First Look: REI’s New Retail Experience
REI Co-op has opened its first New Hampshire store in North Conway, unveiling its new retail experience that combines merchandise, guided outdoor experiences and equipment for rent all in one store.
As a gateway to outdoor adventures in the White Mountains, REI North Conway is designed to both serve the 53,000 co-op members in New Hampshire and the millions of visitors that adventure in the region every year. The store differs from the co-op's traditional retail spaces in that, rather than being designed for the products it sells, it is designed first to be a launching pad for outdoor activities – a place where people of all levels of expertise can gather to plan their trip, pick up rentals or a new piece of gear, or enjoy a guided outdoor experience.
“North Conway is an exciting location, as it allows us to serve our New England members in the heart of where they recreate,” said Rachel Ligtenberg, REI vice president of retail. “By combining retail, outdoor experiences and rentals all into one seamless in-store experience, REI North Conway can help every kind of adventurer get outside in the White Mountains.”
REI launched its experience offerings in North Conway in June and will continue to offer workshops, classes and guided day programs in the White Mountains.
REI is also investing $20,000 in the Mt. Washington Valley Trails Association to help construct the North Conway Recreation Path and is partnering with local Tuckerman Brewing Company on a limited-edition brew, “Snow Ranger White Ale.” Together, REI and Tuckerman Brewing are donating 10% of beer sales to the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine. Funds will support the Friends of Tuckerman Ravine’s ongoing partnership with the Mount Washington Avalanche Center as they provide daily avalanche forecasting and search and rescue leadership across the Presidential Range.
“North Conway is a community that celebrates people getting outdoors,” said Shannon Hanley, REI North Conway store manager. "We are excited to help our members and guests enjoy the wide range of activities this region has to offer, while also investing in the outdoor spaces that make this area special.”
While anyone may shop at REI, members pay a lifetime $20 membership and share in the company’s profits through an annual dividend. In addition, REI actively works with nonprofits to steward local trails and public lands and connect people to the outdoors. The co-op annually gives more than 70 percent of its profits back to the outdoor community through member dividends, employee retirement contributions and investment in nonprofit partners. In 2018, REI invested $8.4 million to 431 nonprofit organizations across the country.
REI North Conway joins eight other REI stores in New England, including four in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island. REI will also open its first store in Vermont in Williston in November 2019.