REI going to mountains.
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.