Eighty years after Lloyd and Mary Anderson officially formed the REI Co-op with 21 of their fellow outdoor adventurers, the outdoor co-op is strong and healthy – today reporting a record $2.62 billion in sales in 2017 and bringing its community to 17 million members strong.
But at the co-op, success isn’t just measured in sales.
“As a co-op, we are a different kind of company,” says REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Our founders were bold enough to think about doing business differently, which is why we hold ourselves accountable to a ‘quadruple bottom line’: measuring not just how we do as a business, but how we drive impact for our employees, our members and society.”
Since its founding in 1938, REI has worked to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors, for all, through sustainable growth and reinvestment into the communities it serves. In 2017, nearly 70 percent of its profits went right back to the outdoor community, supporting employee retirement, helping fund trail work, returning dividends to its members and supporting nonprofits that get people into the outdoors.
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2017 was also a landmark year in the co-op’s decades-long commitment to advancing better ways of doing business. REI sourced 100 percent renewable power for all of its operations, fought for the preservation of national public lands, launched a breakthrough effort to promote gender equality in the outdoors, and inspired millions of Americans to spend Black Friday outside with their families.
“REI has always chosen the uncommon path. As we think about the co-op’s next 80 years, we will do more of the same, inspired by our unchanging belief that a life outdoors is a life well lived,” says Stritzke.
In an open letter published in its annual Stewardship Report today, Stritzke shared 2017 annual sales of $2.62 billion (a 2.55 percent increase over 2016). As a result, in 2017, REI was able to invest $8.8 million into more than 1,000 outdoor places, return $196.3 million to members through dividends and credit card rebates, and give $56.5 million to employees through profit-sharing and retirement.
REI also launched new Product Sustainability Standards that apply to each of the more than 1,000 brands sold at the co-op. The standards mark a major step forward in sustainability for the outdoor and retail industries, and make it easier for millions of outdoor enthusiasts to find and choose more sustainable products, contributing to the future health of the outdoors.
In his letter, Stritzke indicated that REI will continue to design new ways to connect people with outdoor experiences, citing the startling fact that the average American spends 95 percent of their life indoors, and highlighting that the choices made today will have a big impact on the future.
That’s why every purchase made at REI helps the co-op connect more people to a life well lived in the outdoors. REI supports more than 400 nonprofits across the country that build trails, connect people with nature and sustain vital outdoor resources like our parks, waterways, mountains and deserts.
REI also opened four new stores in 2017, in Dillon, Colorado; Winter Park, Florida; Burbank, California and Rochester, New York.
Product sustainability - Every piece of gear and clothing has an environmental and social footprint. That’s why REI is working with its brand partners to raise the bar on sustainability and launching Product Sustainability Standards that not only elevate practices within supply chains but also make it easier for you, our members, to move this mission forward by giving you more sustainable products to choose from. Read more.
Force of Nature - In 2017, REI committed to making the outdoors the world’s largest level playing field by putting women front and center in its storytelling, its partnerships and its business. The co-op hosted 2,700 events and experiences, reaching 48,000 women, and invested $1 million in 29 nonprofits dedicated to connecting women to the outdoors. Read more.
Public lands - REI believes it’s an American right to roam in our public lands, and in 2017 led hundreds of outdoor companies in a nonpartisan effort to defend these lands. The co-op also inspired and equipped thousands of its members—of all political persuasions—to share their love of these iconic outdoor places directly with the federal government. Read more.
#OptOutside - Over the past three years, the co-op has created a national movement that’s inspired more than 15 million Americans, plus hundreds of companies, to join spend the day outdoors on Black Friday. In 2017 alone, REI tracked more than 8.2 million engagements with #OptOutside. Together REI and its partners are helping reshape what the holidays mean to American families. Read more.