It pleases me to see REI moving forward with programs and concepts such as "Circular Economy". The environment clearly needs as much care as we can possibly offer up, and REI is an excellent way to reach people- serious outdoors person and novice alike. If I am addressing a concept that has already been addressed, I apologize; but here are a couple of thoughts. REI has both "Garage Sales" and the now sells lightly used gear as well. There are a couple of additional things they might consider doing. I will explain. While REI currently sells lightly used gear, there are many pieces of equipment owned by outdoors people that a perhaps too worn to qualify as "lightly used" but still quite serviceable. An individual may simply have a quality piece of equipment that they wish to replace with a higher quality or better performing version. A beginner climber may have purchased the wrong size climbing shoe, or perhaps is graduating from the indoor gym to the real world of cliffs and mountains. Maybe a cyclist wishes to get a lighter or more durable bike that what they currently own. A paddler might have decided that while the canoe they own is functional. they need a more efficient and lighter design hull for the next trip that involves portages and bigger water. The hiker might have decided that they purchased a backpack that is less than ideal after using it for a few miles, and needs a different size, style, and fit. The point is that many such items mentioned above might not qualify for a Garage sale, and may not be returnable for any ethical reason. These pieces of equipment are simply used, and the user has "outgrown" them in terms of their function in relation to that user. REI could do what many downhill-alpine ski shoppes used to do; Have a tailgate sale. The only thing REI would do would be to supply some space for individual outdoors persons to sell their own gear. Unlike online sales such as at EBay, potential buyers would not only have the option to see the piece of equipment first hand, but they could easily venture into REI at the same time to compare the item against similar pieces of gear. Buy used or buy new from REI? Will I like that sport, or not? Does it fit me? is it a fair price? All of these questions would be easily answered within a few minutes. REI would assume no responsibility for the sale of these items, but REI would be bringing outdoors people together (like Garage Sales) and quite possibly be generating sales from both the buyers and sellers. Sellers of equipment would have the money to upgrade equipment, buyers that failed to buy used gear at the Tailgate sale may decide its time to purchase directly from REI instead. The facts would have been weighed, and they are right there at an REI store. This would also take existing equipment out into the world with a purpose, rather than sitting in somebody's closet or basement. A separate idea for REI to consider as part of helping the world improve would be to increase the value of bikes; not just for recreational use, but as alternative to the use of cars, and public transit buses. It has worked well in Europe, and if we open our eyes and minds, it could work here in the United States. If not the leading source of car pollution in the world, we certainly are among the leaders for it. When possible and practical, its time for a change
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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
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Having lived in Maryland for seversal year prior to moving to Georgia, i have seen and used various REI locations in the greater Washingon D.C. area; i am in fact an REI member.
That said, I recently received an email about how REI rents equipment. After putting my location, i was shocked to see that REI does not offer any canoe or kayak rental in the Atlanta, Georgia area. I live just a few easy miles from the Chatttahoochee River, which includes equally easy access to the NPS Island Ford National Recreational Area; also situated on the river.
In turn, Roswell Road is a significant route thru the Roswell-Sandy Springs Area; a significant route of travel for the local population. There are several shopping centers in this area in need of tenents. The other year, Kroger Grocery stores closed one of their Sandy Springs location, leaving an large anchor store available to rent. Bigs lots closed a large store many years ago, also with lots of parking like the closed Kroger store. If this sounds like a downward trend in sales, i can assure you it is not. Mercedes Benz has gone into the same area in a big way, and other retailers are following suit. Redevelopment has begun in earnest.
I respectfully suggest that REI consider one of these locations for a retail store, or perhaps a specialized store that offers canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals. Perhaps an indoor climbing gym could be tied into such a location as well. While the sale of climbing gear does not make an outdoor retailer rich ( I have worked for and managed many small outdoors stores in my life, so i am fully aware ) I also know that climbing, climbing gear, and accessories to water sports such as paddles, life vests, and helmits do contirbute to the flow of customers into a store such as REI. With the Chattahoochee River so integrel to the community, REI would compliment the surrounding community perfectly. (The REI Perimeter store is simply too removed from the river to serve this purpose. ) I hope you take this request seriously, and forward my idea to whomever has the authority to give it serious consideration.
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