REI to Try Its Hand in the Big City

Discussion
Sep 17, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Parts of Manhattan may seem like a canyon surrounded by
tall mountains, but there is little about manuevering around the city that
makes you think of the need for outdoor recreation gear. The gear here tends
to be more along the lines of cell phones, laptops, shirts and ties.

Despite
the distance between Manhattan and the wild spaces of New York state and other
places, REI has decided that the time is right to to open its first store in
the city.

According to a post on the retailer’s site, REI will open in the fall
of 2011 in the historic Puck Building in SoHo. The store will be spread over
three floors and include bike services on two of them with “a quick-repair
concierge and a full-service bike shop.” It will also include the camping,
hiking, snow and water sports equipment that REI is famous for.

“REI is delighted to find such a wonderful location to serve our
thousands of Manhattan customers who have been shopping with us for years,”
said Sally Jewell, REI’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Our new
store in the Puck Building will provide a resource to serve New Yorkers, visitors
and community groups eager to enjoy the great outdoors — from bike paths and
urban greenways to wild and scenic destinations around the world.”

Discussion Questions: Is REI a good fit for Manhattan? What do you see as
the key reasons the chain is so successful in a very competitive retailing category?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "REI to Try Its Hand in the Big City"


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Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
10 years 7 months ago

This is a great move for REI. First, you have all of the young urban dwellers who look to spend time in the outdoors in upstate New York, and having REI equipment fits right into this adventurous lifestyle.

More importantly is the fact that New York continues to be the #1 city in the US for tourists, and the tourists that come to NY tend to have the money to spend on luxury and high-priced goods, having an REI store full of hard to find camping and hiking gear will be a great new addition to the retail offering.

REI does most things right, and they have a strong loyal following. This Manhattan store will be a HUGE success for them, and will be some great competition to L.L.Bean, a Northeast mainstay.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Manhattan is like Disneyland for retail, with what, 58 million people in a year going by your store, it is an easy decision. The converse is also true, just because your one store can make it in Manhattan doesn’t mean you can “make it anywhere.”

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
10 years 7 months ago

You could use all the supplies to ascend the huge bluffs in central park. 😉

Ben Ball
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

A recent study I saw showed that 98% of the miles consumers drive in 4X4 vehicles is on dry pavement. It’s an attitude — maybe an aspiration — but not a need. REI will go gangbusters.

Joan Treistman
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Undoubtedly REI looked at the success of Paragon Sports on 18th Street. It’s been there a long time and seemingly successful at higher retail prices.

The idea of devoting REI space for bikers fits in with all the biking lanes in the city and the vast number of people who prefer bikes to mass transportation and taxis. And as the others have said, there are many city citizens who escape to the country for their R&R which includes camping, skiing, boating and on and on. And besides for the couch potatoes like me…the clothes are cool!

REI, welcome to Manhattan.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

City people love the out doors almost or more than people in small towns. Looking for reason to escape the city or just looking to capture what is perceived as a nicer way of living.

This store will be a home run.

James Tenser
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

Worth noting is that the new REI at the Puck Building is located about 15 blocks south of a New York outdoor products institution, Paragon Sports. There’s an EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) store located about two blocks further south. Any hiker worth his or her soles can easily visit all three in the same outing – if he or she can afford the full-markup prices.

So is lower mid-town Manhattan a good place to sell hiking, biking, climbing, camping and paddling gear? Yes, quite evidently. Active New Yorkers with discretionary income live to get away to the outdoors. Rugged apparel, shoe and gear brands like Mountain Hardware, Royal Robbins, Merrell and Camelbak have become urban fashion statements. REI knows its market and I predict success.

Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
10 years 7 months ago

Nothing new here; I agree with the other comments. City folk are always heading to their “Country Homes,” especially in the summer. If you get an invitation to spend the weekend in the mountains, I am sure REI will be able to fix you up with what you need. Just remember to remove the tags.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 7 months ago

How about this! REI joins a long list of retailers taking on the challenge of the Big Apple. The Container Store made the move a few years ago; and now the two NYC locations are among their best producers. I can’t imagine it will be any different for REI.

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