UPDATED — The Greenwich Place development at K-96 and Greenwich has scored another major national retailer.
“It’s a huge get for Wichita and a great anchor for our project,” says Greenwich Place developer Christian Ablah of Classic Real Estate.
REI, which has about 175 stores in about 35 states, started in 1938 when a group of outdoor-loving friends “decided to source quality and affordable gear for their adventures,” according to its website.
“They’re only doing eight to 10 deals a year, so for Wichita to get (one), that really is a huge deal,” Ablah says.
Landmark Commercial Real Estate broker Scott Harper, who handled the deal with Ablah, says it’s a bigger win than solely for Wichita.
“I’d even say south-central Kansas.”
Harper says when people think of outdoor sports in Kansas, historically they think of hunting, fishing and traditional team sports.
“This validates that there’s a lot of other outdoor activities and lifestyles that maybe haven’t been being met.”
Via e-mail, an REI spokeswoman said, “We have not announced plans for a store in Wichita.”
When questioned about a possible store this spring, another REI spokeswoman responded via e-mail to say, “We haven’t announced plans for a store in Wichita, but I’m happy to keep you in the loop if that changes.”
REI carries men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and gear for all kinds of outdoor recreation, including biking, skiing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, climbing, running, yoga and camping among other things.
“They have a lot of unique products that you can’t currently get in Wichita,” Ablah says.
He says REI is especially good at analyzing a market before opening a store in one.
“They’re experts at what they do, and they know absolutely there is that high-end customer that doesn’t have to travel to Kansas City to go to REI anymore.”
“I think a pretty broad spectrum of Wichitans will find something there,” Harper says.
He first starting courting REI in 2012.
“And then finally in 2015, they showed at least some level of interest and understanding of what we might have here for them,” Harper says. “We’re finally here.”
The REI website says that “more than 70 percent of our annual profits are invested back into the outdoor community through dividends to REI members, employee profit-sharing and retirement, and investments in nonprofits dedicated to the outdoors.”
“This continues to be a great regional draw,” Ablah says.
He’s, of course, still working on more deals.
“Can’t wait to tell you.”
Look for more news from the company as it’s available.