I’ll open my review of REI with this quote from the website:
What began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation’s largest consumer cooperative with more than three million active members. But no matter how large we grow, our roots remain firmly planted in the outdoors. Our passion for outdoor adventure is clear, whether you walk into one of our 100-plus stores, phone us, or visit the REI website.
By staying true to our roots, we’ve earned a place on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the rankings began in 1998. We work hard to earn our reputation for quality and integrity every day. Our commitment remains the same as when we started out in 1938: to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure.
REI was established in the Pacific Northwest. Even though it isn’t a homegrown store, I think of it as a local institution. It has several locations in the Denver Metro area, including the Denver “flagship” store, off 15th Street near Platte in the 1901 Denver Tramway building. (This picture was taken at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. Fifteenth Street is off to the right.) I both love and hate visiting that store. As you can see from this picture, it’s huge and has a large selection, but walking up the stairs always gives me the willies. Unfortunately, the women’s clothing section is located upstairs. Every time I go, I ask myself, “Do I really need to look at clothes? I could just stay on this floor and look at backpacks!” If I stay downstairs, I can sit and relax by the fireplace, or read in the bookstore (off to the left in this picture).
I’m a little more comfortable in the Boulder store, which is constructed around a raised central area designed for readings and meetings.
As a member of REI, I get a dividend every year (usually about $20). I can order something online and have it delivered to any store I want for free.
My main complaint about REI is that almost everything in the store is an import. You will find some products made in the USA, such as Patagonia clothing. Last year I found hats made in Boulder and bought two, one for me and one for Todd.
I can’t think of any other store in this area that has such a comprehensive selection of outdoor gear.