REI Co-op was founded 80 years ago by 23 climbing friends in Seattle. Today, REI is the nation’s largest consumer co-op with a community of more than 17 million members and more than 150 stores across the country. The co-op is known nationwide for its outstanding customer service, best quality outdoor gear, and inspiring classes and trips.
As a co-op, REI is a different kind of company. REI puts purpose before profits – annually giving back nearly 70 percent of its profits to the outdoor community by investing in employees, members and nonprofit partners. This year, the co-op is investing $8.8 million in 400 nonprofits to steward more than 1,000 outdoor spaces. REI is also a leading voice for policies that assure all have ready access to outdoor opportunities.
The co-op believes deeply that a life outdoors is a life well-lived. REI has reinvented Black Friday, encouraging people to #OptOutside that day with family and friends instead of shopping. For the last four years, REI has shut its doors on the busiest retail day of the year and paid all 12,000 employees to spend the day doing what they love. In that time, 15 million people and 700 organizations have joined the #OptOutside movement and helped create a new holiday tradition.
Through its Force of Nature initiative, the co-op is showing that the outdoors can be the world’s largest level playing field – for all. In 2017, REI dedicated an entire year to putting women at the center of its storytelling, which included advertising, marketing, paid content partnerships and social media. The co-op’s Force of Nature initiative also included a $1 million investment in nonprofit organizations that ensure women are equally inspired and equipped to embrace a life outside. This year, the co-op has continued this effort with a focus on extended sizing and is working with brand partners to correctly design plus-size clothing.
As a co-op, we can act with the long-term interests of our members and society in mind,” said Wilma Wallace, REI vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. “We believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived. Whether it’s paying our employees to spend a day outside with their loved ones, taking a stand for public lands, or making it easier for our members to shop their values, this belief informs everything we do.”