REI's new Medford store is still taking shape but it now has a manager and is taking employment applications.

REI's new Medford store is still taking shape but it now has a manager and is taking employment applications.

The 24,287-square-foot outdoor gear store in the Northgate Centre Marketplace is expected to open in the fall.

"We're hiring and accepting online applications," said REI spokeswoman Bethany Hawley, who is directing potential sales and customer-service hires to www.rei.com/jobs.

The store will employ between 50 and 60 people. The Kent, Wash.-based company offers health care benefits for its part-time staff, she said.

Cindy Biles, a 16-year veteran with the membership cooperative has been named store manager. Biles has been the retailer's assistant manager in Concord, Calif., and is expected to begin work here next week.

REI operates 123 stores in 30 states and has opened between five and eight stores annually. The Rogue Valley store will be one of five opening in 2012.

"It's about a third of the size of our flagship store in Seattle," Hawley said. "We won't have the fireplace or kids' play area we have there, but we have quite a few elements of the flagship, including space for outdoor classes and presentations."

The store is the first between Eugene and Sacramento, which means there might be REI alumni living in the area.

"We definitely see previous members and employees when we open a new location," Hawley said. "We're looking for a balance between experience and love for the outdoors and a passion for customer service."

In addition to selling mountain and road bikes, REI has a bike maintenance, repair and assembly department.

It also rents camping gear during the summer and skiing gear during the winter.

Much-anticipated Trader Joe's also is steaming ahead, along with PETCO, cosmetics retailer Ulta, Men's Wearhouse and La Strada Boutique.

Those stores are expected to open this year, as well. Trader Joe's No. 155 will occupy 13,000 square feet.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.