Lloyd and Mary Anderson were enthusiastic mountaineers in the 1930s in search of cheaper equipment. The process of purchasing ice picks and other mountain equipment from local shops was expensive, so Lloyd took to ordering directly from the source, Austria. The two began saving money by cutting out the middleman. Other mountaineers in the area caught on and asked to join Lloyd and Mary in their purchases. Quickly, the group’s buying power was strengthened by the community, and the REI co-op was officially founded. With a membership fee of just $1, the Anderson’s co-op built a strong community of outdoor enthusiasts that served as the foundation for REI as we know it today.
REI has remained committed to its community since the beginning. The company has no shareholders. It is a member-owned cooperative with nearly 20 million members. Fifteen thousand employees across 168 locations in 39 states to help folks get the most out of the REI co-op. Over 70 percent of REI’s profits are “invested back into the outdoor community through dividends to REI members, employee profit-sharing and retirement, and investments in nonprofits dedicated to the outdoors.” REI offers products from leading outdoor retailers as well as in-house designed products and apparel. Not only does REI offer affordable gear, it aims to do so sustainably. REI sets strict standards of ethics and sustainability for its new products as well as offering used gear and gear rentals.
REI’s focus on community is not only clear in its business, but in its relationship to its community. The REI Cooperative Action Network was founded by the company as a platform that gives both employees and members a “toolkit” of ways to take action on pressing issues and legislation regarding the environment and the REI community at large.
Unlike other outdoor gear and apparel companies, REI’s co-op business model fosters a deep sense of community and joy. Employees and members share a passion for the outdoors and reap the benefits of a trusting relationship. REI is focused on continuing its mission to make the outdoors more accessible and create a community from there. It’s been using the same innovation since 1938, and has no plans of stopping any time soon.
6750 S. 228th St.
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 395-3780
President & CEO: Eric Artz
Travell and Adventure