This week, REI reaffirmed its commitment to repurposing lightly used gear with an updated used gear website. Stocked with new brands and even more product categories, the website will be backed by a dedicated team of employees and complimented by a series of member-to-member gear swaps.
“At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived, but we know that the cost of brand-new gear can be a barrier to access,” Peter Whitcomb, REI’s director of strategy and leader of the co-op’s used gear efforts. “We launched Used Gear Beta online last year with the belief that we could help get more people outside by finding new homes for pre-loved gear and apparel.”
On average, products from the used gear website can be purchased for up to 65 percent less than buying the same products new. According to REI, the most popular products are midweight down and synthetic jackets and the most popular category is women’s apparel.
“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,” says Whitcomb.
For years, the co-op has sold lightly used product (returned under its 100 percent satisfaction guarantee policy) at in-store Garage Sales. REI’s garage sales regularly draw huge crowds but are limited to members who live near physical REI stores. Likewise, the product selection at any individual sale is largely determined by what has been returned to that store. Making that gear available online, as well as in-store, helps get affordable, niche product in the hands of the customers who want it, and keeps quality products out of landfills.
“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,” says Greg Gausewitz, REI’s manager of product sustainability.