An REI storefront in Dublin, Ohio. The retailer hasn't yet released details about the Santa Cruz store's design.
Local Business

Toy store swap: Outdoors giant REI taking over former Toys R Us space in unincorporated Santa Cruz

The Seattle-based co-op retailer will open its latest store, its 15th in the Northern California region, in the fall. Its closest current stores are in Monterey and Saratoga.

The former Toys R Us building on Commercial Way in unincorporated Santa Cruz has sat vacant for nearly three years after 50 employees were let go in a liquidation that closed more than 200 stores nationwide.

A bigger kid toy store of sorts is now set to replace it.

An REI Co-op store will open in the 22,622-square-foot space in the fall, REI’s 15th location in Northern California. The nearest Recreational Equipment Inc. stores are in Monterey and Saratoga.

“The Santa Cruz community is passionate about their outdoor places and REI is excited to bring a store to the area to connect with the community even more,” Kirk Peterson, REI regional director of Northern California, said in a press release.

“We have a lot of REI members that live or recreate around Santa Cruz, and this new location will be a hub to provide resources, expertise and gear for residents and visitors to enjoy the outdoors.”

According to the release, REI has financially supported local nonprofits including the Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, Ecology Action, Sempervirens Fund and others.

The building at 1660 Commercial Way that for many years housed Toys R Us.

The Santa Cruz store will have bike and ski shop services. REI Santa Cruz will also offer a range of virtual classes, workshops, and guided outdoor experiences.

Year-round and seasonal programming will include: Learn to Kayak, How to Ride a Bike, and Backcountry Navigation with a Map and Compass. The company also says the community can expect day trips like REI’s “Bike N Brews Tour: Santa Cruz Coast” to return post-pandemic.

The Seattle-based company has a total of 168 stores in 39 states. Those interested in applying for jobs can set up a job alert to be notified when positions are posted for the Santa Cruz store here. A timeline for hiring at the Santa Cruz location can be found here.