REI annouinced that the co-op will work in 2019 to make the outdoors more accessible and sustainable by significantly expanding its gear rental program and investing in used gear and gear trade-in options – in-store and online. New rental options will include snowshoes, skis, snowboards, fully equipped camping and backpacking kits and more in 115 stores across the country.
By elevating re-use as a core business strategy, REI also believes it also satisfies a growing millennial consumer audience, 36 percent of whom say they would rather rent than own a product.
“We’re determined to make it as easy as possible for people to make more sustainable choices,” said Ben Steele, REI’s chief customer officer. “In 2017 we made it possible to search for product sustainability attributes online, and in 2018 launched our Product Sustainability Standards to ensure that every product we sell meets a minimum set of expectations. In 2019, we see the expanded rental and used gear program as keeping us moving toward a sustainable and accessible outdoor future by offering new models of access to great outdoor gear and apparel.”
REI also launched “Find Out,” a new national brand campaign which reframes how people think about the powerful role the outdoors can play in their lives and sets out to tackle head-on the trend that more than half of Americans do not recreate outside even once a year. Building on the #OptOutside movement that has prompted millions of Americans to reject Black Friday, Find Out asks questions to spark curiosity. It launches with three videos designed to get people off mobile devices and into fresh air: Silence, Dirt, Earthworm.
“No matter if you live in a city or have access to wilderness, we want to help more people discover how time outside makes life better. All the science shows it,” said Artz. “We can inspire people, but we can also make it easier and more affordable to get outside, more sustainably. We do this in part by offering high-quality products that are designed to last, and by coming up with inventive ways to maximize the lifespans of those products.”
REI also announced record 2018 financial results. Last year, REI made a record $2.78 billion, grew 6 percent and added more than 1 million new members, bringing the co-op’s total membership to more than 18 million.
Full audited financials for 2018 are available here.