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Columbia Business Monthly

REI Co-Op To Open 20,000 Square-Foot Store In Columbia’s BullStreet District

Mar 26, 2019 11:18AM ● By Kathleen Maris

REI Co-op announced plans to build a 20,000-sqare-foot store in the BullStreet District in downtown Columbia, bringing a wide assortment of quality outdoor gear, experiences, and expertise to the district.

South Carolina’s first urban gigabit community, the BullStreet District is known as the largest urban redevelopment project on the East Coast. The growing lifestyle district is located one mile from the State House, the University of South Carolina, and the Main Street District.

REI’s move to the district is a major step in fulfilling the new urbanist vision for the area as a walkable entertainment district with a mix of restaurants, retailers, and public spaces.

REI Columbia will be the second South Carolina location for the national retailer, with plans to open in Spring 2020 near the northwest corner of the district, at the intersection of Bull Street and Freed Street, one block from Colonial Drive. During the construction of REI’s store, Freed Street will be reconfigured to better connect Bull Street to the entry plaza of Segra Park. The store will be designed by Wakefield Beasley Architects in Atlanta and built by McCrory Construction of Columbia.

The more than 80-year-old Seattle-based company will offer quality outdoor gear in addition to workshops that will connect people to a life outdoors. A national leader in outdoor experiences, REI helped more than 350,000 people across the country get outside through classes and events last year. With BullStreet’s central location amongst Columbia’s downtown districts and situated near key access points for 277 and 126, both Midlands residents and South Carolinians statewide will have access to REI’s goods and services.

REI currently has 154 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Its other South Carolina store is in Greenville, which opened in 2011.

REI has been recognized as one of Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for 22 consecutive years.

“REI Co-op is exactly the kind of retailer that our 20-year development plan envisions with a dynamic mix of residential, retail, restaurant, and recreational uses,” said Robert Hughes, president of Hughes Development Corporation and master developer of the BullStreet District. “REI is on the cutting edge of lifestyle retailing that promotes the love of the outdoors, which our region embraces. The company is known for providing top quality goods and services for the outdoors, and for putting an emphasis on giving back to the community in many ways. Their consistently high ranking for their workplace environment says volumes about their core values.”

The BullStreet District, Columbia’s development of the Three Rivers Greenway, and growing enthusiasm for celebrating the outdoors were important attractions for the company. The BullStreet District’s plans for daylighting Smith Branch Creek and constructing a 20-acre public park, planned to open later this year, will both compliment REI’s new location.

“We are thrilled to add Columbia, S.C. to our growing list of new locations in the South. This vibrant community is known for its incredible access to cycle and paddle opportunities,” says Gail Kirkland, REI retail director for the South. “We look forward to joining the community and further connecting our local members to the outdoor places they love.”

“The progress made in the BullStreet District within the first five years of a 20-year buildout plan is remarkable,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “We welcome REI Co-op to Columbia as the first of many retail partners that will add to our city’s growing vitality in so many ways. REI’s history as a good corporate partner is impressive, and we look forward to working with them.”

As a co-op, protecting wild spaces and investing in spaces for outdoor recreation is a key part of REI’s mission. The co-op annually gives back nearly 70 percent of its profits to the outdoor community. In South Carolina, REI invested a total of $12,000 in the Anne Springs Close Greenway in York County and the Foothills Trail Conference in the upstate. As REI gets closer to opening in Columbia, the co-op plans to invest further in the local outdoor community in the Midlands and surrounding regions.

With the new BullStreet location, Midlands residents will have local access to REI’s selection of the best gear for the region’s most popular outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, camping, and paddling.

While anyone may shop at REI, members pay $20 for a lifetime membership and share in the company’s profits through an annual dividend. There are more than 122,000 lifetime REI members in South Carolina. REI is a member-owned co-op, founded in 1938 and dedicated to inspiring, educating, and outfitting its members for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.