Walla Walla Valley's bike trails to be featured in REI shoot

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WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla Valley’s picture perfect bike trails will be the backdrop for an REI photo shoot over the next few days.

The Seattle outdoor adventure company is shooting still photographs on the Valley’s urban and mountain trails for its 2014 Novara bike series and apparel. The photographs will be used in the company’s catalog, plus direct mail pieces, its website and possibly in-store signage for its 120 retail spots, said Buffy Bieber, REI’s studio producer.

From the Umatilla Rim to Pepper Bridge Winery, the 15-member crew, including models, will travel throughout the Valley between today and Sunday.

The shoot not only infuses a three-day investment from the company in local hotels and restaurants. It also creates long-term publicity for the community through what essentially serve as publicity shots, said David Woolson, president and chief executive officer for the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce and Walla Walla Film Office.

“Obviously they leave dollars behind when they come to shoot,” Woolson said. “But we can also ride other people’s marketing efforts. It gets us a nice promotional place in REI’s marketing materials.”

Bieber said the idea to shoot in Walla Walla came from an art director, who has raced bikes in the community. With help from the Film Office, REI was able to get necessary permits and worked through logistics.

“It’s just a unique city. That’s what brought us here,” Bieber said after a morning stop with the crew at Maple Counter Café. “It’s very bike-friendly with a homey feel. You can ride your bike anywhere. The sense of community is really what drives REI, and keeps our customers coming back. We felt that here when we came and scouted a couple of weeks ago.”

Bieber said Damien Sinnott, and avid cyclist and the Chamber’s vice president of public policy and business development, has helped coordinate the visit.

She said the promotional materials typically generate buzz for the communities where they’re shot.

“Always,” she said. “They call in, and our direct sales department answers. They want to know where it was and when. Those are the types of questions we get, and we let them know exactly where it is.”

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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