It has come to our attention through multiple sources in the community – through the City, business, and non-profit contacts – that REI’s College Park location is planning to close in the coming year. REI is opening a new store near Union Station in Washington, DC and is expanding the size of its Rockville store, and with its lease coming to an end in College Park, they decided not to renew it in light of its other regional investments. Those of us who live and work in College Park, however, know that REI’s locations in Rockville, Washington, or Columbia, Maryland – while in our region – are not where most of us spend our time. In addition, just as College Park is experiencing a surge of investment and redevelopment, it seems like the wrong time for REI to exit our market. Perhaps they do not know our local market that well.
It is our job to educate REI and to appeal to them to stay in College Park. It would be a real loss for College Park, and certainly a bad decision for REI, to leave just as so much is taking off here.
Below is a sample message. Please feel free to add a personal note to the sample when you write to REI. You can send them a message through their website (please note your REI Membership if you are a member) at: https://www.rei.com/help/feedback/service.html
You can also call them on their feedback line at: 1-800-426-4840
We’re also working with a group of residents to launch an online petition asking REI to stay in College Park. Once it’s ready, I’ll send you all the link, so that you can sign up. Thank you all for your help. Please spread this around, as not everyone is on this list serve. Thank you!
I understand that REI is considering closing its College Park store. As a customer [NOTE REI Membership, if applicable] and local resident, I am writing to let you know that REI has been a stable and valued retailer in the College Park community for many years. It is a great fit in our diverse, environmentally-focused, health-conscious, university community. The College Park area is abuzz with no less than six local farmers markets, a rich network of bicycle trails, two Metro rail stations, and a Big Ten, major research university with an on-campus daytime population of 50,000.
When few retailers were locating in College Park, REI led the way. Now, College Park is undergoing a significant transformation – major redevelopment is occurring in College Park both on and off campus, with seven mixed-use residential projects in the pipeline, and several hotel projects totaling 525 rooms and a major conference facility. On campus, four state-of-the-art research and academic buildings are under construction, including those in computer sciences, engineering, health and human performance, and teaching and learning. Taken together, on campus and off, these represent $1 billion of redevelopment underway in College Park. Beyond these, but on the near horizon, College Park will be home to a new innovation district – which will teem with employment in new start-ups that are being created every year through university research. The University System of Maryland recently invested $25 million toward assisting start-up ventures.
While REI is investing in its Rockville store and a new store in Washington, DC, those of us living and working in College Park are just as likely to travel to outdoor retailers in Annapolis or other areas of the region as we are to trek to those locations or to the Columbia, Maryland REI. We have been proud, loyal customers of REI College Park and respectfully ask that you continue to keep REI operating in College Park.
(Your name and address)