EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › REI - Analyzed by Forbes Magazine
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

REI - Analyzed by Forbes Magazine

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
REI is profiled in a current issue of Forbes Magazine. One of Forbes' business writers does his/her usual by-the-numbers reporting, and make some commentary and analysis. Interesting read (they even mention the former gear.com). Some highlights:

- Instead of offering house-brand items on the cheap, ... wants REI-tagged apparel and equipment to be better and, often, more expensive than gear offered by bigger brands.
- The CEO is pressuring apparel and gearmakers to create more clothing and equipment for women.
- ... wants to boost sales 10% this year by opening additional stores and by stuffing REI's gear-chocked catalogs into more mailboxes.
post #2 of 21
I remember REI when I was a little kid. It was operating out of a store front on a downtown Seattle street (Pike or Pine?) and was fairly small. My older brother was a member. I joined in '67 (still only one store) so I could buy an REI Cruiser backpack. It cost $30! It took me quite a while to earn the money for it.

I rarely go there anymore. It's just another corporate giant. A local store gives dividends that are just as good and my money stays here in town. REI used to pride itself on offering high quality for lower prices. That doesn't seem to be the case nowdays.
post #3 of 21
yup. I worked the College Park MD store during '91-'93 selling ski eqpt and hiking boots etc ("footwear" as they say in "the biz"). it was disgusting the way the managers were into color-scheming and "presentation" issues. the emphasis was on encouraging people to stay and SHOP. not to provide great goods/gear at great prices. the drift was apparent that long ago.

I recall browsing friends' REI catalogs in the early 80s and remembering that the whole point was the co-op and volume buying.

greed can't be stopped.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pheft
I remember REI when I was a little kid. It was operating out of a store front on a downtown Seattle street (Pike or Pine?) and was fairly small. My older brother was a member. I joined in '67 (still only one store) so I could buy an REI Cruiser backpack. It cost $30! It took me quite a while to earn the money for it.

I rarely go there anymore. It's just another corporate giant. A local store gives dividends that are just as good and my money stays here in town. REI used to pride itself on offering high quality for lower prices. That doesn't seem to be the case nowdays.
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
...it was disgusting the way the managers were into color-scheming and "presentation" issues.
Hmm... if they focused on presentation issues, that's pretty sad. As long as I can remember, that store has always resembled a thrift shop... with nice stuff.

REI has opened two new stores in the DC area, that makes 5 all together in the Baltimore/DC/VA area... actually very surprised at the focus.
post #5 of 21
when i first went into REI, i really loved the idea of the coop and dividend etc. but the more i received their mailings and ads, the more i realized REI functions more like a high sales volume retailer corporation than a co-op distributing low cost high quality merchandise that is in demand. they seem to try to create demand instead of listening to demand. i can't help but thinking the message of their mailings is "BUY BUY BUY!" i still shop their for my outdoors needs, but mostly because they are the closest shop with decent merchandise and i have an even lower opinion of EMS. fwiw, the dividend wasn't much this year, thank goodness for the 20% off one item coupon.
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Her plans for REI are just as ambitious. Jewell wants to boost sales 10% this year by opening additional stores and by stuffing REI's gear-chocked catalogs into more mailboxes. If you aren't in the market for a carabiner (a metal loop to hitch ropes), you might be intrigued by the more whimsical fare, including glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, inflatable pink flamingos--for campers with bad taste or a sense of humor--and those ice cream balls.
*pukes*

i thought i noticed an increase in wasted paper coming through my mail box lately!
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Hmm... if they focused on presentation issues, that's pretty sad.
what's sad is they completely re-arrange the store every 3-4 months so that you can't find anything! they're definitely big on the presentation front at my local store.
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by twinceramic
Hmm... if they focused on presentation issues, that's pretty sad. As long as I can remember, that store has always resembled a thrift shop... with nice stuff.

REI has opened two new stores in the DC area, that makes 5 all together in the Baltimore/DC/VA area... actually very surprised at the focus.
I think I'd have to agree that compared to the Bailey's Xroads "other DC area store" at the time, the College Park store was pure cheeze in a good, "we didn't spend a lot to create ambience" way. it used to be a Grand Union grocery and very little was done to convert it.

