REI CEO Sends Letter of Reflection to Customers and Champions the ‘Power of Community’

With the year coming to an end, REI Co-op exec Eric Artz sent a letter of reflection to the retailer’s community of outdoor enthusiasts.

The company’s CEO and president noted in the letter that was emailed to consumers yesterday that although 2020 had its share of hardships, it was also one of “profound clarity, focus and learning.”

“We’re a community built around a shared love of the outdoors, and this year reminded us time and again of what matters most,” Artz wrote. “We have inspired, welcomed and helped enable more people, many for the first time, to enjoy the benefits of a walk around the neighborhood, a bike ride, a paddle or a night beneath the stars. And, thanks to all of you, this is a part of the legacy of 2020.”

In the letter, Artz mentioned some of the actions the retailer took during an unprecedented pandemic to ensure its consumers were safe, such as contactless curbside pickup and virtual outfitting. Also, he highlighted wins for the greater outdoor industry including President Donald Trump’s signing into law the Great American Outdoors Act in August and the passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act this month.

The executive also rehashed how REI kept its purpose in mind throughout 2020, such as addressing racial inequity in the outdoor industry, becoming climate neutral (a goal that was set in 2006) and more.

Artz concluded his letter with a positive, forward-looking message.

“And as we look toward 2021 and beyond, I’m confident in the health of our co-op, the vibrancy of our community and our ability to connect more people to life outside,” Artz wrote. “Every one of you had a profound effect on the co-op this year, and I’m reminded once again of the amazing power of our community working together to create collective impact. Thank you.”

Although not addressed in Artz’s letter, REI also revealed big news for footwear fans this year. Speaking exclusively with FN, the retailer stated it will deliver shoes of its own in 2021. The REI-branded models, according to the retailer, will debut in April and are being billed as “footwear with a lighter footprint.” REI Co-op Brands footwear product manager Bennett Grimes labeled the initial styles as “some of the most sustainable footwear available” and explained that, aside from environmental impact, the retailer is focused on delivering versatile product.

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