After revealing plans to open a 52,000-square-foot flagship store in NoMa’s Uline building, the outdoor gear chain REI was ready to make friends with its soon-to-be neighbors.
At a reception in Union Market’s Bidwell restaurant last night, REI executives, corporate employees, and store members mingled with local small business leaders and environmental nonprofit representatives. The chain’s purpose was to gather suggestions for features to incorporate into the new store’s design and operation plans that could engage the DC community.
Naturally the event had a splashy PR sheen to it, with almost everyone in attendance singing REI’s praises.
“They’re actually inviting the community to make decisions in the buildout process,” said Miles Gray, owner of Brookland’s Smith Public Trust. “As opposed to what most brands do, which is, typically, come into a town and force upon a town whatever their ideas are.”