It pains me to have to ask this of what has long been my favorite outdoor equipment company, but why will neither REI Customer Service nor Public Relations answer questions on the company's bold political stance on voting? Why instead has REI accused me, an REI member for over three decades and a thirty year military veteran, of favoring voter suppression and telling me to shop elsewhere for merely asking for clarification on the company's public position?
How does this link to REI's stated goal to "advocate for public policies that support the outdoors"? Does REI see a useful distinction between voter suppression and voter identification? What are REI’s positions on ballot harvesting, distribution of unsolicited ballots and voter roll verification? If voting is made easier, does it follow that cheating should be made harder? To promote diversity in the outdoors, is REI going to place stores in communities predominantly of color instead of just affluent areas? Does REI support direct reparations for non-paying financially challenged patrons who shop in it's stores?
Hi @Americus-Maximus - Thank you for reaching out and sharing your comments with us.
The idea that each person has the right to vote is foundational to both our co-op and our democracy. Working to protect that right is not a partisan issue, and we work to increase voting access for all people, regardless of their political party. Additionally, if you are interested in more information on our work advancing diversity, please see our statement on racial equity commitments.
I appreciate the response and read the link. Much of what REI is up to is laudable, though focusing on race and other immutable characteristics instead of the great outdoors is a risky proposition at best. I don't see that REI has plans to open stores in areas that are predominately BIPOC populated. Why is that? Does REI have a position on "smash and grab" forms of reparations at it's stores for the less well off? Shouldn't access to REI stores and products be as easy for everyone as access to voting?
What about answers to my other questions: Does REI see a useful distinction between voter suppression and voter identification? What are REI’s positions on ballot harvesting, distribution of unsolicited ballots and voter roll verification? And does REI have a position on "easy to vote, but hard to cheat" such that both access to and confidence in the vote are improved together?
Obviously not "each person" has a right to vote. Minors (including the unborn), mentally incompetent people, some convicted criminals and non-citizens do not have the right to vote.
It is apparent the USA is further showing signs of significant and vocalized political division with every passing day, whereas even REI is asked to clarify where do they stand politically.
As REI responds publicly, and takes a political position, furthering the social cause of tribalism, they will potentially loose half of their customer base, of which is not a brilliant move in this “still standing” capitalist market.
That’s REI’s call, and must accept the resulting financial impact to their bottom line of perhaps being woke and broke in a competitive market.
REI should continue to provide an opportunity for their Customers to acquire a vast selection of quality products and services for active outdoor activities, and leave the politics of social activism outside the door.
The cited link leaves many questions unanswered. Since REI exhorts more BIPOCLGBTQ and other intersectional folx to get out into the great outdoors, does REI support these people, when they are financially strapped due to systemic inequities, shopping in it's stores and then leaving without paying with armfulls of gear? How level is REI's envisioned playing field?