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By Cathy Carroll
January 26, 2005
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), the outdoor-gear retail giant, announced that in November it will open a 28,000-square-foot store occupying all of the Old Mill District's former powerhouse, the brick building with three silver smokestacks that punctuate the skyline of Bend's west side.
The company will begin hiring about 55 full-time and part-time staff in September, and is expected to help drive business and boost development at The Shops at The Old Mill District center.
The store will feature the new format of the company's latest stores, including the one in the upscale Pearl District of Portland, said Mike Foley, a spokesman for REI.
It will rent outdoor recreation equipment including skis, snowshoes, tents and sleeping bags. It will also include a camping-stove demonstration table, a water-filter testing station and a hiking-boot test trail, Foley said.
"People have been asking to open one in Bend for a while," he said. "We have 5,000 active members in Bend, which means they made purchases in last two years."
The business operates as a cooperative with 2.5 million active members and 76 stores nationwide. Non-members can shop at REI, but members who pay a one-time fee of $15 receive benefits including an annual member refund on eligible purchases, Foley said.
REI's business success allowed the co-op to return $41 million in refunds to its active members in 2003 and donate nearly $2 million in support of the outdoors and outdoor recreation, according to the company's Web site.
The location will be more convenient for Central Oregon shoppers who previously traveled to stores in the Portland area and Eugene or ordered online from www.rei.com, and paid for shipping. People will be able to order items online and have them shipped to the Bend store for pickup at no extra cost, Foley added.
The retailer offers gear for hiking, cycling, climbing, paddling and winter sports, carrying its own brand and top, national brands.
REI boasts employees who are knowledgeable about the outdoors and outdoor equipment and who are friendly in helping any customer, from novice to the highly accomplished, prepare for outdoor adventures, he said.
Job-seekers can apply online at www.rei.com, Foley said. Wages for part-time sales staff and cashiers range from $8 to $13 an hour. Wages for repair technicians and supervisors are higher, he said.
The store will make way for development of the north end of the Old Mill shopping area, said Karen Ford, a spokeswoman for the Shops at the Old Mill.
"REI has such a huge following, they will be such a big draw and can't help but be a big thing for all the other shops on that side," she said.
The center is in its second phase of development. Two new buildings are under construction next to the Red Robin and Greg's Grill, an 8,400-square-foot steak house, is scheduled to open at the end of the summer.
Regal Cinema plans to build an addition for about 10 new screens and more property is to be developed between the powerhouse and Bond Street.
"I don't know when it will be built," Ford said. "We are looking for the right mix of tenants. We are working with a land specialist on the best way to add on that will fit with the design of the existing center."
All the news!
Read more . . .
REI plans new store in Bend Oregon
Photos of the new REI store in Bend
REI outdoor used gear sale in Bend Oregon
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