FAQs regarding REI's store closures and reopening plan

REI Community Manager
REI Community Manager
32 0 612K
Last updated: 11/19/2020
Q: In light of the pandemic, what is the current status of REI stores? 
A: After two months of store closures in the spring, most REI stores are now open - in a limited capacity - to customers. In some places, "open" means curbside service. In others, our doors are open for a limited number of customers at a time. In every case, we are taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities. As a result, you may experience longer than usual wait times when visiting your local REI Co-op. Thank you for your patience as we work to keep everyone healthy and safe.

Q: How can I find more information about my local store hours and service offerings?

A: The best way to find out specifics about your local REI store, such as hours of operation, curbside pick up availability, shop services, and rental offerings, is to visit our local REI store pages.

Q: Now that my local REI is open, can I expect employees will be wearing face coverings and will I be required to do so?

A: Employees are required to wear CDC approved face coverings while in REI locations, including stores, distribution centers and any location being staffed by employees who are deemed ‘essential personnel.’ In addition, we are also requiring all customers older than age 2 wear face coverings that align with CDC guidance while at an REI store and are providing disposable face coverings for anyone who does not have one.

Please review our health and safety standards for additional information on social distancing, cleaning procedures and health screenings.

Q: What changes should I expect from my regular shopping experience?

A: This is a great question, as we are operating our stores differently to prioritize employee and customer health and safety. You can watch a quick video to get a sense of some of these changes; in addition, here are a few specifics you should expect the next time you come into an REI:

  • Our employees will be wearing face coverings and we are requiring that our customers do the same.
  • We will be limiting the number of people allowed in our stores, which may result in lines and delays to enter.
  • We are implementing socially distanced queues at our entrances, cash registers and shop counters. In addition, we have installed plexiglass shields at all registers.
  • We will be offering socially distanced fit services and queuing in specific departments, like footwear, bikes, packs.
  • We have implemented virtual waitlists - see the following FAQ for more details.
  • Some of our products will not be available for test/try-on. Tents can be set-up but not unzipped or entered. And you'll need to bring your own bike helmet to do an outdoor test ride and your own socks to try on shoes.
  • Fitting rooms may be closed, dependent on local ordinances.
  • Our employees will be cleaning high-touch surfaces frequently, like shopping carts, baskets and debit/credit keypads.
  • Most locations are able to perform car rack installs; contact your local store for availability and details.
  • Our climbing walls remain closed.
  • Rentals are now available at select locations, noting that hours/days and available categories may vary. Please visit our Rentals page for general information or contact your local store for their specific rental availability.
  • Hours of operation and services (bike shop, in-store returns, curbside pick-up) may be limited and can change unexpectedly – check your local store page for the most up-to-date information.

We recognize this is a different experience than you’ve had in the past, but we also want to make it clear what hasn’t changed: our commitment to friendly, welcoming and authentic interactions with our members and customers. We hope to see you soon!

Q: What is the 'virtual waitlist' and how does it work?

A: As we continue to prioritize customer and employee safety, and as we prepare for possible holiday crowds, we have launched a new virtual waitlist that allows you to join a 'virtual line' before arriving at your local REI store. Once in the building, we've also added virtual waitlists to receive service in our busiest departments.

There are a few ways you can view the number of people already waiting to enter a store and sign up: from your store's local page, by scanning a QR code at the front door, or by checking in with the door host at your local store. Once you are signed up, you will receive text and/or email messages notifying you of each step. The process is similar for department-specific virtual waitlists.

If you prefer to not use the virtual waitlist, the store's door or department host will enter your first name and last initial in the system for you and will verbally notify you when it is your turn to enter the store or department. As always, we appreciate your patience and flexibility as we work in new ways.

Q: I need advice on a future purchase, but I'm not yet comfortable coming into a store. What are my options for getting help?

A: We know some of our customers aren't yet ready or comfortable heading into an REI store; we still want to help! Here are a few options for getting virtually connected to REI expertise:

  • Book a free virtual outfitting appointment where you can video chat with an REI employee about any product questions you may have, including fit.
  • Post a question here in the community and have REI employees and other community members weigh in with advice and suggestions.

Q: How can I help the co-op during this unprecedented time?

A: It’s questions like these that make us so proud to be part of the co-op community. Here is a letter from our CEO posted in April that suggests a few ways you can help the co-op during this time. The simplest way is to do what so many of you are already doing – continuing to be loyal REI customers. Another way is to join the co-op, if you’re not already a member.

