REI will leave Portland, taking its full-service bike shop with them

Corner of NW 14th and Johnson. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Large outdoor retailer REI announced yesterday it would close its location in northwest Portland. The announcement comes amid a spate of similar statements from major downtown businesses and adds to growing concern about what it all means for the future of our city.

While I believe that as our city goes, so goes cycling, I typically wouldn’t share news like this on the Front Page. But REI hits different because the full service bike shop inside the store is an important source of gear and equipment for cycling in a location that many of us can still bike and take transit to. When the first BikePortland reader forwarded me the news yesterday, they wrote, “Regrettable that REI will close the one store that was easily accessible on foot, by bike or public transportation and reducing it to the car-centric locations.”

REI’s store in the Pearl District was on NW Johnson (and 14th), a major east-west cycling street that the City of Portland has established as a key neighborhood greenway in recent years. The store’s closure (due early 2024) also means their large selection of bikes and accessories, as well as their well-reputed and professional bike service and maintenance department will also close.

In a statement about the closure (right), REI said the “safety of our employees” and “increase crime” were partly to blame for their decision. In 2022, the store said they had their highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades. But they also said they have “outgrown this location,” so it’s not clear what has really fueled their decision.

And what’s not in the REI statement is a long-simmering battle with employees over everything from Covid policies, sick days, and efforts by workers to unionize. BikePortland has been contacted by several people who are suspicious about the timing of REI’s announcement and say it might be part of an effort to prevent union momentum.

A workers-rights movement among REI workers started at this same store in 2015 when a group called REI Employees for Real Change began to agitate online. According to one source we’ve heard from, workers at the Pearl District store have been organizing on-and-off for several years.

In January 2022, an opinion columnist for the Washington Post called REI “anti-union” and two months later an REI store in Manhattan voted 88-14 to support a union. And on the same day REI announced their Portland closure plans, news broke that the Eugene location has filed a petition to vote on a union.

Other reasons noted in local reporting include disagreements with their landlord and the fact that REI’s current lease terminates in February 2024.

Regardless of the rationale for their decision, losing the northwest REI location is a blow to Portland. And even without any worker issues, REI is just one of many large retailers that have recently waved goodbye to our city.

Given that REI said they’ll stay open until early next year, perhaps there’s a chance to reconsider if other factors change.

If REI and their bike shop are gone by next year, it will leave us with the following shops nearby: Fat Tire Farm (2714 NW Thurman St), Cycle Portland (180 NW 3rd Ave), and West End Bikes (1111 SW Washington St).

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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jakeco969
jakeco969
1 year ago

It’s this eagerness to try to find some other problem to blame the closure on that is becoming difficult to accept. I understand that there might be hidden concerns that the evil corporation is trying to hide and they should definitely be mentioned. They have had as you say long simmering problems so nothing that they weren’t used too and they have been in that space for 20 years so not likely they all of a sudden got too big. Maybe the obvious answer is the the answer and they simply got tired of looters driving cars through their windows and the severe uptick in crime all around them. When there are safety concerns about employees and customers getting to the store, maybe they really are just worried about safety?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  jakeco969

We can’t admit that our local policies don’t work not admit that the hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at it are wasted.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 year ago

And don’t forget, many a government employee and workers at dozens and dozens of non-profits that rely on there to be no real solutions offered up. The longer the misery lasts the longer they can milk the tax payer gravy train.

Centrist
Centrist
1 year ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

It’s like the healthcare industry. If we truly fix healthcare by going to Medicare for all, then millions of folks working in healthcare will lose their jobs.

JEREMY MOORE
JEREMY MOORE
1 year ago
Reply to  Centrist

Sorry but the middlemen are stealing money. They’re the only ones that’ll be losing their jobs.

Ray
Ray
1 year ago
Reply to  Centrist

I will shed a total of 0 tears for pharma reps, profiteering medical administrators, or insurance executives.

Mathew
Mathew
1 year ago
Reply to  Centrist

good

J_R
J_R
1 year ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I’m not sure I buy into the suggestion that REI is an “evil corporation.” I’m reasonably sure it is organized as a corporation, but 10 of the 13 board members are required to be elected from the membership. It’s certainly easier to become a board member of REI than most other corporations. Any member who has an idea of how to govern can put his/her/their name up for consideration. More details of the governance structure can be found on the REI website.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 year ago
Reply to  J_R

I apologize! I do my best to avoid sarcasm here in the comments, but the anti corporation themes of the initial story were too much for me. I agree with you that they are not evil.

