I recently sent an email to REI suggesting that they do two things that to the best of my knowledge, they do due; at least not in the Atlanta, Georgia area. First off with The Chattahoochee River playing such a prominant role in outdoo recreation around Atlanta, REI should consider having a serious boat rental program for its members and/or future members. Being able to rent a specific canoe, kayak, or paddle board would not onlt allow customers to test drive their potential purchase ( to better understand its handling properties, weight, etc.) but also to have fun. Certainly programs designed to introduce boats and boards of various designs would also generate new interest in water sports.
Obviously, such a program would require a fair amount of space to both store and display boats, but Sandy Springs and Roswell both are in the process of reinventing themselves. There are enough empty building, such as old grocery stores along Roswell Road to allow for an optimum location in terms of size and proximity to the Chattahoochee River. In Fact, the Island Ford Chattahoochee River Recreational Area - part of the National Park Service- is also very close to these potential locations, and offers a boat launch and the safety and supervision of the NPS.
Finally, something i feel i understated in my email to REI, would be the full utilization of that new space. Climbing gyms have found their way into American society, and REI often has a basic climbing wall within their traditional stores. These potential new locations for REI could not only function as boat rentals and sales, but could easily house a more serious indoor climbing gym. This would only enhance the sales of climbing gear and all the camping accessories that traditional climbing can entail, but also offer a meeting place for climbers (both seasoned and beginner alike) to meet, exchange ideas and information. The fact that REI allows climbing within their stores and leads adventure travel trips strongly suggests to me that any safety and insurance concerns can be easily overcome for this kind of controlled environment.
So if any or all of this sounds interesting or reasonable to you, please let REI know in some sort of tangible way, if only by email or post. Thanks for taking the time to read this.
John Paul Arsenault
@John_Arsenault thank you so much for providing us with this feedback and these suggestions! One of the things we are most excited about with this community is the abililty to hear directly from our members about their ideas and suggestions. We will definitely pass your feedback and suggestions along to the "right" folks at the co-op for consideration!
In case you haven't had a chance to see or visit, we do have a Boathouse at Stone Mountain. These kinds of boathouses are a new offering for the co-op; in addition to the Atlanta location, we opened a few in the Seattle, Denver, and Chicago areas as well!