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Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)

Recreational Equipment, Inc., often abbreviated as REI, is an outdoor gear and apparel retailer based in Kent, Wash. REI is a consumer co-operative with 19 million lifetime members and 165 locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C. The concept for REI began in 1935, when Seattle-area outdoorspeople decided to pool funds in order to purchase outdoor equipment at lower group prices. The co-op was formally founded in 1938, and the membership fee was set at $1 to allow anyone who desired to join. Lifetime membership today is $20, which includes an annual dividend calculated as a percentage of purchases the member has made that year. REI has over time shifted its business strategy to cater to a more casual consumer base than its more hardcore early patrons.
Ali Vagnini—Coutesy of REI