REI Announces 2009 Vendor Partner Award Winners

REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a national retail co-op providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, today announced its 2009 vendor partner award winners. Smith Optics, Inc.
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REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), a national retail co-op providing quality outdoor gear and clothing, today announced its 2009 vendor partner award winners. Smith Optics, Inc., best known for its diverse line of sunglasses, snow and motorsports goggles, snow helmets, and ophthalmic eyewear, received top honors as REI's Vendor Partner of the Year. The announcement was made at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show.

“REI's ability to serve our members and customers begins with providing the right assortment of outdoor products from the top companies in the retail industry today,” said Angela Owen, REI's vice president of Merchandising. “We value our partnerships with these leaders in product quality and innovation, outdoor stewardship and performance, and we're grateful for the opportunity to recognize our standout vendors each year.”

The annual awards program, established in 1993, recognizes three key vendors and one overall vendor for efforts that have built a strategic and successful relationship with REI. The co-op's three merchandising divisions – camp/travel, actionsports and outdoorwear – nominate companies, then REI retail employees vote on the slate of nominees to determine winners.

“Smith Optics' selection as REI's 2009 Vendor Partner of the Year was a difficult choice to make because of the quality of all our top vendors,” continued Owen. “However, Smith stood out for its commitment to our partnership, shared values, product inspiration and innovation, and outstanding financial results in an extraordinarily challenging year. Smith excelled as a true partner in every sense of the word – making exceptional efforts to listen and engage with us so they truly understand REI and our members' needs.”

Smith Optics, Inc., headquartered in Sun Valley, Idaho, was founded in 1965 with the creation of the first goggle featuring a sealed thermal lens and breathable vent foam. Today, Smith is known for its diverse line of eyewear. Smith's devotion to excellence, innovation, performance and style has made Smith the choice of action-sport athletes worldwide. Smith products are sold in more than 50 countries through sporting goods and specialty stores. For more information, check out www.smithoptics.com.

The other 2009 divisional vendor partner award winners are as follows:

• Camp/Travel Winner: Marmot Mountain, LLC. (Santa Rosa, Calif.) – a leading outdoor apparel, clothing and equipment manufacturer – is distributed in over 44 countries world-wide. In 35 years, Marmot has evolved into a full-service line, specializing in technical apparel, clothing and hard-goods (including tents, backpacks and sleeping bags) for skiing, climbing, mountaineering, hiking, backpacking and camping. For more information, visit www.marmot.com.
• Action Sports Winner: Planet Bike (Madison, Wisc.) – creates innovative products that make it easier and safer for people to ride bicycles. Because Planet Bike believes that the bicycle can improve the health of individuals, communities and the planet, the company donates 25 percent of profits to causes that promote bicycle use. For more information, visit www.planetbike.com.
• Outdoorwear Winner: Teva (Goleta, Calif.) – a global adventure brand with an intrinsic and deeply ingrained connection to water. Teva was born on the Colorado River in 1984, and ever since then, water has been at the core of everything it does. The company builds products knowing that “when it comes to water, sometimes you want to play with it, and sometimes you want to be protected from it. So no matter the situation, Teva has you covered.” For more information, visit www.teva.com.

Other nominees for 2009 also included: B.O.B Trailers, Inc., Deuter USA, Evolv Sports & Designs, Garmin International, GSI Outdoors, Merrell, Patagonia, Sea To Summit USA, Shimano American Corporation, SmartWool, and The North Face.

Past recipients of the REI Vendor Partner of the Year Award include Atlas Snowshoe (1999), Black Diamond Equipment (1994, 2006), Bell Sports (1997), CamelBak Products, LLC (2008), Cascade Designs (2001), Columbia Sportswear (1998), Eagle Creek (2000, 2005), Keen Footwear (2004), Osprey (2007), prAna (2003), Smith Sport Optics (2002), Vasque (1995, 1996), and Yakima (1993).

About REI
REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. Founded in 1938 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers seeking quality equipment, REI is committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

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