SkepticalCoyote
SkepticalCoyote
1 year ago
Reply to  J_R

The op beat me to it, but I was about to point out that “evil corp” was likely sarcastic. I didn’t realize that their board is seemingly so open though! That’s something cool that I learned today.

J_R
J_R
1 year ago

I’ve been an REI member so long I have a five-digit membership number. I sometimes use the Portland store, but I live in SE Portland and usually use the Clackamas store, which I can get to by bike. Fortunately the 205 path south of the Springwater feels safe.

I hate to see the Pearl District store closing. I think the end of the lease and the safety/burglary/ theft issues contributed. I hope they find a new spot somewhere within the Portland city limits, but I’m not optimistic. Heck, I even considering whether I will stay a Portland resident.

At least there are other good options for bike services and accessories in downtown including West End Bikes.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago

It’s a bummer, but I just am a bit skeptical on the reasoning and have a lot of questions. Are there well-corroborated stories of employees feeling unsafe? Like the area around that REI seems fairly safe and nice to me, definitely more safe and relaxing to go to than Next Adventure on Stark/Grand.

Highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, how many is that? It’s 10 in 2022 – according to a manager’s quote in the Oregonian. But I don’t see any detail on what any of that actually means. Like what differentiates a burglary and a shoplifter? What was the total $ amount of merchandise lost? I think this is relevant because this REI is always like annoyingly busy. They get tons of people in there, and I’ve often had to wait like 10 to 15 minutes in the check out line.

“The company added that it has “outgrown” the Pearl District store and that the building needed “significant investment” to address unspecified “issues.”” (also from that Oregonian article). I really have a hard time believing that there is some significant investment in that building that would outweigh the cost of a new retail location in a comparable part of the city. It’s a really pretty nice building, and the space is quite good there. The fact that they didn’t specify any actual issues (regarding outgrowing) is a bit fishy to me.

Dwk
Dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

You think they are always busy, make lots of money but this corporation would rather spite you and the residents of Portland and close up just to make a point about local crime?
OK.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

No, I am of the opinion that they are probably closing to break some nascent labor organization among the workers and that crime is just the excuse that sticks in people’s mind.

If they said “oh we lost $800,000 on excess security this year, $500,000 in merchandise, and $2 million in increased insurance rates and we ended up losing $250k this year. And we expect this to get worse in the next few years due to political inaction and a bad mayor.” I’d be more likely to believe their lines. But when they say “oh we have safety concerns for our workers” – then don’t quote any workers having those concern – or when they say the building needs “significant investment” due to “issues” I think it’s fair to be skeptical of their reasoning as a whole.

Do I believe that management would close a store to spite me and the residents of Portland? No.

Do I believe that management would close a store to kill a labor movement before it starts? Yes.

dwk
dwk
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Yes, busy profitable stores close all the time because of possible union activity which has been going on for 8 years.
Nike closed its store on MLK because it was too busy and making too much money also.

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  dwk

Yes, busy profitable stores close all the time because of possible union activity

Companies literally do this, so I don’t know what you want me to say here.

I’m not really even convinced union organization is a primary reason to close the store. I’d believe crime/theft to be a bigger factor if they gave more convincing reasoning behind it. Same for worker safety – I’m frankly not interested in what managment has to say for worker safety as a matter of principle. If BikePortland, the Oregonian, the WW, or any other local media is interviewing actual workers at REI on how safe they feel at work I’d take it more seriously.

Anyways – I just want to say that it’s a distinct possibility, but if you only ever read what REI management has to say about it there is no way you will ever know the truth one way or another.

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

No, I am of the opinion that they are probably closing to break some nascent labor organization among the workers and that crime is just the excuse that sticks in people’s mind.

I’m not really even convinced union organization is a primary reason to close the store. 

Perfect, clear as mud.

Seeing what they have done to try and make that location work, I would almost applaud them if the labor organizing was the nail in the coffin. They are a co-op, but they aren’t a non-profit and I am glad they are attempting to not operate as one. They have been a top 100 places to work for 20 years and provide a host of benefits on top of what appears to be competitive pay, hard to take the formation of a union seriously in a company like that. Of course, rock climbing as a hobby is hard, but not as hard as stocking carabiners in a climate controlled store.

