REI finds an audience for used gear
Addressing needs for both sustainability and affordability, REI is making its used gear website permanent while adding a number of enhancements.
The site, in pilot since October 2017, is basically an online version of its in-store Garage Sales, events that regularly draw crowds but are limited to members who live near physical REI stores. The site sells lightly-used returned products that may require cleaning, but not repair.
On average, products from REI.com/used can be purchased for up to 65 percent below the same new items. REI launched the site partly because it found the cost of brand-new gear can be a barrier to getting people outdoors.
“In its first 10 months, the beta test has been successful beyond all expectation, which tells us there is an inherent appetite for high-quality, lightly used product at lower price points,” said Peter Whitcomb, REI’s director of strategy and leader of the co-op’s used gear efforts.
The updated site features a search function, member-to-member gear swaps, and additional brands and categories.
The program also aligns with the retailer’s broader sustainability efforts. In April, REI unveiled a set of product sustainability standards that hold vendors and other partners to higher standards.
Greg Gausewitz, REI’s manager of product sustainability, said, “If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking to reduce your environmental footprint, you can approach this from both ends: by looking for more sustainably made products at the outset, and by getting more life out of existing products by purchasing used gear.”
Also in the outdoor space, The North Face in June began piloting an online store selling “renewed” apparel items that have been returned or initially found to be defective or damaged. Patagonia last fall launched a website where consumers can trade, sell and buy second-hand Patagonia goods.
Consignment stores selling vintage and “gently used” stores have been seeing strong demand, and websites selling second-hand wedding gowns and others luxury items have gained in popularity in recent years. Selling used as well as new items on the same website, however, remains rare.
- Co-op extends used gear digital platform to get more people outside – REI
- REI Used
- REI’s Used Gear Site Is Getting Bigger – Outside Magazine
- REI lifts the sustainability bar – RetailWire
- The North Face Launches “Renewed” to Keep Apparel in Use Longer – The North Face
- Worn Wear – Patagonia
Discussion questions: Will selling “high-quality, lightly used product at lower price points” likely impact REI’s sale of full-price items and overall margins? Do you see opportunities for REI to provide greater value to consumers and supporting sustainability goals through REI Used?