Outdoor outfitter REI is going all in on selling used gear. The outfitter launched a pilot site in October 2017, selling gently used returned products. The items may need cleaning, but not repair. The site mirrored what the retailer called Garage Sales at their bricks and mortar stores. The events were wildly popular but limited to customers who lived near the physical REI stores.
REI sells their used gear for up to 65 percent off the original price for new goods. The used site was launched last October to test the waters of used sales after it found that many people don’t purchase outdoor gear because of the price. The used site meets the needs of cost-conscious outdoor enthusiasts, while also addressing sustainability issues.
The promise of cheaper high-quality gear drew more customers than REI anticipated. Peter Whitcomb, REI’s director of strategy and lead on the Used Gear project, says that the brand surpassed its sales benchmark and said: “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.”
The updated site features a search function, member-to-member gear swaps, and additional brands and categories.
REI is following in the footsteps of North Face, which launched a pilot program in June selling “renewed” items, and Patagonia which launched a site last fall that lets customers buy, sell and trade used Patagonia merch.
The REI program will encourage users to visit the site more often to find ‘treasures’ while aiding discovery and encouraging impulse and upgrade buys – all while meeting the brand initiative of responsible retail sustainability.