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REI temporarily will close all stores beginning Monday because of COVID-19

Published March 16, 2020
President and CEO Eric Artz said the outdoor retailer will reopen March 27.

KENT, Wash. (BRAIN) — REI Co-op announced Sunday night it will close its 162 retail stores nationwide beginning Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Coop president and CEO Eric Artz announced the closures in an email.

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The outdoor retailer will reopen March 27, he said.

“I believe that is the right thing for our community,” Artz said. “In fact, I believe it is our duty — to do all we can to help keep one another safe in this unprecedented moment.”

Other national outdoor retailers are making similar moves: Patagonia has closed all its stores and online ordering. VF Corp, which owns Vans, The North Face, Timberland and Dickies, is closing all its stores. Under Armour, Nike, Lululemon and Columbia also are closing company stores. Peloton has closed its retail showrooms.

All REI employees will be paid during the closure, Artz said. All online orders from REI.com will be eligible for free shipping, and customers who have questions about gear are encouraged to go to REI Conversations.

“We’ve always been deliberate and transparent when making significant decisions about our business,” Artz said. “This is a difficult decision for any business, and I do not make it lightly. Our decisions are grounded in the belief that there are more important things than business right now — we owe that to one another.”

A week ago, Artz emailed co-op members to inform them of company measures to protect customers and employees, including increasing the frequency and rigor of cleaning and sanitizing the stores, distribution centers and offices. 

Two REI office employees in Washington state possibly were exposed to the virus March 2 and five office campuses closed for two days for deep cleaning and reopened. REI has not said if the employees tested positive.

Artz also said last week that REI Adventures trips — which range from weekend getaways to three-week treks on foot, by kayak, canoe and bike — will have terms updated to provide more flexibility to cancel without financial penalties. Artz did not update the status of the trips in Sunday’s email.

“Know that we will continue to work closely with our teams and public health officials throughout the country to understand how to best serve your needs, and serve our customers as soon as local conditions allow,” Artz said. “We’ll continue to share information with our members and employees as we move forward together into a future that’s hard to predict.”

Signs on the door of the REI in Boulder, Colorado, Monday morning.
Topics associated with this article: Coronavirus

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