REI Enters Publishing; Best Buy Enters Connected Fitness
The national, outdoor co-operative is abandoning its full-price mail order catalog to launch its own print magazine, Uncommon Path, this fall on select U.S. newsstands and all 155 of its stores. The purpose of the publication, produced in conjunction with a Hearst magazines affiliate, will be to further promote the outdoor lifestyle—both its products and the issues it faces such as climate change. Additionally, REI hopes to bolster environmental and outdoor journalism through the effort, partly through a new partnership that will channel matching funds to nonprofit newsrooms. This year, the 18-million member co-op will donate $100,000 for local, nonprofit news organizations.
In other retail news last week:
• Best Buy is expanding its “Connected Fitness” section online to 100+ brick-and-mortar stores by year-end, offering customers everything from the $2,000 NordicTrack Studiocycle to the $200 Hyperice vibrating fitness roller and a $128 cycling shoe. Best Buy intends to train associates about the workout gear and how to install in homes. The branded fitness assortment is likely to have little, if any, overlap with the fitness gear sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods. Also, Best Buy gives Icon Health & Fitness a new distribution channel for its products, which have lost some distribution muscle over recent seasons due to declining presence of Sears.
• Foot Locker’s Champs Sports banner has created an in-store shop for women with lifestyle-inspired footwear, accessories and apparel that will be expanded this summer from its initial placement in Dallas.
• Google Express is merging into Google Shopping, providing users with a personalized hub to search and discover new products. There is also direct checkout availability via a universal cart.