REI Store
Photo credit: Terry Chay

REI Reopens in One State, New Protocols Nationwide

More than half of REI’s 162 retail locations in the U.S. will begin limited operations. And three stores will unlock their doors with heightened safety precautions.

In a letter to members and customers, REI CEO Eric Artz today announced the co-op is preparing to reopen after shuttering its retail stores nearly 2 months ago to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

“Our hope and expectation is that more than half of our stores will be open for curbside pick-up in time for our Anniversary Sale, May 15–May 25, and a small number of stores will be open for in-store services as well,” Artz wrote on the REI blog.

In a subsequent news release, REI confirmed three stores in Montana will unlock doors and open to the public. To maintain safe social distancing, the co-op said it will limit the number of customers permitted in the store and operate at reduced hours. Currently, Montana has stores in Missoula, Bozeman, and Kalispell. REI slated to open a fourth location in Billings this summer.

As for other locations nationwide, REI said it will begin with curbside pickup operations, beginning this week. You can see a current list of curbside-ready locations here.

Artz also said REI will roll out “virtual events and gatherings for members, zero-contact shop services for bicycle maintenance at our stores, a virtual outfitting program, and an improved returns process.”

REI Reopens With Strict Safety Measures

The co-op said it will offer these services in more locations as it deems them ready. To that end, REI said it will use a “four factor” approach to determine whether a location is ready for consumer-facing operations: the co-op’s ability to ensure a set of detailed health and safety protocols; local community readiness and sentiment; federal, state, and local guidelines and restrictions; and facility and team operational readiness.

“When you come into our stores, our employees will be wearing face coverings, and we’re going to ask that you wear one too,” Artz noted. “It’s a simple thing that we can all do right now to take care of one another and, if you forget yours, we’ll have disposable face coverings available.”

Further, REI will require all employees to wear face masks in stores. Artz also appealed to customers to also wear masks, though REI will not require them to do so — unless mandated by local regulations. If customers do not have a mask, Artz said stores will make them available. Gloves will also be available for any employees or shoppers who wish to use them.

Additionally, REI will institute 6-foot distancing in all queueing areas, install plexiglass shields at all registers, and close all drinking fountains and dressing rooms.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the editor-in-chief of GearJunkie and a fan of virtually all sports and activities. From biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming — if it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.