BY CHARLES ROCHA
After a $50-million dollar renovation project, the Washington Coliseum is ready to be an REI flagship store. This innovative store is meant to be an experience which offers more than just Recreational Equipment Inc.‘s core store, featuring brands you wont find at any other market place. There will be a ‘Adventure Station’, which runs in conjunction with the National Park Service. The Adventure Station is meant help you think of fun things to do outside and in the area. The building will also boast a full service bike shop and ski shop, a full shoe department, a camping department and a Patagonia.
The area is 51,000 square feet and will house 124 part-time employees, or ‘inspired guides’ as we are told they are to be called. This square footage is in addition to The Courtyard, an open-air lounge area with picnic tables and a fire pit. For your caffeine needs there will be a La Colombe Café accessible from both inside and outside of the store. Along with and similar to the ‘Adventure Station’, the retail store plans to host classes and other inexpensive events to bring attention to community opportunities.
REI chose the venue where The Beatles had their first show (February, 1961) because of their love for older venues. A handful of their establishments are now in older buildings, and they are using that revitalization as their new hallmark. You will be able to spot tiny tidbits of the venue's past throughout the store such as original columns and stadium seats. Reproductions of posters from concerts held in the building will also line the walls.
The company is a Co-Op, which means it is owned by it's members. While you don’t have to be a member to shop there, membership would let you in on discounts and sales. For the Grand opening this coming weekend, the store is hosting events with Music, Food trucks and other vendors as a celebration. REI plans to serve breakfast and coffee in the morning, and the first 500 people in line will get a Camelbak bottle and gift cards.