REI Co-op is testing a new retail format as part of the expansion of its resale business.
The outdoor specialty retailer has opened two freestanding pop-up stores dedicated to used outdoor gear and apparel as part of its ongoing effort to drive the growth of its resale business. The pop-ups, located near REI stores in Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Conshohocken, Pa., are stocked with "high-quality" products available for purchase by REI members at discounted prices. The two pop-ups are in addition to the seven new retail stores REI is opening this year.
REI initially launched its online “recommerce” (resale) business in 2018, and in October 2019 the retailer piloted a used gear buy-back program with 5,000 members that offered the members REI gift cards when they trade in gently-used outdoor items for resale.
Beginning this month, REI members can trade in their own used gear through the co-op's online, member-only trade-in program. Members can send in gently used gear in exchange for REI gift card credit. The company is currently offering up to 50% of the resale value for most items.
REI credits demand for renting or purchasing used over new gear from millennial customers as contributing to nearly 100% year-over-year growth in its online business. The company also frames its growing used gear business as part of a broader commitment to sustainability.
"Our recommerce business continues to exceed our expectations," said Ken Voeller, REI manager of new business development and recommerce. "We see many benefits to expanding this business. First, as an opportunity to introduce our members to more outdoor activities through lower priced products. Also, having a robust used gear business helps reduce the co-op's overall impact on the environment as we work to achieve our climate and zero waste objectives."
Seattle-based REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia.