Shopaholism: REI Flagship Store in Soho, NYC
Soho and the Lower East Side are full of New Yorkers dressed like they should be in the mountains being rugged. If they actually cared to do something adventurous (highly doubtful) the massive REI Flagship Store in The Puck Building on Lafayette Street would be their supplier. Outside of big cities REI stores are sprawling warehouses of outdoor gear, so in NYC it's no surprise that the store took over three huge floors to create the same comprehensive retail space.
Starting on ground level and reaching two levels down into Manhattan's bedrock, REI has everything you'd expect and more from kayaks to outdoor apparel to animal shaped bike helmets. What struck me was how much the store's designers have worked to blend a modern urban aesthetic into the space. Metal lettering, exposed brick, etched glass and even murals were used to blend a store that caters to outdoor activities in nature into New York City and it really works.
While we were inside, there were a surprising number of shoppers buying camping backpacks, testing out hiking boots and listening to presentations (part of the sub-basement serves as a lecture space). If you're living in New York and planning to rough it far, far away, REI should be your first stop.
REI Flagship Store
The Puck Building
303 Lafayette Street (at Houston Street)
Soho, New York City