It pleases me to see REI moving forward with programs and concepts such as "Circular Economy". The environment clearly needs as much care as we can possibly offer up, and REI is an excellent way to reach people- serious outdoors person and novice alike. If I am addressing a concept that has already been addressed, I apologize; but here are a couple of thoughts. REI has both "Garage Sales" and the now sells lightly used gear as well. There are a couple of additional things they might consider doing. I will explain.
While REI currently sells lightly used gear, there are many pieces of equipment owned by outdoors people that a perhaps too worn to qualify as "lightly used" but still quite serviceable. An individual may simply have a quality piece of equipment that they wish to replace with a higher quality or better performing version. A beginner climber may have purchased the wrong size climbing shoe, or perhaps is graduating from the indoor gym to the real world of cliffs and mountains. Maybe a cyclist wishes to get a lighter or more durable bike that what they currently own. A paddler might have decided that while the canoe they own is functional. they need a more efficient and lighter design hull for the next trip that involves portages and bigger water. The hiker might have decided that they purchased a backpack that is less than ideal after using it for a few miles, and needs a different size, style, and fit.
The point is that many such items mentioned above might not qualify for a Garage sale, and may not be returnable for any ethical reason. These pieces of equipment are simply used, and the user has "outgrown" them in terms of their function in relation to that user. REI could do what many downhill-alpine ski shoppes used to do; Have a tailgate sale. The only thing REI would do would be to supply some space for individual outdoors persons to sell their own gear. Unlike online sales such as at EBay, potential buyers would not only have the option to see the piece of equipment first hand, but they could easily venture into REI at the same time to compare the item against similar pieces of gear. Buy used or buy new from REI? Will I like that sport, or not? Does it fit me? is it a fair price? All of these questions would be easily answered within a few minutes. REI would assume no responsibility for the sale of these items, but REI would be bringing outdoors people together (like Garage Sales) and quite possibly be generating sales from both the buyers and sellers. Sellers of equipment would have the money to upgrade equipment, buyers that failed to buy used gear at the Tailgate sale may decide its time to purchase directly from REI instead. The facts would have been weighed, and they are right there at an REI store. This would also take existing equipment out into the world with a purpose, rather than sitting in somebody's closet or basement.
A separate idea for REI to consider as part of helping the world improve would be to increase the value of bikes; not just for recreational use, but as alternative to the use of cars, and public transit buses. It has worked well in Europe, and if we open our eyes and minds, it could work here in the United States. If not the leading source of car pollution in the world, we certainly are among the leaders for it. When possible and practical, its time for a change