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National Retailers

REI to open two stores in Florida

The co-op will increase its Sunshine State footprint to seven locations with new stores set to debut in Palm Beach Gardens and Tallahassee next spring.

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REI Co-op is doubling down on its brick-and-mortar presence in Florida with two new locations slated for the Sunshine State in 2022.

REI this week said it plans to open a 25,000-square-foot co-op in Palm Beach Gardens and a 22,000-square-foot co-op in Tallahassee next spring. In addition to offering the usual assortment of outdoor gear and apparel, each new store will also offer a full-service bike shop.

The co-op already operates five stores in Florida, three of which have opened in the last year: Boca Raton (opened 2020), Gainesville (opened 2020), Jacksonville (opened 2013), Tampa (opened 2021), and Winter Park (opened 2017).

“From our Jacksonville store that opened in 2013 to our newest Tampa location that welcomed its first customers this spring, we look forward to continuing to foster the outdoor community in their year-round activities,” said Gail Kirkland, REI regional director for the South. “We’re here to serve both locals and visitors who are drawn to Florida’s climate and incredible natural places to be active.”

Since launching in Florida in 2013, REI has seen its membership grow more than 75 percent to 391,000 members.

As it does whenever opening a new location, REI has pledged to invest in local parks and nonprofits. The co-op said that over the last nine years, it has invested more than $300,000 in Florida land agencies and nonprofits. Recent donations in the state include Florida State Parks Foundation, Florida Trails Association, and Friends of Alafia State Park in Tampa.

REI is adding to its footprint—which currently includes 168 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia—at a time of transition for the co-op. The company not only saw 2020 sales dip 11.8 percent to $2.75 billion, but it also posted a loss of $34 million, down significantly from a $21 million profit the year before.

Read more: Did REI fare better or worse than other outdoor businesses in 2020?

However, the co-op entered 2021 in a strong cash position. Last September, REI sold its custom-built 400,000-square-foot campus in Bellevue, Wash., for $390 million to Facebook after listing the property just a month earlier. The company in late February said it would open a new corporate satellite office in Issaquah, Wash., and implement a work-from-home policy for its corporate employees.

What’s more, the outdoor industry is rolling as people continue to buy the clothing and equipment needed for their camping, hiking, biking, and boating excursions. Wall Street, for example, has been especially bullish on certain outdoor businesses of late. Look for that momentum to continue even in the post-pandemic economy.