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Silverdale REI taking shape
Just inside the front door, a row of eager young people stand at cash registers with their tutors right behind them, watching their every move.
In every direction from there, legions of employees and volunteers unpack and position everything from shoes to sleeping bags on brand new shiny shelving. And above it all, crews hang scenic pictorials of people pursing outdoor activities.
The new Silverdale REI is a week away from it's grand opening.
According to store manager Greta Eaton Caulfield, at the strike of 10 a.m. Friday Oct. 4, the doors will open to the public for the first time.
"We're just so excited," she said. "It's a really big thing for REI to be in Silverdale - our first store on the Kitsap Peninsula."
Caulfield was chosen to manage the store after a 20 year career with REI. In that time she's been a store manager Grand Junction, Colo., and Sandy, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City.
But this, the third store she's opened and been manager of from day one, is special to her. She's coming home.
"I grew up in Forks," she said. "I remember driving through Silverdale when it was just a road with a gas station and a market. When I was in high school, the (Kitsap) mall went in and that was where we always went to shop for new school clothes."
Her first task was to oversee hiring of 50 employees. REI received more than 800 applications and those who were hired range in age from 16 to 66. They come from all around the peninsula, including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and Port Orchard, and are students, professional sports enthusiasts and some who have come out of retirement to work at REI.
This is the ninth store for REI in the Puget Sound and the company, which began in 1938, has more than 20,000 members who live on the Kitsap Peninsula.
"Finally there is a store here so that our members don't have to go to Seattle or Tacoma to shop," Caulfield said. "We've wanted to have a store over here for some time, but until now, we just couldn't find the right location."
The store, at 10903 NW Myhre Place, is where the former Kitsap Sports was located. REI is leasing the building from the owner of that business. There is 15,000 square feet of space, about 3,000 more than the typical REI store, Caulfield said.
In designing the inside space, Caulfield said the company decided to limit the storage space and offices and have more space "to put more product on our floor - offering more for our customers."
Because Silverdale is so close to the REI warehouse in Seattle, she anticipates shipments three times a week.
"And we will get product from our vendors almost every day," she said. Those who order items online for pick-up in the store will have faster service, too.
The store itself has some of the same designs as other REIs, she said, but there are some special things about the Silverdale store.
"There's history with the ice ax design that is used as the door handle at most locations," she said. "But here we have that design on the brackets that hold up the shelves."
The ice ax was the first thing the two founders of REI went looking for and could't find. So that's when the decided to begin the company as a member-owned co-op.
Also inside the Silverdale store are wood laser-carved elevation maps that hang on the wall above the shoe area. There, too, are wood details made from two old barns in Mennonite communities in Pennsylvania. And there are red wood benches for customers to sit on while trying on shoes.
Throughout the store on the walls are outdoor scenes that camouflage storage areas at the ceiling level. And at the main cash register there is a large mural photograph taken at the Kalaloch Lodge on the Washington coast.
The perimeter of the store floor is carpeted, while the center area remains the original poured concrete. That was done, Caulfield said, to allow for easier movement of displays and shelving in the interior area.
The cash register stands are made of marmot Armstrong flooring, which is recycled and renewed, and which holds up better, not showing scratches.
"Throughout the store, we've kept in mind our environmental footprint," she said. "We have used recycled products and we've met energy efficiency. In fact, our lights are motion sensitive so that if there isn't movement in an area, like in the offices, for awhile, the lights will dim."
And, she said, there are skylights that have solar panels which help to add light to the building and keep down energy use.
To set up the store, the crew, made up of new employees, training employees from other REI locations, and volunteers from its corporate offices, has to put away everything that comes on five 53-foot semi-trailer trucks. Caulfield said Friday that the crews were three semis into the process and expected another on Monday and a final one on Wednesday. Each semi has 50 pallets of merchandise.
"We'll stock the store in one week," she said. "We have a private friends and family event Wednesday evening and we have to be ready by then."Plans are still being firmed up for the Grand Opening on Oct. 4, but Caulfield says almost everything is set.
"The one thing I'm really excited for, that I'm 99 percent sure will happen, is that we've asked the Suquamish Tribe to come out and sing a blessing at the grand opening. It's just something that's important to us because the tribes are such a quintessential part of the Northwest."She's also hoping to get to meet the longest local REI member living in the area.
"We thought maybe we'd find someone with a membership card in the hundreds," she said. "When we checked, we found out member number 25 lives in this area, so we reached out to his family and asked them to come to the opening."
That's special she said because it shows that someone who has enjoyed the outdoors for 75 years still believes in REI.
"And now, he has a store in his neighborhood," she said.
Here are the events planned for the opening:
REI will celebrate the grand opening of its Silverdale store with co-op members and the local community from Friday, Oct. 4 to Sunday, Oct. 6.
The store is located at the intersection of NW Randall Way and Myhre Place NW. A number of activities, events and giveaways are scheduled throughout the weekend in honor of the store’s opening, including:
Shop Early, Get a Gift – The first 200 people (age 12 and older) who visit the store each day will receive a limited-edition CamelBak water bottle with an REI gift card inside ranging from $10 to $100. Doors open at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. on Sunday.
Enjoy Free Food – Early birds can enjoy a continental breakfast throughout the weekend, served one hour before the store opens. Monica’s Waterfront Bakery will serve up frittatas, coffee and hot chocolate all weekend, and mini donuts from Papa’s Place are available on Friday and Sunday.
Enter to Win – REI members and customers can enter to win gear sweepstakes packages, featuring GoPro, snow sports and travel products.
Attend Classes and Events – REI offers a variety of educational classes, outdoor presentations and volunteer opportunities in the Puget Sound area. Event and registration information is available at www.rei.com/silverdale or www.rei.com/outdoorschool.
In each of its communities, REI partners with local nonprofits that work to preserve and maintain well-known outdoor spaces through activities such as event promotion, gear donations and financial contributions.
Locally, REI granted North Kitsap Trails Association and the Great Peninsula Conservancy with $10,000 each to support stewardship efforts on the Kitsap Peninsula. REI staff members also volunteered with the Great Peninsula Conservancy on September 21 at Indianola Waterfront and Woodland Preserve.
REI Silverdale offers the top brands of gear and clothing for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking and more.
The store will also provide shop services for bikes, skis and snowboards. Store hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.