Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Shoppers started setting up tents a day in advance for the grand opening of the new Clackamas store
by: Anthony Roberts, The grand opening of the Clackamas REI.

With six to eight new stores opening each year and membership in its co-op swelling to 2 million, it's safe to say that outdoor retail giant REI has a loyal following.

Make that rabid.

Shoppers started camping out at 3 p.m. last Thursday - when temperatures dipped into the 30s overnight - for the Clackamas store's grand opening at 10 a.m. Friday. By 9:30 a.m., a crowd of hundreds wrapped around the side of Clackamas Town Center, enjoying a free breakfast and waiting to gain a peek at the new 29,000-square-foot store, the fourth in the Portland Metro area.

The new store had a full slate of weekend activities planned; the first 200 visitors in the door Friday, Saturday and Sunday got a water bottle with a gift certificate ranging from $5 to $100 inside. There were also contests for free gear, presentations by outdoor athletes like big-mountain skier Chris Davenport and other deals.

'We've had a presence in Portland for 30 years,' store manager Alison Washburn said while preparing for the grand opening last week. 'This allows us to serve our loyal customers out this way.'

The Clackamas store completes a circle around Portland for the outdoor retailer, with other stores downtown, in Hillsboro and in Tualatin. There are also locations in Eugene and Bend.

REI is best known for both its massive assortment of outdoor gear and its position as a co-op. While customers don't have to be members to shop there, they may join for a one-time fee, getting back a dividend each year based on the amount they spend. The company doled out $56 million last year to its 2 million members.

The company also has a tradition of environmental stewardship. Already, employees from the Clackamas store took part in a habitat restoration project on Spring Creek near Estacada. The new store also enlists a number of green building practices like re-circulated air and an extensive recycling program.

Clackamas REI has a community room that is unique to the Portland area stores. It will be open to some of the nonprofit groups it partners with, such as the Western Rivers Conservancy. The space will also serve as a classroom for clinics REI offers, such as bicycle maintenance classes and seminars that offer an introduction into different outdoor sports.

Founded in Seattle in 1938, REI opened its first Oregon store in 1976 in Jantzen Beach. The Tualatin store opened in 1990, followed by Hillsboro in 2004. The Portland store moved to the Pearl District in 2003. The Clackamas store gives the company a location between the city and the Cascades.

'We strive to be a company that's a gateway to the outdoors, and this location really provides that,' Washburn said.

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