With Millennials In Mind, Outdoor Retailer REI Doubles Down On Rentals And Used Gear Sales

In the latest sign that sustainability is the retail industry’s big trend, specialty outdoor gear retailer REI is “significantly” expanding its rental and used gear sales programs and trade-in options.

While REI, known for its co-op membership model, has historically hosted in-store “garage” sales a few times a year to resell gently used products that customers have returned, the new initiative is taking that up several notches, with used product sales now to be held year-round both in stores and online, REI interim president and CEO Eric Artz said.

The company, which has 154 stores in 35 states and D.C., also more than doubled its rental program to 85 locations in December. It plans to roll out the rental service to 115 stores this year and include items such as snowshoes, skis, snowboards and fully equipped camping and backpacking kits.

“It’s good sustainable business and what our customers have been looking for,” Artz said in an interview. “It really comes back to the circular economy. We can see a big purpose. … We are leaning into this in a big way.”

The Kent, Washington-based company will also test online rental reservations this year. This month, it will test a bike trade-in program in Denver.

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