outdoor gear retailer rei opens doors in soho

“Is there anything you don’t have here?” a customer asked a clerk at the giant REI store, the first in New York City, that opened on Lafayette Street in Manhattan on Saturday morning.

“Well,” answered the associate, with a laugh. “We don’t have a hot tub.”

A walk through the vast selection of outdoor gear spread across three levels and 35,000 square feet reveals instantly why the customer had asked the question. Amid the dizzying array of skis, coils of climbing ropes (alas, no massive climbing wall as at the company’s Seattle flagship store), camping tents, down vests and day packs are also departments well stocked with cycling apparel, bicycles, accessories and gear, as well a bicycle service center on the main level. A calendar of events, which I picked up from one of the information racks around the store, also contains entries related to bicycling, including lectures and trips.

A shopper inspects the selection of cycling products that help provide safety after dark.

There’s a lot to explore, and the good news for city cyclists is that one can find a good selection of items to keep warm, dry, protected and visible and also to transport bicycles, cargo and children. Cycling equipment and gear here tends toward the practical and, ahem, middle-of-the-road, so performance cyclists seeking fancy brands will need to look elsewhere, as will hipsters hunting for heritage labels.  The brands are familiar: Bern, SmartWool, Gore, Timbuk2, Princeton Tech. The REI house brand of bicycle is Novara, but others lines are sold as well. Service on the busy opening day was friendly and check-out orderly.

The new store is situated in the historic Puck Building, home in the 19th century to Puck Magazine and since used for a variety of purposes. Its interior renovation incorporates environmentally sensitive materials, including handsome floors of recycled vintage white-oak barn wood, and maintains some of the building’s original features, such as a pair of massive steam turbine flywheels on the cellar level. Learn more about the new REI store here.

Water bottles are imprinted with the map of the New York City subway system.
A customer browses among baskets, panniers and other cycling accessories and gear.

photos: top, Matt Peyton/AP; all others velojoy

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