Adventure in Iowa with REI Coming this Fall
In 1938 Loyd and Mary Anderson formed the Recreational Equipment Cooperative to be able to share outdoor gear with their fellow adventure buddies. Fast forward 75 years and REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.) has grown to include over 130 stores and an active community of over five million members, all the while sharing the same enthusiasm for a community invested cooperative that can supply your next big adventure.
One of the newest stores in the REI handbook, which will open in the fall of this year, is located in the heart of the Midwest in West Des Moines, Iowa—a city and state that your average user might not associate with adventure. With a little help from Mike Ferris, the public affairs and communication director at REI headquarters in Seattle, you can see the Iowa adventure opportunities and why REI has chosen Iowa as their new location.
Iowa Has Quite a Few Adventurers
“The region boasts an active outdoor population including 3,600 active REI members,” said Ferris, “but today the nearest store is more than 200 miles away. We are always looking for new locations to better serve our current and future members.”
Maybe more synonymous with agriculture, the state of Iowa also boasts a healthy array of outdoor activity including over 70 state parks to explore and camp at, the Register’s Annual Bike Race Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), as well as a giant Frozen Ice Silo that attracts ice climbers from around the world.
Catering Towards the Crowd
In accordance to what Iowa has to offer, the new West Des Moines store will be targeted specifically for the Iowa outdoors, and what you can expect to find on the shelves is what you can expect to find yourself doing in the Hawkeye State. “We expect camping, hiking/backpacking and biking to be among the most popular departments,” said Ferris. “Running, jogging, and sports & exercise as well as travel may also be popular at the West Des Moines location.”
And that’s good, because the people of Iowa didn’t earn the acronym Idiots Out Wandering Around for no reason, and with the Upper Peninsula only a short drive away, as well the Black Hills, Mammoth Caves, and an overnight train trip to Colorado, you can usually spot an Iowan out on the slopes by their wide eyes and amazed looks towards the mountain scenery. What that means for the new REI is a large client base from an adventure driven community, and plenty of people to take part in the many classes and clinics offered by the store.
More than Just Gear
The classes and clinics offered by REI are determined by the activities around them, as well as the community’s interest. The Denver store offers a How to Climb a 14’er class; the Seattle REI has a Run Club in the Puget Sound; the REI in New York hosts a Morning Yoga at Sunshine Lake. The classes and clinics at the new Iowa REI will start with the basics and build alongside its place in the community.
“REI West Des Moines will offer a variety of programs and classes, including camping and hiking basics, bike maintenance, and back country skills,” said Ferris. And whatever those specific classes and clinics end up being, whether they are run club at Gray’s Lake, Frisbee Golf tutorials (Iowa is one of the densest states when it comes to Frolf courses), or a Geocaching Club; REI will be prone to new members as they plant themselves down amongst the cornfields and raise the adventure flag up high.
A lifetime REI membership runs for $20 and includes enough benefits to pay itself off within the first year, including an annual 10% cashback on eligible purchases, and alongside that divided a membership at REI gives users access to discounted classes, trips, and in-store discounts. Check out the Membership Page for more details and the next time you find yourself in the state of Iowa, take a note from the REI handbook and check out some Midwest adventure.
Iowa State Parks That Should Be On Your Radar
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