Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, has more than 7,500 active members in the Kansas City area, making it one of the top membership markets without a brick-and-mortar REI store of its own.
By JOYCE SMITH
The Kansas City Star
That changes today when a new REI opens its doors in Overland Park. Grand opening celebrations are set for Oct. 4 to 6.
The 23,500-square-foot freestanding store — at 6281 W. 135th St. in the new Prairiefire development — will sell gear and apparel for camping, climbing, cycling, fitness, hiking, kayaking and travel. It also will have a bike shop offering repairs, and will sell apparel for snow sports — but not the equipment. Apparel brands include Patagonia and the North Face, as well as REI’s own line.
With Friday’s opening, REI will have 131 stores in 33 states.
Although anyone can shop at an REI store, the company also is one of the nation’s largest consumer cooperatives with more than 5 million active members — meaning they have shopped at the store or online within the last year. Members pay a one-time $20 fee and receive a share of the company’s profits through annual refunds.
Legends Outlets BBQ closes
After nearly four years of operations, Backfire BBQ Featuring Orange County Choppers has closed in the Legends Outlets Kansas City.
Backfire offered custom motorcycles by Orange County Choppers, an open-flame “hot pit” where customers could make s’mores, and a shop with motorcycle-themed merchandise. And as the name says, it also had barbecue on the menu.
But a few months after the restaurant opened in the Legends at Village West in late 2009, the center changed its focus to outlet stores and its name to Legends Outlets.
“Sales were great. But the mall has been going in a different direction, changing to an outlet mall. They want more retail, less restaurants,” said Steve Schussler, founder of Schussler Creative, the operating partner for Backfire.
Most outlet malls do not have many restaurants, and some offer only food courts, he said.
Schussler is negotiating to open a similar restaurant called Backfire Barbeque in Orlando, Fla.
Meanwhile, Legends Outlets is in negotiations for a retail tenant to open in the former Backfire BBQ spot at 1855 Village West Parkway in Kansas City, Kan.
“It is part of the strategy to take the mall more toward a full outlet retail profile,” said Dave Claflin, spokesman for RED Legacy, co-owner of Legends Outlets.
Helzberg Outlet opens Friday
Helzberg Diamonds, a retail chain and online jewelry store company, has felt the pressure to convert its Legends Outlets location from a traditional store to an outlet. After several days of re-merchandising, the store at 1811 Village West Parkway, Suite O-121, will reopen as an outlet store today.
The Helzberg Diamonds Outlet will be the ninth outlet store for the North Kansas City-based company. It plans to have 13 outlet stores open by the end of the year.
Beryl Raff, chairman and chief executive officer of Helzberg Diamonds, said more new outlet malls are opening compared with traditional centers.
Helzberg was founded in 1915 and has more than 230 stores nationwide.
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