Outdoors retail cooperative REI has announced that it will be closing its store in Portland’s Pearl District in 2024, citing increased crime as one of the main reasons behind the decision. The company, which has been operating in Portland since 1976, has said that the safety of its employees, members and customers is its number one priority and that it can no longer provide the level of customer and employee experience it strives for at this location, according to a report by the Portland Business Journal.
REI’s decision to close its Pearl District store comes after the business experienced its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite having implemented extra security measures. In 2022 alone, the company spent over $800,000 on additional security, but still suffered from 10 burglaries, including one in which a driver crashed through its 14th Street entrance, causing significant damage and product loss.
The store manager and REI’s chief commercial officer met with Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland’s police chief after the crash to share their concerns for the safety of their employees, members and customers, as well as to discuss the security investments they had made. Despite this, REI’s email stated that crime is overwhelming the systems in place and that the company is no longer confident in its ability to serve its customers in this location.
In addition to the security issues, REI has also stated that it has outgrown the Pearl District location and that it has been unable to work with its landlord on improvements to the building after the crash. As a result, the company has made the difficult decision to close the store next year and will not be reopening in the area.
The closure of the REI store will have a significant impact on the 150 full- and part-time workers employed at the location. However, the company has stated that those who stay at the store through the closing will receive quarterly bonuses and severance if they do not transfer to another store.
REI’s decision to close its Pearl District store highlights the ongoing issue of increased crime in Portland and its impact on local businesses. While the company has appreciated the partnership with law enforcement, it has ultimately found that the extra security measures required to keep customers and employees safe are not financially sustainable.
“The extra security measures required to keep customers and employees safe are not financially sustainable. We will continue to invest in these areas through the remainder of our lease but cannot justify continuing this expense through a lease extension beyond early 2024,” the company stated in an email in the report.