People are searching for outdoor adventures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and this Friday, East Tennesseeans’ explorations will be even easier because a new REI Co-op location is opening in Pigeon Forge.
The “gateway to outdoor adventures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park” will welcome shoppers Friday in the Tower Shops at the Mountain Mile complex. The store was set to open in the spring, but the virus delayed developers’ plans.
The massive 21,500 square-foot store will offer outdoor gear, rentals, a zero-contact bike shop and socially distanced shopping options from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
“With proximity to the most visited national park in the country, Pigeon Forge is an exciting and unique location that will allow us to connect our members to the outdoors,” said Matt Wheat, REI Pigeon Forge store manager in a release.
“Whether you’re someone with years of experience who needs a piece of technical equipment, or a first-time camper looking to rent gear, our goal is to help every adventurer in the Great Smokies get outside.”
REI to contribute to local nonprofits
REI will invest $10,000 in the community to celebrate the opening of the Pigeon Forge location, according to the release.
East Tennessee nonprofits Discover Life in America and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont will receive $5,000 each to promote the programs’ missions of protecting the national park and educating people about the environment.
The company has invested more than $98,000 in local outdoor nonprofits in Tennessee and millions in national programs to connect people to the outdoors.
Shoppers will have a chance to give back in-store. Customers can round their order total up to the nearest dollar to be donated to a select, local nonprofit once the store opens.
Connecting to the outdoors – virtually
REI has encouraged people to explore the outdoors since the company started in 1938, but the pandemic has kept many at home. That’s why REI is asking customers to adventure safely and virtually when they can.
Members will be able to take a virtual tour of the Pigeon Forge store online starting Sept. 3. Virtual classes will also be offered at reivirtualevents.splashthat.com until it’s safe to hold workshops in person again.
Shoppers don’t even have to come to the store to get fitted for their gear. Members can schedule remote appointments to receive one-on-one hiking boot and running shoe fittings, cycling outfitting and camping and backpacking outfitting from home.
Tower Shops coming soon
REI is the newest store to join the Tower Shops at the Mountain Mile, and more are on the way.
These tenants are expected to open soon, according to Tower Shops social media:
- Cinnaholic: a gourmet vegan cinnamon roll bakery with more than 20 unique frosting flavors and a variety of fresh and decadent toppings.
- Appalachian Apparel Company: a clothing store with designs made by makers across the Appalachian region.
- Southern Style Boutique: a store for Southern women looking for the most fashionable trends.
Visitors can already enjoy these shops and attractions at the Mountain Mile:
- Junction 35 Spirits: a distillery, kitchen and bar serving Pigeon Forge guests.
- Coffee Armory: a patriotic cafe, which serves Black Rifle Coffee Company daily.
- Mountain Monster: A 200-foot tower with three thrill rides overlooking Pigeon Forge.
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