REI Co-op welcomes new vice president in merchandising

Apr 29, 2019

SEATTLE – REI Co-op has hired Michael Benkel as its new vice president of planning, inventory and solutions. Benkel will lead a team of over 100 merchandising professionals and oversee the co-op’s planning and inventory management strategy, and merchandising business processes.

“We are excited to welcome Michael to our team,” says Susan Viscon, REI senior vice president of merchandising and co-op brands. “His skills and experiences are a great combination for the co-op, and his leadership will be crucial in making sure our customers and members get the quality gear they need to enjoy the outdoors.”

Benkel joins the co-op on April 29, after serving as executive vice president of planning, allocation and global supply chain at Pier 1 Imports. Previously, he held leadership positions at Pottery Barn and worked as a buyer for Macy’s. In his spare time, Benkel enjoys spending time outside biking, running, hiking and skiing.

“I’m thrilled to join REI and weave my enthusiasm for the outdoors with my passion for retail, to support the co-op’s important purpose to get people outside and support sustainability,” says Benkel. “My family and I look forward to returning to the West Coast, getting outside and enjoying all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.”

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 20 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at, 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 that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities 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.