|Industry||Sporting goods and outdoor gear|
|Headquarters||Kent, Washington, United States|
Number of locations
|145 (May 2016)|
|Revenue||US$2.38 billion (2015)|
|US$136 million (2012)|
|US$29 million (2012)|
|Members||6.02 million |
Number of employees
|12,000 (2015) |
Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly known as REI, is a privately held American retail corporation organized as a consumers' cooperative, selling outdoor recreation gear, sporting goods, and clothing via some 143 retail stores in 36 states, catalogs, and the Internet. REI's annual revenue for 2015 was $2.4 billion, a 9.3 percent increase from 2014 revenue. REI's annual sales in 2014 were $2.2 billion, up 10 percent over its sales in 2013.
Lloyd and Mary Anderson founded REI in Seattle, Washington in 1938. The Andersons imported an Akadem Pickel ice axe from Austria for themselves, and decided to set up a cooperative to help outdoor enthusiasts acquire good quality climbing gear at reasonable prices. Through the 1970s it identified itself prominently as REI Co-op, focusing primarily on equipment for serious climbers, backpackers and mountaineering expeditions. Jim Whittaker, the first American to summit Mt Everest, was hired as the first full-time employee of REI and served as CEO during the 1960s. However, in the 1980s, with changes to its Board of Directors, the emphasis shifted toward family camping and branched out into kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports. Clothing, particularly "sport casual" clothes, also became a greater part of the company's product line. Although the company remained a cooperative, providing special services to its members, the "co-op" moniker was dropped from much of its literature and advertising. Beginning in 2014 with the introduction of the REI Co-Op line of clothing, REI has publicly re-emphasized the cooperative aspect of its business model. In October 2015, the company launched a redesigned logo, which includes the word "co-op" for the first time since 1983.
There is a $20 lifetime membership fee. REI normally pays an annual dividend check to its members equal to 10% of what they spent at REI on regular-priced merchandise in the prior year. The refund, which expires on December 31 two years from the date of issue, can be used as credit for further purchases or taken as cash or check between July 1 and December 31 of the year that the dividend is valid.
REI members are allowed to buy returned/used/damaged goods at significant discounts at the REI Used Gear Sales. Other benefits of REI membership include discounts on rentals, deals on shipping charges, REI adventure trips, and shop services, as well as rock wall access at locations that feature indoor climbing walls. These locations include Flagship stores in Denver, Seattle, and Bloomington, MN, as well as the Pittsburgh South Side Works store. Members also receive exclusive coupons throughout the year for around 20% off of full-price items.
REI is headquartered in Kent, Washington. Its flagship stores are located in the Cascade neighborhood of Seattle; Bloomington, Minnesota; and in Denver, Colorado. It has distribution centers in Sumner, Washington and Bedford, Pennsylvania, with a third announced for July 2016 opening in Goodyear, Arizona.
REI employs over 11,000 people, most of them in the stores, many of whom are part-time. All employees have access to health care benefits. Employees receive discounts on merchandise, may be eligible for free or discounted outdoor classes, and also receive a "Yay day" pass, entitling them to spend up to 6 hours outdoors for pay.  REI has been ranked in the top 100 Companies to Work for in the United States by Fortune since 1998, which earned it a place in the Fortune "Hall of Fame". REI ranked as #8 in 2012, #69 in 2014, and #58 in 2015.
REI is a Washington corporation governed by a board of 13 directors, including the CEO. Directors serve for terms of one or three years. Board candidates are selected by the REI Board Nomination and Governance Committee. In earlier years, board elections were competitive elections with both board-nominated and self-nominated petition candidates. But in recent years, REI eliminated the opportunity for petition candidates and has only nominated as many candidates as open positions. Members are mailed a ballot, and nominees must garner 50% of returned ballots. Although REI is owned by its membership and the board ostensibly serves at the members' pleasure, there is no path to board membership without the approval of the Board Nomination and Governance Committee. For 2014, its chief executive officer has a pay of approximately $2,710,000.00 per year.
