Posted on April 19, 2023

REI to Close Only Portland Store, Citing Break-Ins, Theft

Kristine de Leon, The Oregonian, April 17, 2023

The outdoor retail giant REI announced Monday that it plans to close its store in Portland’s Pearl District early next year, citing an increase in crime and theft.

In an email to customers Monday, REI said its store in Portland “had its highest number of break-ins and thefts in two decades, despite actions to provide extra security.”

It plans to close the location ahead of its lease expiration in February.

REI is the latest major retailer to close Portland stores, and the highest-profile among them to publicly blame theft as the reason. Nike closed one of its Portland stores to public access, telling city officials the closure was due to shoplifting. Walmart also recently closed its only two Portland stores for underperformance.

Retailers large and small, meanwhile, say theft is a growing problem in Portland, and that city officials have been slow to respond.


The company said its theft problem came to a head last November, when a car crashed through the glass front doors of REI’s Pearl District store on Black Friday. It was the store’s third break-in in a week.


Behrbaum said REI has made costly investments in store security, including replacing the store’s windows with security glass, hiring around-the-clock private security and installing a surveillance trailer at the store’s loading dock. Despite its plans to close the store, she said the company is installing new security sensors for its remaining months of business.


“Yet, we still experienced 10 burglaries, including one event that shut down our 14th street entrance for more than two months,” Behrbaum said. She said over the past two years, REI has made significant investments on securing its Portland store.


Behrbaum said that REI has also been unsuccessful in working with its landlord to address safety issues at the store and implementing other improvements.

“The extra security measures required to keep customers and employees safe are not financially sustainable,” Behrbaum said. {snip}