Wayne
Wayne
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

So if it’s such a great location, open your own outdoors store there after they vacate.

Damien
Damien
1 year ago
Reply to  Dwk

You think they are always busy, make lots of money but this corporation would rather spite you and the residents of Portland…

Perhaps not them, but (even just potential) labor unions? Well, that’s a well established business practice.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

“…that would outweigh the cost of a new retail location in a comparable part of the city.”

Why do you think they would want to relocate to another part of the city? The city was already not helping them with safety in the past, is not helping them now, why do you think the city would help in the future if they changed location?

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Well I would think that REI still thinks Portland is (theoretically) a good place for an outdoors store. I imagine if we get some better leadership in city hall willing to grant things like steel bollards to prevent smash-n-grabs, they would be happy to have a store in Slabtown or something. It seems a little short sighted to ditch Portland altogether, though I obviously am just some guy.

I live in the silly world of believing that Portland is still a pretty good city, and that some day in the future we will have leadership that is better than whatever we have now. Call me naive, or stupid, but we can only have so many consecutive years of bad city leadership before we accidentally elect someone good

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

100% agree that Portland is theoretically a good place for an outdoor store!

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I’ve been in Portland for a long time now, 30+ years, and the last decent (not perfect, no one is) mayor was Katz. She actually accomplished things and didn’t put up with non-sense.

All, since then, have been complete underperformers and wishy washy. The last couple of mayors have had tons of money, 100s of millions, at their disposal and what actual dent in the many city problems have been made? Doesn’t help when the Major and DA declare its open season for criminal activity as they aren’t going to do anything about it.

Seems like the mayors are more interested in making their buddies rich, from construction companies to non-profits.
Yes, the way things are going, it would have to be a definite accident to get a decent mayor again the way people are voting.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I’vre read elsewhere that they have $3k daily lost through theft.

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

I thought victim shaming was a faux paux in 21st century progressive ideology?

Since we’re all speculating, it sounds like they had a 20 year triple net lease on the building. Since then, the city has placed multiple additional taxes on businesses of their size and you can’t say they didn’t try to fix the issues causing theft. Additionally, again speculation, they likely have made multiple claims to their property insurance in the last couple years. Not sure if you’ve gotten a quote for property insurance in an urban setting lately, but prices have increased exponentially in the last 3 years. I am sure the cost/benefit analysis compared to same store profits in OR make it pointless to engage in a new lease with the owner.

Counterpoint, this is all posturing to get the building owner to complete some tenant improvements and renegotiate the lease to something more reflective of what downtown is now. Can’t imagine trying to lease it to another use.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  PS

REI is large enough that they would have to pay the 1% Portland Clean Energy Fund, right? Remove your only Portland location, and they avoid that completely.

Boyrd
Boyrd
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

They pay sales tax that is multiples of the 1% gross receipts tax in every other state in which they operate? The 1% pcef tax is table stakes.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Boyrd

Growing up in Oregon, I might be a bit ignorant as to sales taxes… but whenever I buy retail items in Washington, the sales tax is added on top of the retail price, so I pay it. Is there another tax that the retailer pays on top of the retail price?

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  Boyrd

All the taxes are probably table stakes in isolation, but that’s the error here, nothing in isolation is causing them to leave, but all the issues in aggregate and it makes total sense.

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yes, and they pay a gross receipts tax to Portland of around 2.6% and 2% to Multnomah County then the 1% you mention and probably some more that isn’t inconsequential.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago
Reply to  blumdrew

As a former private investigator, I would venture that REI has at least 10 shoplifts per day. That includes employee theft, which is just as big an issue at many retail establishments. I once worked with a ‘major’ bike shop in Oregon about ‘leakage’ and discovered that a long-time employee had been stealing and re-selling product for years. I confronted him, he admitted it; he was let go…not fired, just allowed to disappear from the scene.

