REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a retail co-op providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, today announced plans to open a new store in Santa Barbara, Calif. and relocate its current location in Santa Ana, Calif. to The Market Place in Tustin, Calif. Both stores will offer the top brands of outdoor gear and apparel, including the co-op’s award-winning REI and Novara lines.
“We want to provide families and those who love the outdoors with the advice, education and products they need to enjoy the outdoors comfortably and easily,” said Greg Mellinger, REI retail director for Southern California. “This announcement reflects our commitment to expanding our presence in southern California and offering our members and customers more ways to get outside.”
The new REI in Santa Barbara will be located off of U.S. Highway 101 between Anacapa and State Streets and open in the fall of 2011. The more than 24,500 square-foot location will offer products for outdoor activities, such as camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel. The store will also provide a bike shop for assemblies and repairs, gear rental department and community space where nonprofits and outdoor organizations can hold classes and events.
The relocation of REI’s current store at McFadden Place in Santa Ana to The Market Place in Tustin will increase the store’s size from nearly 25,000 to 33,500 square-feet. Opening this fall, the larger location will allow REI to increase its current product assortment by approximately 30 percent. Owned by Irvine Company, The Market Place is located off the Santa Ana Freeway and Jamboree Road.
“Moving three miles away allows us to provide our current customers more room to shop and a wider selection of gear and apparel to choose from,” said Steve Eaton, REI Santa Ana store manager. “We are also thrilled to offer our local partners the opportunity to host events, classes and presentations for large groups in our new community room.”
REI partners with local organizations that help people experience and conserve the outdoors through education, volunteerism and its grants program. This year, the co-op provided $160,000 in grant funding to 16 non-profit partners in the Los Angeles area. Examples of these organizations include the Audubon Center at Debs Park, Inside the Outdoors Foundation, Los Angeles Outward Bound and Trails4All.
There are currently 257,000 active co-op members within the Los Angeles area and 7,900 active members within the Santa Barbara area. The new stores will join additional locations in Arcadia, Huntington Beach, Manhattan Beach, Northridge, Rancho Cucamonga and Santa Monica. REI currently has 112 stores nationwide and 26 stores in California.
REI will hire approximately 40 to 50 new employees for the new Santa Barbara store and approximately 25 additional employees for the larger Tustin location. The co-op recruits candidates that share a passion for the outdoors and quality customer service. More information about employment opportunities will be available at rei.jobs.
To help increase confidence when recreating in the outdoors, the co-op offers REI Outdoor School in the southern California region, where families and outdoor enthusiasts can sign up for one-day, entry-level classes. Local outdoor instructors bring the gear and teach basic to advanced skills for a variety of outdoor activities, including bicycling, navigating, paddling and hiking.
While anyone may shop at REI, members pay a one-time $20 fee and receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund based on their purchases. Based on the co-op’s 2009 sales, more than $80 million was distributed to 3.9 million active members through the dividend program. Members also receive discounts on gear rentals, trips offered through REI Adventures and local REI Outdoor School classes.
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.