We are excited to announce that we will open our fifth REI flagship store in late 2016 in the historic Uline Arena–the site used by President Eisenhower for his inaugural ball and the Beatles for their first concert in the U.S.
This is a big deal!
Washington, D.C. is a fast growing outdoor community, including more than 281,000 REI members who live in and around Washington, D.C. already. We want to provide a place outdoor enthusiasts in the community can come together to dream and scheme about their adventures.
We’re building the flagship collaboratively. We’re spending time with the local outdoor community to discuss how to make the flagship an ideal community space, including the store design, educational outdoor classes and partnerships with local non-profits, which are the foundation of all REI stores because they help REI members gain access to great places to play. This flagship will be an immersive experience – much more than a retail store.
REI regional vice president Rachel Ligtenberg reviews plans at Uline Arena.
We are also excited to hire new team members who will be our inspired guides from the local community. The store will bring 150 new jobs to the area.
Last year, REI educated 11,219 participants in the region and nearly 200,000 people across the country. The D.C. flagship will build on the region’s already robust schedule of free and low-cost in-store classes, field programs and day outings. Examples of programs at popular local destinations are D.C. Monuments Sunset Kayak Tour, Overnight Backpacking in Shenandoah National Park and Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing at Carderock.
Steps away from Union Station in the NoMa neighborhood and easy access from the Metro’s red line or by bike, REI’s flagship will occupy the first floor of the Uline Arena. The new flagship will be more than 51,000 square feet of beautiful outdoor gear, including bike and ski and snowboard shops. If you want to try before you buy, we’ll have a rental department, too.
Similar to our existing flagship in Denver and the SoHo area of New York City, Uline Arena has a history that we plan to honor in the store design. Opening in 1931 as the M.J. Ice Company, its success allowed Miguel Uline to construct an adjacent 8,000 seat arena. President Eisenhower hosted his first inaugural ball at the site in 1953, and professional hockey and basketball teams entertained sports fans. The building is perhaps most famous as the site of the Beatles’ first United States concert after their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964. With architecturally significant features including a concrete barrel vault roof and structural concrete arches, the Uline Arena joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Learn more about Uline Arena history below.
That’s a lot of great history. We are fortunate and honored to become a part of the story and bring a flagship to our nation’s capital!