National Outdoor Retailer REI to Open Flagship in Historic Uline Arena in Washington, D.C.
Store to be based in the heart of NoMa, designed to serve the growing outdoor community
Jan 28, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, lovers of the outdoors learned that the country’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), will open its fifth flagship store in late 2016 at the site chosen by President Eisenhower for his inaugural ball and by the Beatles for their first concert in the U.S. The REI flagship will serve the fast growing outdoor community in the region, including more than 281,000 REI members who live in and around Washington, D.C. already.
The new REI will be a place to inspire, educate and outfit people who want to live more of their lives outside no matter their skill level or outdoor interest. It is being designed collaboratively. Representatives from the outdoor community are spending time together Wednesday evening to preview and discuss emerging plans 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.
“Our Washington, D.C. flagship will be an immersive experience – much more than a retail store. We think that people in D.C. who love the outdoors want a place where they can come together to dream and scheme about their adventures,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. “This is a big deal for the co-op and our members. A flagship represents the very best of REI – we are thinking expansively about product assortment, educational programming, services, community engagement and sustainable design.”
REI will enhance its retail experience by introducing new design concepts in how products, services and educational programs are presented. The store will bring 150 new jobs to the local community.
“All sorts of folks live and work in NoMa – a big contingent are active, young and smart,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa BID and NoMa Parks Foundation. “NoMa-ites of all stripes will benefit from REI’s focus on healthy living and support of the community. We are thrilled to partner with REI on this great, new flagship store.”
The new flagship will be more than 51,000 square feet and offer the top and emerging brands for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, paddling, snow sports and travel. Bike, ski, and snowboard shops will provide expert assembly and repairs, while a rental department will serve those who need equipment for a weekend adventure or who wish to try before they buy.
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 building is undergoing a significant renovation led by Douglas Development. As the retailer’s fifth flagship in the country, it will join others in Seattle, Denver, Bloomington (Minn.) and the SoHo area of New York City. Like the Uline Arena, both REI Denver and REI SoHo stores are in historic buildings.
Serving the region’s outdoor community
REI has served the outdoor community in the D.C./Baltimore area since 1987. Once open, the flagship will join eight other stores in the region that serve more than 281,000 REI members – the highest concentration on the east coast. Anyone may shop with REI, but members pay a one-time $20 fee and receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual member refund. Members also enjoy special promotions and discounts on REI Adventures trips and REI Outdoor School classes.
Learn a new activity or advance your skills
Anyone who loves the outdoors can come to the co-op to learn with the local REI Outdoor School. Last year, REI educated 11,219 participants in the region and nearly 200,000 people across the country. The flagship will build on the region’s already robust schedule of free and low-cost in-store classes, field programs and day outings for cycling, paddling, fitness, hiking and camping, climbing, snow sports, photography and wilderness medicine. Examples of programs at popular local destinations are DC Monuments Sunset Kayak Tour, Overnight Backpacking in Shenandoah National Park and Introduction to Outdoor Rock Climbing at Carderock.
Nonprofit partnerships – the anchor of the outdoor community
Wherever REI has a presence, the co-op partners with nonprofit organizations that care for the places where its members play. Across the Washington, D.C. region, the company is proud to have strong relationships with local and nationally-based nonprofits. Last year, REI granted $4.6 million to over 300 local and national nonprofits across the country to improve more than 600 outdoor places. The Uline Arena flagship will highlight the important work of its local and national nonprofits that increase outdoor access and inspire others to lead healthy active lifestyles.
Honoring the past
Uline Arena, also known as Washington Coliseum and The Arena, has a rich history. 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 that include a concrete barrel vault roof and structural concrete arches, the Uline Arena joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. In partnership with Douglas Development, REI will weave salvaged objects into its store design.
“More tenants are seeking unique spaces that reflect their business mission,” says Norman Jemal, a principal of Douglas Development. “Uline Arena and its history – from hosting the Beatles’ first U.S. concert to its popular ice rink and sporting events – were the perfect fit for REI, a company that thrives on experiences and adventure. We look forward to working with REI to create a new destination for Washingtonians who love the outdoors.”
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.