REI opens outdoor adventure gateway concept
REI, the outdoor-themed co-op, has opened a new concept that’s less about where members “live, work and shop” and more about where they “get outside and play.”
The store at the Settlers Green outlet shopping center in North Conway, NH is described as “a gateway to outdoor adventures in the White Mountains,” which cover part of the northern Appalachian Mountains and about a quarter of the state of New Hampshire. It’s REI’s first New Hampshire store.
A major difference is the location. While most of REI’s stores are located in commercial districts such as major cities or busy suburbs, this one is near a resort area and “designed first to be a launching pad for outdoor activities,” according to a statement from the retailer.
Rather than shopping, the foremost focus is on ”experiences”. The operation makes use of a vast demo fleet, and offers extensive rentals and in- and out-of-store programs. At 25,000-square-feet, the store is among REI’s smaller locations, but has a “flagship-sized” range of rental gear for local co-op members as well as for visitors heading to the region.
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REI’s locations are known for their workshops, classes and guided day programs, but this location appears to put an extra emphasis on trips and clinics. Most classes are free.
“The Experiences team is going to be working right out of the store and will offer a range of classes from introduction to mountain biking to rock climbing,” Shannon Hanley, the store’s manager, said in a sponsored interview with the trade publication, GearJunkie.
Asked about community concerns over REI possibly displacing some local retailers, Ms. Hanley said REI is known for its community support. To mark the opening, REI is investing $20,000 in the Mt. Washington Valley Trails Association to help construct the North Conway Recreation Path.
“I think it’s amazing that there are so many folks that are helping others get outside in this area,” said Ms. Hanley. “So, it’s more collaborative than competitive — and celebrating the fact that there’s an industry that’s strong up here.”
- REI Co-op to open new store in North Conway, New Hampshire on Sept. 27, invest $20,000 in local outdoor community – REI
- New Kind of REI? Check Out Just-Opened North Conway Store – GearJunkie
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of REI’s “experiences” store in New Hampshire? Do you see a large opportunity for REI to open more locations positioned as gateways to nearby outdoor adventures?