Spring 2014 is the target date of the opening of outdoor outfitter REI in Flagstaff.
The 23,550-square-foot store will be at Aspen Place at the Sawmill at the corner of Lone Tree Road and Butler Avenue. This location puts the store near downtown Flagstaff and Northern Arizona University.
“The reason why we are excited to join the community is that these are people who enjoy the outdoors,” said Janet Hopkins, retail district director for the southwest district. “We are looking forward to offering people quality outdoor gear and a knowledgeable
staff. Flagstaff is the gateway to some great recreation.”
REI has been in Arizona for more than 25 years, with stores in Tempe, Paradise Valley and Tucson. The Tempe store was the first to open in 1986. The Paradise Valley store opened in 1996 and the Tucson store in 2010.
Founded in 1938, REI is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative, with 5.1 million members who pay a one-time fee of $20 and receive a share in the company’s profit through an annual refund. Membership includes discounts on clothing and equipment for the outdoors enthusiast. It also includes outdoor classes, adventure trips and gear rentals. There are more than 4,200 members in the Flagstaff area.
Some of the smaller stores in the area that cater to the same customer are bracing themselves for the opening of the new, large store. “They will affect us a bit the first couple of months,” said Steve Chatinsky, owner of Peace Surplus. “We expect a small downturn and we have been doing a few things the last six months to prepare for it that will work for us.”
Peace Surplus has been in business in Arizona for 40 years and has experienced the ebb and flow of business in the area. “We expect to remain a contender. We have a lot of talent here amongst us,” he said. “We put on our thinking caps and customers are in for a few surprises.”
When REI moved into Tucson two years ago, some of the smaller similar businesses there took a hit. “Summit Hut did experience a change to its business, though we have come through that time smarter and as strong as ever,” said Landon Q. Vincent, the marketing manager at Summit Hut.
Some of the strategy has included concentrating on personal service and matching the prices of their competitors. “We have been locally owned and operated for over 40 years and believe strongly in being involved in our community, raising thousands of dollars and donating over 100 days of staff volunteer work with local, outdoor oriented non-profits each year.”
REI will hire about 50 new employees for its new store. Candidates can apply online at rei.com/jobs in early 2014. Employee packages include healthcare, product and service discounts, incentive pay and retirement contributions.
REI has consistently been on the “100 Best Companies to Work For” list compiled by Fortune Magazine. It is currently number 17 on the list. “We have been on the national list since it has existed, 16 years running,” Hopkins said.
REI donates millions to conservation and its employees and other volunteer to build trails, clean beaches and restore habitat. FBN