REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a national retailer providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, will hold the grand opening of REI SoHo, its first location in New York City, in the Puck Building on December 2 through 4.
The 35,000 square-foot store will outfit customers with the top brands of outdoor gear and apparel on three levels, including its exclusive award-winning REI brand and Novara bike products. Upon opening, the main floor will feature camping, climbing, cycling, snow sports and travel products, while men’s, women’s and kid’s clothing and footwear will be housed on the cellar level.
“Our first store in New York City is the keystone for our six Tri-State locations working together to outfit the abundance of outdoor enthusiasts and visitors in the greater New York City area,” said Tim Spangler, REI’s senior vice president of Retail. “As one of our most extensive restoration projects to date, REI SoHo provides a unique opportunity to blend our nearly 75-year history with the iconic legacy of the Puck Building.”
REI partnered with Callison, a global architecture and design firm, to incorporate elements of the natural world and historical items that were reclaimed from the Puck Building into the retail space. Significant design elements include:
- The building’s brick walls and ceilings, and steel columns were exposed to honor the original structure as it appeared in the late 1890’s
- A central stairwell connects the main floor with two sub-grade shopping levels, open to the public for the first time
- Wood from the original construction was repurposed into the store’s cashier counters and canopies, display tables, chair railings, mirrors, wall coverings, signage and more
- Two focal chandeliers were refurbished by partnering with local artist Robert Odgen
- Two 14-foot flywheels from the building’s original steam power plant are showcased on the cellar level near historical walls featuring REI’s founders, Lloyd and Mary Anderson, and the Puck Building heritage
- Approximately 30 original stone printing tablets discovered during construction and dating back to the early 1900’s are displayed near the cellar level cashier area
- Display tables throughout the store incorporate additional historic items found in the Puck Building, including stairs, fans and steel from the original steam power plant
The Puck Building, the original home of Puck magazine and J. Ottman Lithographic Company, is one of the great surviving buildings of New York’s old printing and publishing district dating back to the 19th century. The building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1983. During the construction process, REI worked closely with a historian and experts at the Smithsonian to learn about the building’s historical objects and their future care.
REI SoHo will house bike and ski shop services on two levels—a quick stop on the main floor and full shop on the sub-cellar level. A rental department will offer seasonal gear for New Yorkers to try outdoor activities. The store’s community space will allow REI and its local nonprofit partners to host outdoor classes, presentations and events.
“Our SoHo store brings the outdoor expertise that our customers expect from REI directly to New York consumers,” said Les Hatton, REI SoHo store manager. “From the bike and ski stop on the main level to home delivery services, REI is making it easier for these urban adventurers to enjoy the outdoors.”
In addition to hosting in-store classes through its community room, REI offers outdoor classes and trips through REI Outdoor School and REI Adventures. Participants can sign up for day or multi-day adventures that take place in regional outdoor locations with REI instructors who teach a variety of activities, from learning how to snowshoe to navigating with a GPS device. Paddling courses will be available in the spring.
In each of its communities, the company partners with local nonprofits that work to preserve natural spaces through activities such as gear donations, financial contributions and event promotions. In the past 12 months, REI donated more than $300,000 to organizations restoring or maintaining outdoor areas in the Tri-State area, including the Bronx River Alliance, Central Park Conservancy, Friends of the High Line, Prospect Park Alliance and New York Restoration Project. Last month, REI SoHo employees also volunteered in each of New York City's five boroughs.
With 2010 sales of $1.66 billion, REI is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative. 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. Earlier this year, $94.3 million in annual refunds was distributed to more than 4.4 million active members based on the co-op’s 2010 sales.
REI currently operates 122 retail stores and two online stores, rei.com and REI-OUTLET.com. The company hired approximately 150 employees for the new SoHo store, who took part in REI’s comprehensive training program. For 14 consecutive years, the company has been recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America.”
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.