REI was founded in 1938 in Seattle, Washington by Lloyd and Mary Anderson. Originally named REI Co-Op, the store later changed the name to simply REI, which stands for Recreational Equipment Incorporated.
REI is a consumers cooperative with a $20 lifetime membership fee. Members receive an annual dividend equal to 10 percent of the amount of purchases they have made during a calendar year. This dividend must be spent at an REI store.
The company specializes in outdoor recreational gear and accessories, sporting goods, footwear, outdoor apparel and active wear, along with camping gear. REI has more than 140 retail stores as well as selling online and via catalogs. The company had annual revenue of $2.2 billion in 2014.