REI Expands Used Gear Biz with Trade-In Program and Pilot of Standalone Used Pop-Up Shops

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Although the program is yet to include paddlesport-specific gear, REI Co-op’s latest efforts to encourage consumers to upcycle and purchase used gear is still a win for us all.

Despite a challenging retail environment, the member-owned gear co-op says its online used gear business alone is up nearly 100 percent compared to last year — in part due to demand from millennial customers who prioritize renting or purchasing used over buying new gear.

REI Co-op announced the expansion of its “recommerce” business by piloting two used-gear pop-up stores and its trade-in program, giving members more ways to buy and share gently used outdoor gear and apparel and keeping high-quality products rotating through the co-op community at more accessible price points. During a time when more people are turning to the outdoors and discovering new, socially distant, activities, REI continues to be a resource for gear and inspiration.

To expand availability of used gear to more members across the country, the co-op launched its online recommerce business in 2018, supplementing its members-only Garage Sale events in REI stores across the nation. Today, despite a challenging retail environment, the online business alone is up nearly 100 percent compared to last year, in part due to demand from millennial customers who prioritize renting or purchasing used over buying new gear.

“Our recommerce business continues to exceed our expectations,” said Ken Voeller, REI manager of new business development and recommerce. “We see many benefits to expanding this business. First, as an opportunity to introduce our members to more outdoor activities through lower priced products. Also, having a robust used gear business helps reduce the co-op’s overall impact on the environment as we work to achieve our climate and zero waste objectives.”

Beginning this month, REI members can play a more active role by trading in their own used gear through the co-op’s online, member-only trade-in program. Members can send in gently used gear in exchange for REI gift card credit, while keeping products out of the landfill. The co-op is currently offering up to 50 percent of the resale value for most items.

“Buying a piece of used gear is one of the best ways you or I can reduce our carbon footprint,” continued Voeller. “Looking ahead, we have a number of product launches that will continue to accelerate our efforts in this space and solve problems for our members around purchasing used gear or trading in their own gear for someone else to enjoy.”

REI is also testing an all-new retail format with a pilot of two standalone used gear pop-up stores to continue driving growth of its resale business. The pop-ups are located near the Manhattan Beach, California and Conshohocken, Pennsylvania REI stores and are stocked with high-quality used outdoor gear and apparel. These products will be available for purchase by REI members at discounted prices. The two new pop-up stores are in addition to the seven new retail stores REI will open in 2020.

Although anyone can shop at the co-op, a lifetime membership to the co-op costs a one-time fee of $20 and unlocks perks including an annual dividend; discounts on classes, rentals or shop maintenance; and access to member-exclusive offerings like the co-op’s used gear trade-in program, Garage Sales, and pop-up used gear stores.

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia.

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