Bstedman
Bstedman
1 year ago

The tragic irony of an outdoor recreation store closing the one store in the Metro area that is easily accessible by foot, bike and public transportation, leaving only car centric locations in the suburbs. I also don’t quite buy the “outgrown our location” comment, since the Tigard and Hillsboro locations don’t seem to have more square footage (I’m not familiar with the one in Gresham).
if they use crime as an excuse to avoid unionizing they would follow the example of stores like Starbucks who tried similar cover ups.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
1 year ago
Reply to  Bstedman

I live in Gresham. If there’s an REI here, it’s got an invisibility cloak.

PTB
PTB
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

REI stopped selling those quite a few years back, but maybe they’ve got some old stock they’re using.

joey Campbell
joey Campbell
1 year ago
Reply to  Bstedman

Well there still one out door store in city accessible by bike and bus: Foster Outdoor in Foster-Powell neighborhood. Mom and pop owned and pretty awesome. Not much for bikes but if 10% of REIs customer shift bet they could swing it in the future!

grrlpup
grrlpup
1 year ago
Reply to  joey Campbell

I love them! Very happy with their camping/hiking gear, plus they have used stuff (including raingear and winter gear) upstairs. A good destination to take the hard-won Foster bike lane to. 😀

Laura
Laura
1 year ago
Reply to  joey Campbell

Foster Ourdoor is a great shop, with decades of experience in the industry (outside of bikes). I shifted much of my REI spending to them in the past 3 years, because they are closer, bike-able, and just so nice.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  joey Campbell

Next Adventure, US Outdoor Store, EVO, and the REI location at Clackamas TC are all bike/transit accessible.

Boyrd
Boyrd
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris I

US outdoor is also out of business

PS
PS
1 year ago
Reply to  Bstedman

Tigard location is very accessible by bike from either side of I-5 and North or South of Boones Ferry Rd. Literally bike lanes all over the place. The walk between the REI in Bridgeport and the Whole Foods is also far more enjoyable than the walk between REI and Whole Foods in the Pearl.

Bstedman
Bstedman
1 year ago
Reply to  PS

The problem is I would have to get there from SW Portland. It is double the distance from the NW store (10 miles vs 5) and would take me on some sketchy stretches of road without bikelanes. So there migh5 be bikelanes right around it, but it’s not a high density population area like the Pearls District.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

Hmm, I’m sure having a recognizably large brand leave the downtown area will be a blow in someways, but as they say they have out grown the space. I read this, not so generously I admit, as “we want to be an all-encompassing box store, and we don’t have the sq feet to accomplish this downtown” I look at the mega-plex they have in Denver, and I don’t think I’ll miss them here in the long run. I would love to see the space taken by some one local that can fill the needs of the community, but we’ll have to wait and see. Unitl then Fat Tire and Trek are nearby and River City and Evo are just over the river. Any thoughts on Cicra and West End? I know that Fat Tire has had a lot of security issues, I would hate to lose them.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 year ago

And when they leave due to safety concerns, we’ll make sure to ask whether it was about unions.

Pockets the Coyote
Pockets the Coyote
1 year ago

I sure had a lot to say about unions.
Anyways, Colorado shops in Denver and along the Front Range, had a string of bike shops targeted and burgled by organized criminals, also driving a truck or van through the walls and windows of a business. Given the apparent regularity of break-ins at FTF, and style of at least one theft, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was something larger at work than just some impromptu thieves, but they’re certainly not original. I do not know that there has been any transparency regarding how these break-ins have been handled, meanwhile a manager has publicly expressed frustration.

Caleb
Caleb
1 year ago

By “they” I assume you referred to Pockets’ suggestion of “some one local that can fill the needs of the community”. If so, your comment is rather misplaced given they referred to no specific entity, let alone one with any record regarding unions, and meanwhile REI has pushed back on unionizing efforts, as this BRAIN article explains.

Lazy Spinner
Lazy Spinner
1 year ago

What a sad turn of events and another sign that this once wonderful city is failing.

Paige
Paige
1 year ago

Really too bad! When I worked in the Pearl, they were extremely convenient for the summer I got a flat tire every other week. The other shops are all great, but a bit of a hike from the Pearl – REI is so conveniently located for what I consider to be the heart of the area. I hope that if the store does close, an independent shop opens in the same area. If the closure is an anti-union move, shame on REI. If the closure is about the city not ponying up for some bollards, shame on the city.

Watts
Watts
1 year ago
Reply to  Paige

The union theory seems unlikely. There has been talk of unionization since 2015 with no apparent progress. The Manhattan store unionized in 2022 and the Eugene store was making a run at it… so let’s close our Portland store?

