REI Bellevue's Quest For More Outdoor Adventures in Downtown
Bellevue is often referred to as a “city in a park,” offering over 2700 acres of parks, trails and open space. It’s no surprise REI Co-op relocated back to Downtown Bellevue in 2016 after being away from the city for nearly 20 years.
“It felt like coming home,” Alison Washburn, manager at the REI Bellevue store, said.
REI believes that a life outdoors is a life well lived. They’ve been a staple in the Pacific Northwest, where outdoor lovers can find top-quality gear and apparel, bike repair service and expert advice. Beyond their physical products and expertise, the Co-op's passion lies in working with nonprofits to make Downtown Bellevue accessible for all. The REI Bellevue store continues to work with local organizations like the BDA and City of Bellevue on multimodal transportation, bicycle corridors and Eastrail. Washburn says parks and open spaces enrich people’s experiences, especially during the pandemic.
“Building active outdoors and trail connectivity is near and dear to my heart and very much part of REI’s vision and mission as a company,” she said. “It’s been a real bright spot to see people embrace and connect with nature as part of their wellness.”
REI Bellevue offers community outdoor adventures like survival workshops, bike riding classes and hiking trips. In 2019, they opened their REI Boathouses at Meydenbauer Bay Park and Enatai Beach Park where kayak, paddleboard and canoe rentals are offered to the Bellevue community. They look forward to re-opening later this spring on May 1.
“It was an opportunity to invite our community to try new experiences,” Washburn said. “The first summer we opened [the boathouse] was amazing, people embraced the easy accessibility to outdoor gear.”
“It was remarkable to see members of the community come out and celebrate on a cold rainy day,” she said. “I think that speaks to the enthusiasm and excitement of the Bellevue community to be able to connect more easily.”
Washburn has been with the co-op for more than 25 years and enjoys working for a purpose-based company.
“Our purpose has always been to connect people to the outdoors," she said. "It’s a joy to serve the Bellevue community.”
This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.