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REI executive hopes new store will encourage folks to get outside

The new Silverdale REI Store, scheduled to open in October, is an opportunity for REI to support the Kitsap Peninsula with services, classes and stewardship.

That’s the message Kevin Golic  brought to members of the Kitsap Peninsula Visitor and Convention Bureau at its annual meeting on Wednesday.

Golic is REI’s retail director for Washington and Alaska and he said that REI had been looking to locate in the Kitsap area for more than seven years.

“We had a number of locations we were looking at, but for various reasons the deals weren’t working out,” he said. “That’s why we’re so excited to get a store open here.”

REI announced last November its plans to open a 24,500-square-foot store at the intersection of NW Randall Way and Myhre Place NW. It is in the location that was previously Kitsap Sports, near Home Depot. The Silverdale REI store is expected to employ 50 people.

It will have a full line of winter and summer gear including equipment for sale and rental and clothing. Repair facilities for equipment including bicycles and winter sports gear will be offered. And there will be an area for clinics and classes, some of which will be provided by REI staff and some that will be taught by experts that REI will bring in.

The store ia a needed convenience for the more than 15,000 members of REI who live on the Kitsap Peninsula, Golic said.

“That’s part of it,” he said. “We wanted to provide them with a store that’s closer to them. Being over here will save them ferry time and the expense of coming to Seattle to shop. It’s a matter of customer service.”

Golic said he hopes the store will also engage others to try outdoor activities.

“Part of the focus is to introduce people to the outdoors,” he said. “There is so much over here and with our classes, we hope that more people will come out and learn about new things, or try new sports that they’ve had an interest in, but nowhere to go to learn about them.”

Golic also said the Kitsap Peninsula is a location where outdoor enthusiasts from Seattle and the East side travel to for enjoyment.

“Kitsap is really nice,” he said. “The amount of trails that are here and the improvements to them in the past five years is just amazing. There’s a place for anyone who wants to hike, bike or run. And there’s great trails for the casual walker or somebody who just wants to enjoy nature.”

Armed with national statistics, Golic said $650 billion is spent every year in the U.S. on outdoor recreation, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

“That’s one of every $25 spent in a year,” he said. “And statistics show that 80 percent of that is spent on lodging, restaurants, gas, gifts and other things that help the tourism economy. Only 20 percent is spent on gear and apparel.”

That’s one of the ways the new REI location will help the Kitsap economy, he said.

But REI also gives funds to help with outdoor causes. Through its stewardship programs, grants are made to enhance preservation causes and outdoor parks and trails. Recently, REI gave separate $10,000 gifts to the Great Peninsula Conservancy and the North Kitsap Trails Association.

Clear Creek Trail in Silverdale, which is within walking distance of the new REI location, received $5,000 of the money given to the conservancy.

Golic said employees of REI volunteered time last year to create or improve more than 50,000 miles of trails in areas where they operate. Golic said REI will build on its community partnership and expand its giving.

Plans are progressing for the new store, he added.

“We’ve already hired a manager,” he said. “She’s working now in Utah, but she grew up in the Forks area.”

The manager, Greta Eaton, is expected to be on hand when applicants for store sales positions begin being interviewed in late summer.

REI operates 127 stores in 31 states.

Golic said he anticipates the Sliverdale store pulling customers from Gig Harbor to Port Angeles.

“We’re just super excited to be here,” he said. “We’ve wanted this for a long time. It just took getting the right deal and now that that has happened, we’re looking forward to getting more people engaged.”

 

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