PORTLAND, Ore. — The REI store in Portland's Pearl District will close at the end of February 2024, the company announced on Monday.
In a letter to REI members, the company cited concerns over safety and an increase in crime over the last few years as reasons for the closure.
"The safety of our employees, members and customers is always our number one priority. In recent years, Portland has been dealing with increased crime in our neighborhood and beyond. Last year, REI Portland had its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite actions to provide extra security," REI said in its letter.
REI also added that they have "outgrown" their store near Northwest Johnson Street and Northwest 14th Avenue and "are not able to provide the level of customer and employee experience we strive for at REI." The company said their lease is up at the end of February next year, which is when the location will close.
In November 2022, someone used a car to break the front door of the store and steal clothing before leaving the scene.
The Pearl District location is the only REI store in Portland. REI has other locations around the Portland metro area that will remain open including stores in Tualatin, Hillsboro and Clackamas.
REI said they are evaluating opportunities for new locations, but do not believe a downtown Portland location is a possibility in the near future.
KGW reached out to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's office for comment. Cody Bowman, a spokesperson for Wheeler, said the mayor's staff and Portland Police Bureau leadership met with REI's leadership team for months to address the theft and vandalism.
"The Portland Police Bureau and other public safety partners worked with REI directly to execute a retail theft mission at their Pearl location and developed proactive safety measures, including authorizing temporary security camera trailers at their loading dock and protective measures toward the front of their store," Bowman said.
He added that the city of Portland's Street Services Coordination Center has worked to clean up areas near the store.
"Mayor Wheeler is committed to further supporting REI to help ensure we retain their business in Portland and help them succeed. All options are on the table as we explore paths forward," Bowman said.
The news came as a surprise to many shoppers. It also brought to mind other recent business closures in downtown's core.
“I think that we have our job cut out in front of us,” said Thomas Gillpatrick, a professor of marketing at Portland State University.
Gillpatrick said when people invest in new retail opportunities, they do an enormous amount of research into an area, first. He believes closures like the one REI is planning will factor into that research.
“You're really betting on the future when you invest into a retail store so this is really sending a message to all of us in Portland; that is, Portland looks not as attractive as we have been in the past.”
Stream newscasts for free on KGW+ on Roku and Amazon Fire: How to add app to your device here
See a typo in this article? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for corrections