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Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

Hi. 

(I chose the Backpacking title as it was the closest one to what I want to discuss.)

I have these suggestions for REI, both short and long term topics:

1. Short-term

Please reopen your stores!  You could do so with a small staff at first, appointments only if needed.   I would assume that, because of the activity level of most customers, they would generally be in good health and not be at risk to getting sick with the current virus.  Reason: There are some things that cannot be properly purchased without trying them on.  I am facing two such (important) purchases: new backpack and hiking shoes.  Because of the cost of these items, I do not want to order them online, try them on (making a judgement call without expert advice), and return via the mail if they don't fit or work.  The same goes for hiking shoes or boots.

2. Long-term

I am a long-time member and fan of REI-brand products.  They are of high quality at a reasonable price.  One of my possible choices for backpacks is the REI Traverse 70.  HOWEVER, I do not want to purchase this product due to the color choices offered.  In previous years, a nice green color was offered, but the two now offered for men are not acceptable for a 67-year old hiker (smile).  I am disappointed it was not offered in at least a black color (which is almost a standard color option for most items.)  Ironically, the colors offered for women include a very nice green and blue, both of which I'd consider (if they were men's sizes).

Related to backpacks, I suggest you offer a men's REI backpack of the size 65 L.  This would give a customer an option to other brands of that size.  For some reason, you offer a 65 L for women, but not for men.

Thank you for your excellent products and even better employees who offer and give wonderful customer service.

PoppaHiker
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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

@KenBrenner Thanks for reaching out and for the feedback!

We are working hard to re-open our stores at the time that is best for employee and customer safety above all else. Per our updated FAQs:

As always, our number one priority is ensuring the health and safety of our employees and customers in any new process we roll out. With that in mind, we have work underway to offer curbside pick-up, noting that, at first, we will likely only be able to offer this service in select locations as jurisdictions allow. In addition, it is likely that the first version of this service will likely only include curbside pick-up, not curbside returns.

In order to help continue to deliver the customer service and expertise you mentioned, we have launched a virtual outfitting tool to connect you with a product expert who can talk you through fit options, features and benefits, and product specs. While it is a relatively new option for our customers, we have received positive feedback from our customers. It might worth a try for you!

Lastly, we will pass along your feedback about color and volume regarding our backpacks to our design team. 

Hope this helps, thank you for the feedback!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

@KenBrenner Thanks for reaching out and for the feedback!

We are working hard to re-open our stores at the time that is best for employee and customer safety above all else. Per our updated FAQs:

As always, our number one priority is ensuring the health and safety of our employees and customers in any new process we roll out. With that in mind, we have work underway to offer curbside pick-up, noting that, at first, we will likely only be able to offer this service in select locations as jurisdictions allow. In addition, it is likely that the first version of this service will likely only include curbside pick-up, not curbside returns.

In order to help continue to deliver the customer service and expertise you mentioned, we have launched a virtual outfitting tool to connect you with a product expert who can talk you through fit options, features and benefits, and product specs. While it is a relatively new option for our customers, we have received positive feedback from our customers. It might worth a try for you!

Lastly, we will pass along your feedback about color and volume regarding our backpacks to our design team. 

Hope this helps, thank you for the feedback!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

O-M-GAWD!

The “health” or fitness of a person is IRRELEVANT! Fit or fat, young or old, you can STILL catch, carry or DIE from C-19!! True, people with weaker immune systems (typically the elderly and those with conditions that have already taxed their immunity) are at a greater risk of dying, but the YOUNG AND FIT can still die from C-19 (and have already!!!) There is no “one” set of symptoms for C-19, it can effect everyone differently. Therefore, if REI is going to start doing business in person again, be it “curb-side” or otherwise, accepted social distancing and hygiene standards MUST remain in place WITH mask requirements for both customer AND worker.

NOTE: But please, do NOT use the N-95, or even KN-95 (the Chinese version), masks or surgical masks! They are STRICTLY for front-line healthcare workers!! Besides, maybe 9 out of 10 don’t even know how to PROPERLY put it on, take it off, use it, or dispose of it!!! A cloth mask (Buff, bandana, etc.) is just fine. And as I said before, I suggest lining the inside with a tissue. When you feel it get moist, replace the tissue).

Also, REI has ALWAYS had the ability to do “curbside” service! Like virtually everyone, they simply panicked, having not informed/educated themselves on the FACTS of C-19 (to be fair, it’s unfortunately the nature of virtually everyone to panic and hoard toilet paper, I’m sure the early caveman did the same thing when faced with the “unknown”). However, if REI is going to finally calm down and start doing business at the stores (in line with the Governor's permission), here’s my suggestion how…

First, continue to do business online, but as to any virtual outfitting tool, etc. (via chat, phone, whatever), prominently feature that and other options on your home page.

Second, C-19 is NOT airborne (like the measles and chickenpox viruses or the bacteria that causes tuberculosis), it is spread primarily through droplets (of saliva or mucus from coughing or sneezing) and, to a lesser extent, “aerosolizing” (even smaller “droplets” carried on the breath). It’s the coughing or sneezing that prompted the 6-feet/2-meter social distancing standard, your breath hovers in front of your face for a few moments before wafting to the ground, UNLESS there is a draft/breeze that carries it a little further. So as long as people stay separated at the door, and in line, this should be fine.

Third, you can’t be infected by C-19 from sitting on a toilet seat or otherwise just having it on your hands/skin, it’s when you have it on your hands/fingers AND touch your eyes, nose or mouth that you infect yourself! Yes, they don’t know how long C-19 can live outside the body. On a hard, smooth, non-porous surface (like glass, metal or plastic), it could be hours or days. That said, accepted hygiene standards should suffice, for workers, perhaps gloves as well.

Fourth, NO MASK, NO SERVICE! I doubt anyone will have a problem with that, but please, no N-95 masks (or KN-95, the Chinese version), they are STRICTLY for front-line healthcare workers!! (there is STILL a shortage!!!) As I stated early on, a Buff, bandana, etc. is fine, but I would also suggest lining the front with a tissue, when you feel the tissue getting moist, replace the tissue.

Fifth, at the store, a wide table (or two) at the door (or if you’re still panicky, a makeshift barrier with an opening) should do as a service counter. Customers would pay online with the “pick up at store” option. At the store/table, the customer would show the confirmation number (and ID if you insist), the worker would fetch the bag/box with the order and place it on the table for the customer. Done.

Also, I understand REI not wanting to deal with returns right away, but REI NEEDS to deal with returns right away! I suggest you have an assortment of boxes or plastic bags near the table/door and have the customer drop the item/s in, then the worker can seal it (or, just have the cutomer show the item and toss it in the trash, whatever). Done.

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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

So nice to see the General public such experts on running large stores during a WorldWide pandemic. Then there are some here that actually seem Medically qualified to give advice to the public, how nice of you. I am being sarcastic as you see. So let me be frank. Stick to outdoor related comments, content removed by moderators. Have a joyous day

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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

To our community members,

We established our User Guidelines with purpose, striving to create an online community that avoids personal attacks and keeps discussion on-topic about the outdoors in a positive tone. We will continue to remove all content that violates these guidelines as we work to keep this community safe and welcoming for all.

We appreciate you joining us in this endeavor.

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well lived.
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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

 I know what you're thinking, "Darn, Survival Gal, you are S-O-O-O smart (and ALWAYS right!), how do you do it?"

Easy, first, I am a Business Administration major, and, I have a mystical, magical superpower called... R-E-A-D-I-N-G... and I have always consulted the sacred texts of oracles called... S-C-I-E-N-T-I-S-T-S!.... Seriously, ignore... you - know - who - and pick up a book once in a while.

Now that we know more about C-19, and are learning more all the time, this next post on reopening REI (you know, the subject of this thread?), should be interesting to REI store workers and customers alike. But first...  

REALITY CHECK  

Buckle up, we are NOT near the end of C-19, we're not even near the middle! (thanks to reopening), to give you a feel for where we are in this, I've been predicting for weeks now (to friends IRL), that before this is over, we will reach 200,000 deaths in the US. The reason I say this is because pandemics like C-19 follow a kind of "bell curve." If we experience 100,000 deaths before the top of that curve, then we can expect 100,000 deaths after the top (this scenario is consistent with what we know from China and Italy).

Unfortunately, you - know - who is leading the charge to reopen, which will "reshuffle the deck" right in the middle of the hand we've been dealt, so the number of deaths could be higher AND could go on longer!  

THE BASIC (but important) INFO' 

Now for the good news (in a manner of speaking), we not only know more about how C-19 is transmitted, we know more about how it's contracted and there Is a familiar example. Giardia!

As many of you are outdoor enthusiasts, you may know you can get Giardia through cysts. What you may NOT know is, it's not a matter of drinking a single cyst. If you drink 50 cysts, you'll probably not get Giardia, if you drink 100 cysts, you may get Giardia, if you drink 150 cysts, you probably will get Giardia. The key word here is, "LOAD."  

It's unlikely you will be infected if you breathe in a single C-19 virus in a single droplet from the single cough, sneeze, laugh, or breath of a single infected person! To be infected with C-19, you must be infected with a sufficient "viral load."  How much is that? Well, that's a little harder to say, but there ARE examples and guidelines, but generally speaking, it depends on, 1-Duration of exposure, 2- The ambient airflow around you (particularly if you are in an enclosed space), 3- How deeply you are breathing, and 4- How forcefully the infected person is exhaling, etc.  

So, if you are passing a runner or hiker who is breathing hard (WITHOUT a mask) on a trail in sunny, windy weather? Relax, I'm sure you will be fine. If you are in a room (ie an enclosed office, restaurant, etc.) for an hour or longer, particularly if you are "down wind" in the air conditioning flow, you'll probably get infected.

What about in a grocery store or an REI store? If you limit your time by making a list, getting your stuff, and getting out ASAP, you're probably okay. On the other hand, the employees run a MUCH higher risk of infection because they are in that environment (even though it's large) much longer! 

SOME EXAMPLES  

In order to get infected you need to get exposed to an infectious dose of the virus, it appears only small doses may be needed for infection to take hold. Some experts estimate as few as 1000 C-19 infectious viral particles are all that is needed (NOTE: this still needs to be determined experimentally, but we can use "1000" as an example).

You can receive 1000 infectious viral particles in one breath or from one eye-rub, or 100 viral particles inhaled with each breath over 10 breaths, or 10 viral particles with 100 breaths. Each of these situations can lead to an infection.   

Cough: A single cough releases about 3,000 droplets which travel at 50 miles per hour. Most droplets are large, and fall quickly, but many stay in the air and can travel across a room in a few seconds. Sneeze: A single sneeze releases about 30,000 droplets, with droplets traveling at up to 200 miles per hour. Most droplets are small and travel great distances (easily across a room).

If a person is infected, the droplets in a single cough or sneeze may contain as many as two hundred million virus particles! If a person coughs or sneezes, those viral particles go everywhere. Some virus hangs in the air, some falls into surfaces, most falls to the ground. So if you are face-to-face with a person, having a conversation, and that person sneezes or coughs straight at you, it's pretty easy to see how it is possible to inhale 1,000 virus particles and become infected.

Even if that cough or sneeze was not directed at you, some infected droplets -the smallest - can hang in the air for a few minutes, filling every corner of a modest sized room with infectious viral particles. All you have to do is enter that room within a few minutes of the cough/sneeze and take a few breaths and you have potentially received enough virus to establish an infection.

Breath: A single breath releases 50 - 5000 droplets. Most of these droplets are low velocity and fall to the ground quickly. There are even fewer droplets released through nose-breathing. Importantly, due to the lack of exhalation force with a breath, viral particles from the lower respiratory areas are not expelled. Unlike sneezing and coughing which release huge amounts of viral material, the respiratory droplets released from breathing only contain low levels of virus (studies have shown a person infected with the flu can releases up to 33 infectious viral particles per minute).  

Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per minute. Again, assuming every virus is inhaled, it would take ~5 minutes of speaking face-to-face to receive the required dose. Anyone you spend greater than 10 minutes with in a face-to-face situation is potentially infected. Anyone who shares a space with you (say an office) for an extended period is potentially infected.    

Singing, to a greater degree than talking, aerosolizes respiratory droplets extraordinarily well. At a choir practice, deep-breathing while singing facilitated those respiratory droplets getting deep into the lungs. Two and half hours of exposure ensured that people were exposed to enough virus over a long enough period of time for infection to take place. Over a period of 4 days, 45 of the 60 choir members developed symptoms, 2 died. The youngest infected was 31, but they averaged 67 years old. Loud talking, shouting, laughing, etc. likewise increases the range and chances of infection.  

CAVEAT: At least 44% of all infections--and the majority of community-acquired transmissions--occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin. Infectious people come in all ages, and they all shed different amounts of virus. You can have a little bit of virus or a lot of virus. The amount of virus released from an infected person changes over the course of infection and it is also different from person-to-person. Viral load generally builds up to the point where the person becomes symptomatic. So just prior to symptoms showing, you are releasing the most virus into the environment. Interestingly, the data shows that just 20% of infected people are responsible for 99% of viral load that could potentially be released.  

NOW, BACK TO OUR DISCUSSION THREAD  

Now that you're sufficiently informed (or board), you can see how this may shape an REI reopening. Toward that end, I have already seen two possible models, the McDonald's Model and the Jack's Model.

In the McDonald's Model, they have a detailed, 69-page manual outlining their reopening. I have not seen it, but it apparently depends on workers keeping a tidy store (wiping-down each kiosk, table, chair, etc.) after each and every customers' use, AND, depending on each customer to maintain social distancing and hygiene standards (I don't know about you, but I've been watching people and they ALREADY can't do that!)  

The Jack's Model I've already seen in action for the past few weeks now at several stores, and it looks like this; First, they limit the number of customers in the store while the others que-up outside (NO MASK, NO SERVICE!) Next, they close access to most of the floor area in front of the counter (less to clean/maintain). Then, at the register, customers order through an erected plastic barrier with cut-outs where purchases are passed through. And finally, all employees wear masks and gloves.... EH-HEM!... Is this not what I suggested here some time ago?!  

My previous suggestions still stand. 

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Re: Advice for REI - Reopening the Stores

Ah! And I see you now have "curbside", I'll have to see what you've done with it.

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