The most logical explanation is also the most straightforward: the lease was up, the space wasn’t ideal, and the rather dramatic break-ins pushed them past the tipping point.

I am really bummed about this decision. It has been a great resource to me as well and I see this as a big blow to the city.

axoplasm
axoplasm
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

the space wasn’t ideal

Oh this so much. This was & probably still is one of REI’s best-performing locations in terms of sales. But it isn’t right for The New Reality.

Post-2020 people are outdoorsier than ever but the way they (we) do it is “buy online, pick up at the store.” This works great in Clackamas but stinks downtown, especially at this location. Try to load a kayak onto your car in that garage. Yes there’s a loading dock but that’s one-customer-at-a-time, and it’s on the street (so an employee has to attend it when the door is up). REI could configure a new space with better pickup in (for example) the industrial eastside or the slabtown blocks, cheaper than they could re-configure this one. With the lease up next year…seems obvious to me

I don’t doubt the other factors — unionization, safety, crime — are contributors but this seems the most obvious, and they hint as much in their press release (“outgrown this location”).

Will
Will
1 year ago
Reply to  Watts

“REI has also seen an uptick in union activity in recent years, with four more stores — including the Eugene location — filing petitions for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board this month. Just three of the co-op’s 181 stores are unionized.

Chesley Lindsey served as a department lead in the action sports department at the Portland REI store until early November 2022. She says she was actively involved in efforts to unionize the store, and shortly before she left, workers at the store were very close to a vote.

Chesley notes that smaller stores seem to have had more success in their union drives, because it’s easier to form relationships.

“Spokane and Eugene just voted to unionize so it just feels like they’re trying to disband everybody,” Lindsey says.

A current employee of the Portland store who spoke to OB on condition of anonymity says there has been a continued push for unionization in recent months. The store cut several full-time employees’ hours in early winter, with management telling employees the cuts happened due to an accounting error: the company had overestimated the store’s operating budget and was forced to make cuts when revenue fell short of what had been projected.

“When the hour cut happened for everyone, REI was really slow to give out resources, like telling people how to file for partial unemployment. Eventually management decided to put a food pantry in the office because people were coming to work hungry,” the employee says.

Multiple sources tell OB that in contradiction to its public statement that all Portland workers will be offered the option of transferring to a different store, current employees of the Pearl store are being asked to re-apply through the same process offered to outside employees.

“I was shocked. That’s not how REI is supposed to work,” one employee says.”

Gasper Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  Will

Bajeebus, that’s terrible. Thanks for sharing, Will.

Mitch
Mitch
1 year ago

It seems the Happy Valley location is only roughly 1 mile further for me to bike to from Vancouver, so I guess that’s cool… Too bad the i205 MUP is in such a sorry state. I’ve only ridden as far as Mt. Tabor once, I’d be more than willing to bike to this REI, still might, who knows. Maybe REI will open a Vancouver location.

The union situation is interesting.

squareman
squareman
1 year ago

This makes me very sad. I bought my first “real” commuter through REI (a Novarra with a dyno hub and IGH, fenders, and roller brakes).

Fuzzy Blue Line
Fuzzy Blue Line
1 year ago

There’s some irony in the comments section on those accusing REI of covering up an anti-union stance with their closure announcement. Never mind the fact we all know the downtown business climate and crime rates are terrible right now.

Over on WW they were pointing out that both REI and Nike had recent meetings with the mayor’s office asking for approval of reasonable improvements to deter theft and vandalism to keep both the Nike MLK store and the REI Pearl store open. Both businesses were willing to pay for bollards to deter stolen vehicles being rammed through windows after hours which has happened before. Nike even was willing to pay for additional PPB presence. They were turned down by the city. Go figure!

blumdrew
blumdrew
1 year ago

I think it can be both. I think people can rightfully be skeptical about union busting at REI maybe playing a role, while being critical of the city leadership for laying down and playing dead every time anything at all is asked of them.

It’s absolutely ridiculous that they mayor’s office would say no to bollards. Inexcusable really. Ted Wheeler will no doubt go down as one of the worst mayor’s in Portland’s history.

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
1 year ago

The city and county governance are absolutely impotent and ignorant.

