Acclimated and Ready to Roll at REI!

As my second week at REI concludes I have finally begun to get acclimated to my surroundings.  My week began with a meeting with my category merchandising manager (CMM).  The meeting laid out the project that will consume a good portion of my time throughout the summer.  As he started describing the objectives and expected results I found myself starting to clam up a bit.  I felt my comfort zone totally disappear.  The realization quickly sat in that this was going to be one of the most challenging mental endeavors I have had to undertake.

The nuts and bolts of it are very broad and a bit overwhelming.  I am to place REI’s sunglass business under a microscope.  The hope is to uncover whether or not we are able to custom assort merchandise based on many different factors.  The challenge lies in determining what factors may or may not influence sunglass assortments.  As you can imagine it is not a cut and dry answer.  The second aspect to my project is to have a look at the store displays.  The next goal is to understand if we can better manage our merchandise.  It is clear to say that you can’t sell what isn’t on the store floor.  Other questions that come up with managing the fixtures are whether we have the correct size and space allocated for the business and can we possibly utilize the space more effectively.

REIA Plan of Action

After the meeting I sat at my desk for 20 to 30 minutes.  I pondered how I was going to attack the massive assignment.  After the smoke cleared and the sun came back out I started laying out my plan of action.  The outline continued to grow and grow into a two then three page document.  This process put me a little bit at ease (which surprised me).  I knew I had just created my pathway to success.  The week ended as I met again with (CMM).  I was able to lay out what I had accomplished throughout the week as well as how I was going to be successful.  This allowed him to provide me feedback on my plan of action and the work I have already completed.  Success!

Another huge event at REI that occurred this week were the Anderson Awards.  These are awards giving to members of the retail stores and corporate offices that demonstrate impeccable leadership qualities.  The award is voted on by peers making it even more impactful.  The awardees arrive from all over the country to a huge reception of the entire headquarters staff.  It even includes the CEO Jerry Stritzke.  They then continue their experience in northern Washington with activities that include hikes with leadership, seminars on leadership, a brick in a sidewalk with their name etched in the center and a tour of the company flagship store located in downtown Seattle.

The Week Ahead

It was a truly amazing week.  As the weekend rolls in I find myself looking forward to Monday and the challenges that lie ahead.  Stay tuned for next week, I will be chatting about the REI merchandising overview I will be receiving on Monday.  I will describe the lessons learned in the lunches with leadership that will occur throughout the week and I will talk about the media tour I will be taking later in the week. Have a great week!

I am an eight year veteran of the United States Army. I served my country as a Forward Observer during two tours – in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am a senior at the University of Arizona and will be graduating December 2016 with a B.S. in Retailing and Consumer Sciences. This summer I’m working as a Merchandising/Buying intern at REI’s corporate headquarters in Kent, WA.