The largest consumer co-operative in the US, outdoor retailer REI aims to open new stores in Princeton, New Jersey and expand its presence in Atlanta by the spring of 2015.
REI was set up 75 years ago by a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies who were looking for good quality outdoor gear. Today it is a $2bn national retail co-operative, with 135 stores in 33 states and 5.1m active members. The two new stores will provide top brands of outdoor gear and apparel for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, padding and travel.
The 23,500 square feet store in Princeton will be located at Mercer Mall. The Alpharetta store in Georgia is the fifth one in Atlanta. The first REI shop opened in the area in 1990. Together the two stores will provide 50 jobs.
Greg Medlyn, REI’s divisional vice president of retail, said: “Through our wide range of quality products, knowledgeable employees and motivating outdoor programmes, we take great pride in partnering with outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities and interests to help them play in nature. These two new locations give us the unique opportunity to connect our offerings to more customers and members in the greater Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York areas.”
REI stores also feature free and low-cost outdoor classes on a variety of topics, including camping essentials and bike maintenance. REI shops in Atlanta and New York also offer tips and trips in local recreational destinations.
Every year the co-operative mobilises thousands of volunteers to help with environmental projects. It recently granted $80,000 to eight organisations in Atlanta to help preserve outdoor places, including the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Friends of Georgia State Parks and The Georgia Conservancy. They also offer three grants to organsiations in Philadelphia, which support natural areas.
While anyone can shop at REI, members of the co-operative, who need to pay a one-time $20 fee to join and receive a share in the company’s profits, receive special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.