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Serving Kent & All Surrounding Areas
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The beauty of the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier in Washington state has inspired countless artists, photographers and writers who come through Kent, Washington, but the mountains there also sparked the start of something big — Recreational Equipment Inc., better known today as REI, which is headquartered in Kent.
REI began during the Great Depression of the 1930s as an outgrowth of the passion that Lloyd and Mary Anderson shared for mountain climbing at a time when it was a not-so-typical outdoor activity. Not only did they climb themselves, but tutored and encouraged friends in enjoying the nearby mountains.
REI began in the smallest of ways, as an answer to a mountain-climbing need. The Andersons were looking for a less expensive way to buy an Austrian-made ice ax — something they had tried to order from Seattle-area ski shops, but were disappointed in the quality and the high prices.
They discovered they could order the ice axes they wanted directly from Austrian manufacturers at a fraction of the price. Their mountain-climbing circle of friends caught wind of the plan, and wanted in on it — and the Andersons realized they could order larger quantities of outdoor equipment at even lower costs.
That led to the official formation of REI in 1938 with 21 other Seattle-area climbing enthusiasts, each of whom paid $1 for a lifetime membership. REI’s first retail location was a shelf at a local co-op grocery store, and the Andersons ran the business from home, using their attic for storage.
REI continued quietly for several decades, and in the 1970s, was known as REI Co-op, focusing primarily on equipment for serious climbers, backpackers and mountaineering expeditions. In the 1980s, the company shifted toward family camping and branched out into kayaking, bicycling, and other outdoor sports, and currently remains focused on this market, as well as on sports casual clothing, although it still caters to serious climbers and outdoor adventurers.
The company moved to Kent in 1988 and now has 1,200 employees who work at its headquarters, in addition to satellite campuses in Bellevue and the Georgetown area of Seattle.
Today, despite all the changes and considerable growth, the company remains as a co-operative that provides special services to its members, and the membership fee is still good for a lifetime, although you do not have to be a member to shop at its stores. REI now operates 149 retail stores in 36 states in addition to Internet and catalog sales.
REI’s humble beginnings prove that having a passion for what you do can lead to exciting and unexpected developments, and tutors in Kent, Washington, can help students of all ages and backgrounds find what they’re passionate about, and also assist them in reaching their academic goals.
Getting Started Is Easy!Call us now: (253) 313-1879
Kent City Hall in Kent, Washington