First Look: REI opens new format store

REI Co-op is going big on experiences and rentals.

The outdoor gear and apparel retailer has debuted a new store concept that combines merchandise, guided outdoor experiences and equipment rentals all under one roof. Located in North Conway, New Hampshire, the new REI is designed to both serve the 53,000 co-op members in the Granite State and the millions of visitors that adventure in the region every year.

The 24,779-sq.-ft. REI North Conway 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, take a class or workshop, or sign up for a guided outdoor experience.   

Most REI stores are located where members live, work and shop. But with a location that is considered the gateway to the White Mountains, REI North Conway is located closer to where they get outside and play, REI explained.

“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 VP 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.”

In addition to North Conway, REI has eight other locations in New England, including four in Massachusetts, three in Connecticut and one in Rhode Island. It will open its first store in Vermont, in Williston, in November REI has a total of 155 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

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