PHOENIX — The next time you need a lantern or camp stove for a weekend hiking trip, you should be able to order it faster from REI.com, thanks to a new warehouse the Seattle co-op opened in Goodyear.
The facility will not only supply REI stores across a broad swath of the country, like those in Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson and Flagstaff, but also fulfill online orders from REI.com, speeding up shipping for more customers and members of the outdoors co-op.
The warehouse is about the size of three Walmart Supercenters and uses a high-tech system to gather items for shipping. It is the third facility in REI’s supply chain, with the others in Washington state and Pennsylvania.
“This one is more advanced and highly sustainable,” said Rick Bingle, vice president of supply chain for REI.
The need to build an industrial facility creates a bit of a conundrum for a company that prides itself on stewardship of the outdoors. REI not only constructed the building with an eye toward the environment by having it certified by LEED, the national standard for sustainable construction, but also partnered with environmental groups to protect watersheds in Arizona.
Working with the Arizona Nature Conservancy and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, REI will support a restoration project in the Verde Valley north of Phoenix that will enhance recreation opportunities on the Verde River at two sites and protect 63 acres of habitat with Hauser Farms. It also will support projects on Oak Creek near Sedona.
The building also has a large solar-power system on the roof that is designed to offset the amount of power consumed by the building.
The facility will serve 60 of REI’s 145 stores, representing 41 percent of total retail volume. It will reach approximately 36 percent of REI’s co-op customers and offer 20 percent more customers two-day ground service.
Bingle said cost modeling indicated Southern California would be the optimal location for the facility, but REI wanted to avoid that region for a variety of reasons. Then the decision came down to Las Vegas or the Phoenix area.
“After an exhaustive search, Phoenix came back as the right place to be and Goodyear was an amazing location and city,” he said. “Being west of Phoenix, we can easily move products into Southern or Northern California, or north to Denver. And it is outside the traffic patterns in Phoenix.”
REI, formally known as Recreational Equipment Inc., has 12,000 employees, stores in 35 states, and more than 6 million members of its co-op. Its revenue was $2.4 billion last year.