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REI Opens its DC Flagship Store

The national outdoor co-op, opens its fifth flagship store today in historic Washington coliseum.
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) welcomed the public with a Grand Opening Block Party on Friday, October 21, through Sunday, October 23, 2016 to celebrate their brand-new DC Flagship store along with the in-store coffee shop, La Colombe. 

Located in the revitalized Washington, DC Uline Arena in the Northeast neighborhood of NoMa, the entrance to the store is adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the NoMa/Gallaudet Metro station. This is REI’s fifth ever flagship store. 

For three days the festivities took over the streets, commandeered the Wunder Garten, and hosted a fantastic lineup of local and national artists at Storey Park. Friday the doors opened at 10:00 AM with a ribbon cutting and big band fanfare, and DJs kept the party going all day long. On Saturday and on Sunday the main stage had live bands, and there were beer gardens, screen printing, s'mores, a portable rock climbing wall set up by Earth Treks climbing gym, Outdoor School classes, and more. 

REI DC Store

Saturday's music started with a family band and went on with a Beatles cover band, live go-go, and lots of DJ sets. Sunday, along with the Living Classroom Foundation's Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival, there was live Americana and bluegrass on the main stage. 

The first 500 people on all three days received a DC Camelbak bottle with a single-use promotional gift card that won’t expire until December 31, 2016. Everyone could have free coffee and breakfast each morning. 

In addition, those who attended the Grand Opening Block Party were able to help decide how to share a $100,000 REI contribution among five regional outdoor non-profits.

The 51,000-square-foot LEED Gold-certified building is designed for DC’s cycling community that already includes over 281,000 REI members who live in and around the area. Featured are a massive bike and biking gear area, a sleeping bag area where you can take a “snuggle“, ski and snowboard shops, a rental department, and a unique repair shop where you can watch the technicians at work. Being just off the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the store is able to handle emergency fixes for cyclists. 

You can also use the store to plan your next trip because REI partnered with the National Park Service and incorporated an “adventure station” with maps, guide books, and brochures of the national parks, forests, and other destinations. A dedicated staff can help you choose a locale based on your individual criteria. There will also be day outings, field programs, and free and low-cost in-store classes. It is expected that the store will bring 150 new jobs.

The Arena, also known as the Washington Coliseum, was built in 1941. It was the site of President Eisenhower’s inaugural ball in 1953 and the Beatles’ first concert in the United States after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. It joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. 

Most of the interior is brand new, but some of original architectural elements are still visible such as the original archways which are a prominent part of the new courtyard, reclaimed wood and steel, original columns, part of the building’s foundation, and one hallway that is clad in the original flooring and the old stadium seating mounted on the wall.

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