Q: What is REI doing to help during the COVID crisis?

A: Throughout the pandemic, we have looked for ways to address critical needs. As a starter, in partnership with hundreds of government agencies and non-profits, REI has been promoting the #RecreateResponsibly principles to help individuals get outside safely. In addition, we have invested in and been raising awareness of the  Protecting People Everywhere initiative, which acts as a PPE "matching" program to route donations to those facilities facing the most dire circumstances. Finally, we have recently completed fundraising for an Outdoor Emergency Fund, which has distributed $100,000 to outdoor organizations around the country.



Q: What if I want to buy something? What if I need help with the fit of a new item?

A: We can help! In addition to our stores being open, REI.com and our contact center are open for business. For help deciding (virtually) on a new item that may require a specific fit, like a bike, a pair of shoes, or a backpack, consider booking a free virtual outfitting appointment or asking us here in the community.

Q: Can I pick up an order in-store? 

A: The likely answer is yes! Almost all of our stores are offering curbside pickup, and in addition, all of our stores are now open to the public (barring any unexpected closures, which will be noted on a store's local page). Note that you may experience longer than usual wait times and we appreciate your patience as we work to keep our employees and customer healthy and safe. 



Q: What are my options for returning a purchase at this time?

A: You have a few options for processing a return with us. You can always go in to your local store to process your return. If going in to your local store does not work for you, you can send your return back to us through the mail. Using our Returns Portal, you can print a return shipping label and return packing slip (some exclusions apply); find details for mailing your return in our Help Center.

Q: Why can’t I return an item curbside when I am able to pick something up curbside?

A: We are not yet offering curbside returns as this process is more complex and introduces additional risk for our employees and customers.

Q: I need to exchange an item. Is that process any different from a return?

A: Barring unexpected closures, which will be noted on a store's local page, all of our stores have reopened and are accepting returns. If you are not comfortable going in to your local REI store, there is a way to process an exchange:

If your exchange has any specific pricing considerations (ex: application of a coupon, difference in price, use of your dividend), please call us at 1-800-426-4840 for assistance.

Q: What is the timeline for returns?

A: All purchases are subject our standard return policy. We stand behind everything we sell. If you're not satisfied with your REI purchase, you can return it for a replacement or refund within one year of purchase -- except for outdoor electronics, which must be returned within 90 days of purchase. Outdoor electronics include activity monitors, GPS-enabled devices, bike trainers, emergency-communication devices, and cameras.



Q: What are my options for getting my bike serviced? 

A: It's very likely that your local REI bike shop has reopened and is offering zero-contact bike shop services - we recommend calling them for availability and instructions.  However, if you're interested in doing a little work on your own, check out these resources: 

  • For new bike assembly, we have an REI Expert Advice bike assembly video that will walk you through the couple of steps required to get you ready to ride! 
  • If you would prefer remote assistance with a technical question, please email our team of bike technicians at cyclinghelp@rei.com and we will connect with you within a few days. 

Q: What does this mean for a past-due rental return?

A: Although all of our stores have reopened, our rental operations have not resumed at all locations. If your local REI store has not resumed offering rentals, you can still return your rental gear; you'll just need to return it to the store's Customer Service team. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to accept rental returns using our curbside pickup service. Finally, no late fees will be assessed for rentals affected by our store closures.



Q: What can I expect for an outdoor class or day trip?

A: The health and well-being of our guests, our guides and the communities we visit is always our top priority. In response to COVID-19, we've worked tirelessly to enhance the health & safety precautions for every REI class, day trip and event. With these changes in place, we can now offer some of our most popular programs in selected locations - with more to come soon. For more information, and to find classes and day trips happening near you, visit our REI Classes & Events page.

Q: Does this have any implications for REI’s adventure travel business?

A: For a number of weeks, REI Adventure Travel has been proactively communicating with guests about COVID-19 to answer questions and help them prepare for their active vacations. We have also been monitoring updates from the U.S. State Department, CDC, and WHO and keeping in contact with our local teams for updates.

Increasingly, there are ever-changing entry and exit requirements for many countries and travel restrictions are being implemented without notice. As a result, we are discontinuing all domestic and international trip operations and working directly with affected travelers.

The decision to travel is a personal one. REI is currently waiving any change and cancellation fees for any guest who wishes to cancel or transfer to another trip or date due to travel health or safety concerns related to COVID-19.