Contractors work on the new fascade of the REI store opening this spring.  (File)

Contractors work on the new fascade of the REI store opening this spring. (File)

Of the Keizertimes

The REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) store in Keizer Station is indeed opening in a spring month starting with ‘M.’

It’s not going to be March, however.

A company spokeswoman confirmed Feb. 28 the Washington-based outdoor retailer will be opening in the former Circuit City building soon.

“The store will open in early May and include a variety of grand opening events during the weekend,” Bethany Hawley, senior public affairs associate for REI, told the Keizertimes. “The store’s management team is currently reviewing applications from several hundred candidates. Group interviews will begin next weekend. Our goal is to hire employees beginning in March.”

Previously, city officials had believed the store would be opening in March. The only official communication from the company was a press release last October, which only listed a spring timeline.

“We never announced a March opening date and have always been planning a spring opening,” Hawley said.

Hawley said Keizer store management will be working with REI’s human relations team to review applications.

“Our plan is to hire a total of 45 employees,” said Hawley, noting the breakdown between full-time and part-time numbers would be released later.

Circuit City closed in March 2009. Since January 2010, the building had been used as the Futsal Center by the Keizer Soccer Club. The club moved out last September as work began to convert the building into an REI. The conversion included adding 1,735 square feet to the back of the building, making it 22,165 square feet total.

Counting the new Keizer Station store, REI will have five locations in the greater Portland area, with the next closest being in Tigard.

Local leaders were enthused when the news was announced last fall.

“This is certainly not only good, but it shows some panache,” Keizer mayor Lore Christopher said at the time. “This is something we always wanted Keizer Station to do. I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Christine Dieker, executive director of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce, shared that excitement.

“I’m pretty enthusiastic about it,” Dieker said. “I think it’s going to be a retail service a good portion of our Keizer people will love. It will be so nice to get that outdoor gear here in Keizer. And the connection to the river has a benefit, with activities like kayaking, the boat ramp and disc golf. It’s great to have a store that speaks to that clientele.”