REI go­ing to moun­tains.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Blevins

REI is headed to Sum­mit County. The out­door re­tailer will use a for­mer Sports Author­ity store in Dillon.

REI’s first store in Sum­mit County prom­ises to en­er­gize the re­gion’s re­tail land­scape, largely void of chain sport­ing goods stores. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, one re­tailer that isn’t trou­bled by the new­comer is Christy Sports, the Colorado spe­cialty ski and snow­board re­tailer.

Christy Sports has a store in Park Mead­ows Mall across from REI and “we have been hap­pily shar­ing cus­tomers for many, many years there,” said Christy Sports spokesman Randy Eng­land.

“We think Christy Sports and REI are very com­ple­men­tary. We don’t con­sider this a threat to our busi­ness in any way,” Eng­land said. “From a brand stand­point, we are ex­cited that REI is com­ing to Dillon and we think they will pro­vide a ben­e­fit to the com­mu­nity and its vis­i­tors.”

The Town of Dillon floated a sales-tax re­bate to help lure REI to town. The town of­fered REI a re­bate of 25 per­cent of its sales tax for 10 years, up to a to­tal of $600,000. The re­bate was of­fered to help REI re­design the in­te­rior of the for­mer Sports Author­ity build­ing it is rent­ing.

“We are open for busi­ness and some­times you’ve got to part­ner with peo­ple to make things hap­pen,” said Dillon Town Man­ager Tom Bres­lin.

The town has of­fered in­cen­tives to other busi­nesses “to spur oc­cu­pancy in lo­ca­tions that have sig­nif­i­cant im­pact to Dillon’s tax base and to smaller busi­nesses,” said Dillon spokes­woman Ker­stin An­der­son.

The new REI will open about a halfmile from Christy Sports’ Dillon store.

Christy Sports, which took over the old Sports Author­ity in West Vail and re­cently ren­o­vated its lo­ca­tion in Vail Vil­lage, op­posed a plan by the Town of Avon to of­fer a tax re­bate to Sun & Ski Sports as that com­pany eyed the for­mer Sports Author­ity store in Avon’s Chapel Square. That pro­posed re­bate was less than what Dillon pro­vided REI.

Christy Sports had re­cently spent $1 mil­lion ren­o­vat­ing its Avon store when the re­tailer last fall blasted Avon’s plan to re­turn to Sun & Ski Sports about $100,000 in tax re­bates a year for the first five years as an in­cen­tive for the com­pany to take over the 33,000square-foot for­mer Sports Author­ity.

“Small-town re­sort com­mu­ni­ties and big box do not go to­gether well. The

Town of Avon should be de­fend­ing small, lo­cal busi­ness to keep in line with the spirit of com­mu­nity,” Christy Sports said in a memo crit­i­cal of the plan to as­sist Sun & Ski, sent to the Avon Town Coun­cil in Septem­ber. “They are at­tempt­ing to lever­age lo­cal tax dol­lar re­bates to off­set build-out costs that are, for all other re­tail­ers, a cost of do­ing busi­ness.”

The Avon coun­cil re­jected the tax re­bate plan, but Sun & Ski Sports still moved in, open­ing in Novem­ber.

An­der­son and Bres­lin said Dillon of­fi­cials have not re­ceived any com­plaints from Christy Sports over the pro­posed REI in­cen­tive.

“We do get ques­tions af­ter in­cen­tives are an­nounced, and we are happy to have a dis­cus­sion with ex­ist­ing busi­ness who be­lieve they might be el­i­gi­ble for a tax in­cen­tive,” An­der­son said.

REI had spent a cou­ple of years eye­ing Sum­mit County for a lo­ca­tion. The com­pany has a store in Grand Junc­tion; its eight other Colorado lo­ca­tions are on the Front Range, in­clud­ing its flag­ship store in the his­toric Den­ver Tramway Co. power plant on the South Platte River.

When Sports Author­ity closed all its stores in May, REI eyed a cou­ple of the re­tail chain’s stores across the coun­try. The Dillon lo­ca­tion “was of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est,” said Julie Lochner, the di­rec­tor of moun­tain re­tail for REI.

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