A sign of economic recovery can be found at The Collection in Oxnard. That's the name of the open-air retail market off Oxnard Boulevard and the 101 freeway.
The shopping center's construction was finished just as the recession hit. That's when REI and other stores put the brakes on their opening dates. The consumer co-op recreational equipment store cancelled openings in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Friday, the REI opened at 10 a.m. with 700 people waiting outside the door. The first 200 customers received gift cards and water bottles.
REI'S manager Mat Wheat said he hired 50 employees to run the store, which is next to the new Riverpark neighborhood. For the opening, REI also hired people to run a free zip line and climbing wall. They even hired an sand-castle builder. The sand-castle looks like an adventurer visiting the Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County.
The grand opening event runs through Sunday with more giveaways.