REI Announces Plans for Massive New Tennessee Distribution Center

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Recreational Equipment Inc., better known as REI, is bringing a massive distribution center to Middle Tennessee. It will create hundreds of jobs for locals and provide faster shipping for customers in the region.

For those who aren’t familiar with REI, they’re a Seattle, Washington-area-based member-owned co-op. Millions of outdoor enthusiasts go to the national chain for all of their outdoor needs. However, some customers in the South and on parts of the East Coast have dealt with long shipping times in recent years. The company hopes to solve some of its supply chain problems with the new center.

Lebanon, Tennessee Gets REI Distribution Center, New Jobs

According to Tennessean, REI currently has over 20 million members. 267,000 of those are located in Tennessee. So, this new distribution center will benefit a fraction of the company’s membership. Additionally, it will bring 280 new jobs to Lebanon, Tennessee.

REI is building the new distribution center at 1400 Murfreesboro Road, about a mile off of I-40 in Lebanon. It sits on roughly 41 acres of land. However, the facility will have the ability to expand. Additionally, the company will assess the need for new distribution centers in the area at a later date. So, it is possible that the outdoor co-op will give the area’s economy a shot in the arm.

The company hopes that this new facility will help them better serve their existing customers in the South, Midwest, and East Coast regions. Additionally, REI hopes that the faster shipping times will allow them to bring in more customers and build their brand in those regions. It will serve a total of seventy stores in those regions.

REI predicts that the distribution center will open in the fall of 2023. When it does, REI will have four such facilities in the United States. The others are in Washington, Arizona, and Pennsylvania.

Supply Chain Issues, Warehouse Shortages

Right now, businesses across the country are dealing with major supply chain issues. They’re seeing fewer employees who want to work in warehouses. Additionally, the pandemic caused an even bigger boom in online shopping which brings the need for more warehouse space. For the consumer that means fewer items on store shelves, longer shipping times, and higher prices across the board. As a result, many businesses are scrambling to find or construct new warehouses.

In 2021 alone, real estate developers constructed a staggering 190 million square feet of warehouse space. Retailers leased nearly half of those buildings before they were completed. Additionally, retailers like REI are working with real estate developers to commission warehouses and distribution centers.

Right now, it looks like the everyday consumer will have to continue to deal with the symptoms of supply chain issues. However, REI’s current construction project is an example of what businesses across the country are doing to combat those issues.