This article was originally written by Cara Salpini for Retail Dive.
Joining others in the outdoors space, Eddie Bauer has launched a rental gear program via Arrive Outdoors.
The program ships rental gear and apparel directly to consumers within the contiguous U.S., including to a home, a hotel or a FedEx location. Shoppers reserve the gear online, get it shipped to them and then return it to a FedEx location using a free return label.
Eddie Bauer Gear Rental, as the service is called, is an attempt to make outdoor activities more accessible, the company said. In particular, for consumers who live in urban areas or have smaller living spaces, and for those who either can’t afford to buy the gear they need or don’t want to spend the money on premium products for one trip.
Increasingly, retailers of all kinds are getting involved in the rental and resale markets in an attempt to both lengthen the lifecycle of products and serve a different set of consumers.
For Eddie Bauer, it’s a way to open up its premium outdoor offerings to a larger subset of customers. On the site for the program, Eddie Bauer offers everything from jackets and swim trunks to hiking boots and tents, all for relatively low prices. A down parka on the site, which retails for $350, is $17.50 per day to rent. A pair of $180 hiking boots goes for $9 per day, while a $20 pop-up lantern can be rented for $1 per day. The company noted that the program will help Eddie Bauer move toward a more sustainable, circular commerce model.
The outdoors space in particular has been swift to see the value in used gear and rentals, as consumers often need gear for a specific trip rather than for their everyday lifestyle. REI has long held garage sales for its members, and in 2018 announced the beginning of a “significant expansion” of its rental program, vowing to expand not only the number of products available but also the quality. A year later, REI brought its gear rental program to 115 stores, and in 2020, the retailer expanded its efforts again, debuting two pop-up used gear stores and testing a members trade-in program.
Patagonia, too, has worked to extend the life of its products, including through its Worn Wear program, which began selling used gear online in 2017 and two years later opened a physical storefront for the concept. Outdoor retailers, though well-situated, are not the only ones taking advantage of a trend of shoppers looking for secondhand or rental products instead of paying full price. Teen retailer Pacsun recently got into resale, and the used apparel market as a whole is projected to reach $77 billion in five years, according to resale platform ThredUp.
For Eddie Bauer, the move comes shortly after it was acquired by Sparc group. The retailer also partnered with Kohl’s in February to sell a selection of gear at the department store.