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REI Aiming to Reach Runners of All Levels

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Outdoor specialist REI is reshaping its store layouts, category approach and assortments to reach more runners. Since 2019, REI’s performance run business has grown 65 percent. And more category growth is on the horizon through additional product offerings and deeper engagement with local run clubs in the 41 states where Seattle-based REI, which has 21.5 million co-op members, operates its online business and 174 stores.

In FY21 ended Jan. 1, REI generated net income of more than $97.6 million compared to a net loss of more than $34.0 million in FY20 on 36 percent topline expansion to nearly $3.74 billion. Annual operating income was $324.3 million against an operating loss of $50.5 million.

“From those participating in their first marathon or seeking a new solo sport, to seasoned athletes looking to set a new personal best or explore new running routes and terrain, we’re committed to being their partner and one-stop-shop for gear, inspiration, tips, training and more,” said Fan Zhou, REI’s run activity director. “We will focus equally on men and women, and we believe that the co-op should be welcoming to all runners at all levels.”

REI is currently supplementing performance run products from its key vendor partners in Hoka, On Running, Brooks, New Balance, Salomon and Smartwool with two of its own brands, Active Pursuit and Swiftland Running. The latter, described as a versatile line of apparel, accessories and gear, features inclusive sizing for men and women. The collection, being expanded with additional SKUs this spring, represents REI’s perspective on high quality trail running apparel.

“We are looking for ways to deepen our relationship with our existing brand partners and opportunities to add new brands that align with our values and mission in 2022 and beyond," Zhou told Footwear Insight Extra. “Through our investment with Path Ahead Ventures, we have a goal of adding 300 BIPOC owned brands over the course of the next 10 years across the co-op.”

Co-op customers in the Boston and Los Angeles markets will notice an expanded presence of performance running products and a focus on local running events. In Beantown, the co-op will be more involved with the local running community through race sponsorships, including the Boston women’s 10K and its own 5K.

In a separate development, REI is teaming up with Hipcamp for a second consecutive year to sponsor Outdoor Journal Tour’s #WeHikeToHeal, a month-long outdoor wellness project focused on improving mental health outcomes for U.S. women. The #WeHikeToHeal initiative commences May 1 and culminates with a campout and retreat at a black-owned ranch in Crawfordsville, GA from May 28-30. More information, including registration, is available at www.outdoorjournaltour.com/wehiketoheal.

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Apr 20, 2022

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