Jenni S
Jenni S
1 year ago

Remember it’s the voters that got what we got. In the end our politicians are just reflecting the voting populace.
A recent small shift here in voting patterns with Gonzalez getting elected but we still just voted in Jessica Vega Pederson (a clone of Kafoury). Votes matter.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 year ago
Reply to  Jenni S

I’d vote for a clone (well near clone) of Katz in a heart beat.

Jerry G
Jerry G
1 year ago

Seeing Portland fall into the state of disrepair and crime we now have has been disappointing. Sadly I would never consider opening a business downtown given its state. And even more sad is that I can’t see anything changing anytime soon. I moved away from Portland a few months ago. Do I miss the Portland of 20 years ago? Yes. Do I miss the Portland I left? No.

Adam
Adam
1 year ago

I remember going to that stores grand opening event. Quite a bit has changed since then besides just crime. E-commerce means fewer store visits are necessary, and people working from home don’t flock downtown everyday going shopping on their lunch break. Furthermore many companies are preparing for a possible recession. The end of a lease is always the time to consider where to place your bets.
Isn’t the Trek Store (formerly Bike Gallery) at SW 10th and Salmon still a nearby option?

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

The Pearl store had tens of millions in sales every year. Roughly double the Clackamas TC location. It wasn’t a lack of sales that lead to this decision.

Preparing for the recession is a decent theory, though. If you were REI looking at the Portland Metro and you wanted to close one store, why not go for the one with the most expensive lease (set to expire next year), the highest losses from theft and vandalism, and the most safety concerns? This makes sense. A lot of money has moved out of downtown in the past three years, and there is no sign of the trend reversing.

axoplasm
axoplasm
1 year ago
Reply to  Adam

I doubt foot traffic was actually much of a factor in this location. Crime and safety might be, as could unionization, why not? My guess is that it’s just an especially lousy location for picking up online purchases, and with the lease ending next year…

steve
steve
1 year ago

downtown portland has been dysfunctional for years, starting about the time that pot was legalized, just too many sociopaths, causing too many problems

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 year ago
Reply to  steve

Interesting that both legalization of drugs and COVID did a number on Portland. COVID is pretty much over, so that leaves drugs. Hmmm . . . wonder what could it be?
I don’t know, maybe we should form a committee of elite citizens to figure it out and take a few years. /s

Granpa
Granpa
1 year ago
Reply to  steve

In reality pot has been effectively legal for as long as Voodoo Donuts have existed. The legalization of hard drugs is another matter. Opioids can be taken and managed for a long time for persons of means, but the people taking them in Portland do not have money. Meth literally makes people insane. Both opioid addiction and drug induced insanity make people unemployable and frequently criminal. Measure 110 has had profoundly negative impacts on Portland. We need to use our criminal justice system on criminals. If that means homeless people who commit crimes get arrested, well maybe that could be a catalyst towards their getting their shit together. Ignoring the overlap between homelessness and crime is willful ignorance

Jenni S
Jenni S
1 year ago

City of Portland talks the big talk about fighting climate change but I for one don’t see it. Now we have to schlep to the suburbs to go shopping (Walmart yesterday, REI today….what’s next Fred Meyer? ) What a mess this city has become.

Todd/Boulanger
1 year ago

My family was just in REI over the weekend (after a long hiatus) and was surprised at the exterior window plexi [bullet proof?] reinforcing. Though more disturbing for my partner was being followed around by multiple staff and black masked security officers as she lightly shopped. It did not make her want to return.

AS a long time REI member…it will be missed in the Pearl, as the other branches are too far from North Portland (the old Jansen Beach site was more convenient).

BUT Portlandś REI customers are better positioned to survive [and thrive] its planned departure given the deep retail options for most bike and outdoor gear versus a similarly sized city. My long time fear is that this may take the shine off of Portland as a commercial retail [and design] center for outdoor gear.

EP
EP
1 year ago

I stopped shopping at REI years ago. Just wasn’t drinking the adult outdoor toy store Kool-Aid they were always pushing. It was a convenient location when I worked in NW, but that’s about it. I really disliked the constant petition-wielding volunteers by the bike racks. REI has grown a ton and has a lot of other stores around Portland, I kinda get why they’d leave. I’m sure they’ll still do fine with PDX e-commerce deliveries.