I'm just emphasizing the shift in focus at the management level. it wasn't about getting people good gear for good prices, it was about pushing merchandise. to me, that is contrary to the point of a co-op. but maybe they rationalize it with emphasis on increased volume giving bigger buying power. all I know is, their stuff sells itself to most older, traditional members. it's clear they were courting a new type of customer -- someone who doesn't care about membership, just wants to look "outdoorsy" or whatever is the slang within a certain demographic. :
post #9 of 21
I have a low member number for REI when they covered both Pike and Pine. They were mainly a hardgoods store then with decent prices. They have turned into a clothing store because that's where the markup is. Sad, but the yuppies probably love it.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky
I have a low member number ...
OK Lucky, what's your number? Mine's 164334. Anyone out there can use it, by the way. Feel free.
post #11 of 21
I personally don't see what everyone is complaining about. REI is just another place to look for gear you may want. REI carries alot of gear I like and want, even if they also carry 'fluff'. I bought some K2 apache crossfire a few months ago for $400 on their web site, had them shipped to my local store for free. I bought the bindings somewhere else, and had them mounted when I was out at Alta in March. I only have one local ski shop here and they were out of the crossfires.

REI still carries the top end gear, now they just also carry alot of other stuff. That is fine with me. They also have good sales on the top gear. In the past year I have picked up a new sierra designs tent, some new marmot down sleeping bags, and the before mentioned skis. The average I paid for the items was about 30-40% off retail.

Another reason I go their is the kids clothes. Not many places have good outdoors gear and clothes to fit my 5 year old (LLBean is the other). Their kids stuff is nice and I get it on sale at the end of the season for next year.
post #12 of 21
I thought big chain stores were for trying on gear so you could buy the right size online cheaper.
post #13 of 21
The reason some of us complain about REI is that we remember it when it was a climbers' and hikers' co-op that operated out of one funky store that smelled of creosote. The employees were all climbers of some skill and knew the gear and the local mountains very well. Funky is not the way it is anymore. It has lost its old character and we don't like the way it feels to go there anymore. It's just another corporate outlet. Membership doesn't feel like you belong to a special club like it used to, now that it has stores all over the place. So, we complain and put down the way REI is now. It's fun and harmless, allows us to bask in the "good old days," and continue to be part of that special club.

When I became a member of REI they didn't deal in skis, bikes, watercraft, tennis, etc. Just hiking and climbing gear. It's really different now.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by powderhound24
I thought big chain stores were for trying on gear so you could buy the right size online cheaper.
exactly. and I don't want to hear the big chain stores complaining when they are replaced by online retailers. :
post #15 of 21
Guys,

I understand the lament about REI, but they still do alot of good. I think they donated about $2million to worthy causes last year. Yeah they had almost 900Mil in sales, but that's not all bad. I know I would rather spend my money there than sprawl-mart. At least REI has some consicence...

L
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lshull
Guys,

I understand the lament about REI, but they still do alot of good. I think they donated about $2million to worthy causes last year. Yeah they had almost 900Mil in sales, but that's not all bad. I know I would rather spend my money there than sprawl-mart. At least REI has some consicence...

L

Perhaps some of us, and I include myself in the group, have been a bit harsh with Sam's Evil Empire:

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2655615

"Wal-Mart has embarked on a partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and is committing $35 million over the next decade to purchase one acre of what it calls "priority wildlife habitat" for every acre it has developed for company use. The Arizona-Utah purchase is one of six projects Wal-Mart is seeding initially."
post #17 of 21
I still hate wal-mart.
post #18 of 21
I too have been an REI member for about 25 years. In the beginning I liked the rebate and the special deal flyers with items at deep discount you got every month. Bought mostly mountaineering stuff and some clothes.

Haven't bought anything for years and now that both my wife and I work at LL Bean, took this past winter off tho, the deals for employees at Bean are amazing so that's where we get most of my outdoor gear and clothes. Also get a few things at Sierra Trading Post out of Cheyenne, Wy.

Interesting about the catalog comment cause Bean sends millions and millions of catalogs out. When a big mailing goes out, we get warned and like clockwork there is a big spike in orders. I work in package and shipping, during the peak season, Nov 15-Dec 15th we package and ship 130,000 orders per day.
post #19 of 21
Pheft: Now everybody knows how old you are. Mine is 336xxx, and that's from the early 70's. I still use the beautiful norwegian welt Vasque boots I got from them back then.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by evansilver
Pheft: Now everybody knows how old you are. Mine is 336xxx, and that's from the early 70's. I still use the beautiful norwegian welt Vasque boots I got from them back then.
Yeah, I'm an old fart for sure. I still have and use my gators that I bought in about 1968. They work really well for XC skiing.
post #21 of 21
pheft, I've got you beat 1555## and I don't even remember when I joined.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: General Skiing Discussion
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › On the Snow (Skiing Forums) › General Skiing Discussion › REI - Analyzed by Forbes Magazine