Although the majority of what it sells is brand-name merchandise from other companies, REI designs and sells its own private-label products under the REI, REI Co-Op, Evrgrn, and Novara brands.
While the Andersons originally established the co-op structure in order to secure reduced prices for its members, REI today models itself instead as a full-service retailer, with a web site, including order-on-the-web and free delivery to a nearby store, rather than as a low-price retailer. Local stores host free clinics on outdoor topics and organize short trips originating from the store to explore local hikes and cycling paths. To support local communities, REI offers meeting space free of charge to non-profit organizations, supports conservation efforts, and organizes yearly outdoor service outings. REI donates annually to conservation groups in the US. Its 2007 giving of $3.7 million represented about 0.28% of its $1.3 billion in gross sales. In 2006, REI engaged almost 170,000 people in 900,000 volunteer service hours and company-wide donations exceeded $4 million. They also send volunteers to help groups with cleaning up the environment, building new trails and teaching children the importance of caring for the environment.
In October 2015, REI announced that on Black Friday it will close all of its stores, halt the processing of orders on its website and give all employees a paid day off. Although Black Friday has been one of REI's top 10 days for annual sales, the company is abstaining from Black Friday and launching an #OptOutside campaign that asks people to describe how they are spending their time outside. REI is the first major retailer to forgo operations on Black Friday.
REI is a key sponsor of the Access Fund, a non-profit organization committed to keeping America's climbing areas open through education, environmental protection and advocacy.
In 2006, REI purchased 11 million kilowatt hours of green power, enough to offset twenty percent of its overall power consumption. This purchase placed REI on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's top ten list of retailers who purchased cleanly generated electricity. By 2007, REI promises to make its trips through REI Adventures carbon neutral through the purchasing of green power credits "Green Tags". REI Adventures states that it is the first US travel company to introduce this type of program. REI has pledged to be a climate neutral and zero waste to landfill company in 2020 focusing on the five areas of its business: green buildings, product stewardship, proper paper usage, reducing waste and energy efficiency.
REI has diversified its offerings into global adventure vacations through the REI Adventures branch which began in 1987. REI Adventures offers vacations for active travelers all over the world.
In 2006 REI started the Outdoor School in selected markets. The Outdoor School is a series of one day outings in the local area and in store classes. Offerings include mountain biking, road biking, kayaking, backpacking, rock climbing, outdoor photography, family hiking, snowshoeing and others. The current locations of the Outdoor School are the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Reno areas, the Los Angeles area, the San Diego area, Boston and New England area, New York Tri-State area, Philadelphia, Washington D.C./Virginia/Maryland area, Chicago area, Minneapolis area, Denver area, Atlanta area, Portland area, and Puget Sound area.
On June 11, 2015, REI bought Adventure Projects Inc., a Boulder-based company, founded by Nick Wilder and Andy Laakmann in 2005, which is best known for its climbing website, Mountain Project (MountainProject.com) with guides to more than 128,000 climbing routes across the world. It has since expanded by creating MTBProject.com a website for mountain bike trail maps, HikingProject.com for hiking trails, PowderProject.com for backcountry skiing trails and TrailRunProject.com for cross-country running trails.
- Academy Sports + Outdoors
- Bass Pro Shops
- Dick's Sporting Goods
- Eastern Mountain Sports
- Gander Mountain
- Legendary Whitetails
- Mountain Equipment Co-op, a comparable cooperative in Canada.
- Scheels All Sports
- Sportsman's Warehouse
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REI's board is legally responsible by statute, and its Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, for the overall direction of the affairs and the performance of REI. The board carries out this legal responsibility by establishing broad policy, and by monitoring management within the framework of these broad policy guidelines.
- 2007 Business Wire reporting of press release with figures Archived January 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
- REI: About REI
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