I’ve been heading to Next Adventure and their bargain basement for years, and the nearby Evo shop is pretty slick. I’ll have to check out Foster Outdoor. I like stores that sell lower-cost options, used gear, and other random stuff. NA is way more “portland weird” than Evo or REI.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that space.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 year ago
Reply to  EP

A McDonald’s, of course.

Laura
Laura
1 year ago

Back in the ’90’s REI had stores at Jantzen Beach and in Tualatin. The JB store capitalized on Clark Co tax refugees. The MAX Red Line was being conceptualized as a Public-Private partnership, and the Cascade Station property was pitched as a retail development site for Portlanders and WA shoppers. REI wanted to be an anchor there (easy access to 205 from WA and the bike path, other supportive retail). There was a bidding war, and REI went to the Pearl. I bet their leadership regrets that choice now. Cascade is transit accessible, bike-able and “safe” for Clark County folks.

todd/boulanger
todd/boulanger
11 months ago
Reply to  Laura

Yes Cascade is transit bike accessible, but its an inverse retail black hole…safe but mall bland. (Just was there on Monday…family business dragged me to IKEA on the way out of town via PDX.) Perhaps a mini IKEA will move to REIs Pearl space as a more bikeable urbane site…just as we discussed with COP staff/ council during our 2005 study visit to Amsterdam.)

John L
John L
1 year ago

I wonder if the 1% (of sales) city climate change tax on their sales in Portland is a factor.

REI’s overall pretax margin (pretax income / gross sales) is only 3.5%, so losing 1% of gross sales to a city tax is a big impact.

Add the Portland business tax (2.6% of pretax income), the MultCo business tax (2.0% of pretax), and the MultCo housing tax (1.0% of pretax), the high security and theft costs in Portland, and whatever issues REI was having with the building/rents, and perhaps the case for staying open in Portland became too weak.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  John L

This was my suspicion as well. By closing this single store, they avoid the PCEF tax completely. And of course, REI wouldn’t cite that as a factor in the closing, because they want to be seen as a “green” business.

Jenni S
Jenni S
1 year ago
Reply to  John L

Maybe IF the PCEF funds actually went to helping the local environment instead of a slush fund for unaccountable, ineffective and unrelated projects (over $1 million went to give the homeless newspaper Street Roots a new office) REI might have been less worried about their tax burden?

Atreus
Atreus
1 year ago

Huge bummer. Not only is REI great for clothing and outdoor gear, but their bike shop was really good. It’s been my main bike shop for about five years now, ever since I discovered their incredibly quick turnaround times (basically always takes two days, even for walk-ins) for service, and the fact that all your bike shop work generates dividends for members. And their techs are really good, the head bike shop guy is an old-timer named Bruce who really knows his stuff. I hope they all find work at bike shops around time, or maybe band together to open a new one!

JF
JF
1 year ago

Portland is a city so terrified of upsetting anyone that it ends up upsetting everyone.

Dave
Dave
1 year ago

No mention of their getting jackedby their landlord once the lease is up? Not all criminals throw bricks through windows.

Chris I
Chris I
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave

Given the massive amounts of empty retail space in Portland, I can’t imagine the landlord has much leverage. If they were the primary driver, due to increased lease rates, they apparently just made a massive miscalculation, and will now get no money from the space for many years to come.

steve scarich
steve scarich
1 year ago

Announcing a business closure nearly a year prior to closing smells like a bit of a bargaining tactic, either with the landlord, the City, or the union organizers. Generally speaking, businesses try to wait until the last legal deadline to notify their employees, because the day they make the announcement is the day that their employees start looking for another job.

Gasper Johnson
11 months ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Agreed. Very suspect timing.

Mathew
Mathew
1 year ago

good riddance

Gasper Johnson
11 months ago

I wonder how many of the folks claiming to know it wasn’t related to unions are aware of how common this kind of PR spin is.

The same folks upset about shoplifting would loose their minds if they knew how much more common wage theft is.

CDD
CDD
11 months ago

Sadly I believe the future of retail will be access by membership card only (like Cosco) to a showroom situation with no purchase option. And / or home delivery, or delivery afterwards to a locked box outside. All that salary $ will be saved on no customer interaction, less floor space, and less (or no employees). Think a mini-fulfillment center every 2 or 3 blocks where now there is a medium-size store. TheNewNormal?