News that REI Co-Op is coming to Jackson elicited cheers from Facebook commenters but also a lot of worries that the specialty outdoor retail giant would lure business from the more than a dozen shops already here and the many outdoor trip providers.
REI announced on Monday that it will open a store next summer in the 15,000-square-foot Powderhorn Plaza space that was occupied by Lucky’s Market until February. The store, (formal address 974 W. Broadway) will offer a full-service bike and ski and snowboard shop for maintenance and repairs, and “local experiences.”
“Yes!!!!!!” one Facebook commenter said. “Great news! Love REI!” said another.
Others vowed to support businesses rooted in Jackson: “What about our beloved local small businesses? Skinny Skis and Teton Mountaineering will never lose my business to REI — guaranteed!”
Some had political opinions: “Great bringing their liberal agenda from Seattle.” “Target now REI, Jackson is too leftist liberal, Sad for the family owned small businesses.”
REI, headquartered in Seattle, is definitely not a small business. It has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia, plus an ecommerce site and an online REI Outlet.
The company is a member-owned co-op. Anyone can be a customer, but members pay a $20 lifetime fee and share in REI’s profits via an annual dividend. There are more than 19 million members worldwide, it said.
“In addition REI actively works with nonprofits across the country to steward and maintain local trails, parks and public lands and connect people to the outdoors. Prior to the store opening in Jackson, REI will look for ways to invest in Wyoming’s outdoor community.”
Though this will be Wyoming’s first REI store, the co-op stressed that it already has connections to the state. Its adventure travel company, it said, has offered guided multiday hiking, kayaking and family trips in Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks for more than a decade (though those are limited now due to the coronavirus).
And, it said, there are thousands of Equality State residents who are co-op members.
“Jackson is the ideal place to serve our more than 41,000 lifetime members in Wyoming and the millions of people who adventure in the region every year,” a press release said.
That’s more than 7% of Wyoming residents.
In addition to gear, REI Jackson will offer workshops and classes to “connect people to outdoor experiences in the region,” the release said.
“REI helped more than 325,000 people get outside through classes, day outings and events last year,” the release said.
The company said it plans to hire more than 30 employees for the Jackson operation, offering “a wide variety of benefits, including generous product and service discounts, competitive pay and retirement contributions.”