SANTA CRUZ—With a short welcoming greeting to a small crowd gathered outside Santa Cruz’s new REI store Wednesday evening, manager John Davis opened the doors for the first time, allowing employees’ friends and family a peek before the store opens Friday.
An abbreviation of Recreational Equipment, Inc., Sumner-Wash.-based REI sells a range of outdoor equipment at 168 locations across the U.S. They also offer guided outdoor experiences in the U.S. and across the world.
“We are an outdoor, outside experience center for people who just have a passion to be outside,” Davis said.
The 22,622-square-foot store, located at 1660 Commercial Way, formerly held Toys “R” Us.
Different from other big-box stores, REI is known as a “co-op,” where customers who pay a nominal fee for membership get back dividends–the company pays 70% of its annual profits through dividends to REI members, employee profit-sharing and retirement, and investments in nonprofits dedicated to the outdoors.
“I am super-excited, and I am so stoked,” Davis said. “This is my journey and this team’s journey and everybody’s journey that is in Santa Cruz right now.”
During the store’s grand opening celebration, it will open each day at 10am and offer giveaways while supplies last. It will also host an outdoor social every afternoon from 2-6pm, with music, outdoor vendors and local partners. Nonprofit partners participating in the festivities include Bay Area Run Crew, Coastal Watershed Council, Ecology Action, Santa Cruz Mountain Trail Stewardship, Sempervirens Fund, She is Beautiful, and Ventana Wilderness Alliance.
For information, visit rei.com.