Fig. (2) REI founders Mary and Lloyd Anderson.
Fig. (2) REI founders Mary and Lloyd Anderson. (Tim Tomkinson)

Anderson, Lloyd and Mary

Fig. (2) REI founders Mary and Lloyd Anderson.
The Editors

Founders of the Recreational Equipment Co-op (REI), which the couple started in their West Seattle home in 1938 as a way to help climber friends gain access to cheaper ice axes and harnesses by ordering bulk gear from Europe. The two rented shelf space in a nearby grocery before eventually opening their first store, in 1944, near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. There are now more than 140 retail stores in the U.S., including a new flagship just off Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle, and REI sells more than $2 bil­lion worth of out­door equipment each year. It’s one of the top 100 sporting-goods retailers in the country yet still holds firmly to its cooperative roots. The Andersons never wanted a private company. “REI is a co-op, and it oughta stay that way,” Lloyd was once quoted as saying. “I never thought a man should make money off his friends.” Lloyd died in 2000 at 98; Mary, still living near Seattle, is 105.

From Outside Magazine, August 2015 Lead Photo: Tim Tomkinson