Recreational Equipment Incorporated, commonly known as REI, was founded by Lloyd and Mary Anderson in 1938 in Seattle, Washington. They had imported an ice axe from Austria and decided to set up a cooperative to help other people buy quality outdoor recreational equipment at reasonable prices.
At first the company was known as REI Co-op and was primarily focused on equipment for backpackers, climbers, and mountaineering expeditions.
In the 1980’s the company’s focus changed to family camping, kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports. Sport-casual clothing also became an important part of the product line at this time.
REI still operates as a co-op for its members, but this title has been dropped as it also does business with the general public whether they are members or not.
REI has repeatedly been ranked in the top 100 of Fortune’s Top 100 Companies to Work for in the United States, finally earning the #8 spot in the Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For: All Stars in 2013.
REI has 11.6 million members, over 11,000 employees, and had $1.93 billion in revenue in 2012.