There aren’t many companies out there nowadays that make you feel like you belong to their family. But REI somehow magically seems to do that. Whether it’s the accommodating staff, the co-op structure, or just their earth-loving mentality, this family feeling I only get whenever I shop here.
REI seems like the only big corporation with a presence in the midwest that actually cares about the environment and our effect on the planet. When I walk into their stores, I wish for backpacking, adventure, mountainous terrain, and solitude in nature. In my mind, I can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and slip into the dreams of a new, spectacular journey into nature. I can sense REI wants all of us to get out and enjoy nature, and do our part to preserve it for the future.
REI has an exceptionally trained staff that’s always helpful. Sometimes they go above and beyond to assist a customer. In addition, stores always seem to be well staffed, even around the holiday season.
Another great perk of shopping at REI is their 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are unhappy with your purchase, you can return it for a refund or exchange within one year of purchase. It’s an excellent return policy that keeps me coming back to their store. In addition, it’s so fulfilling to know that you are buying high quality gear that is made fairly, and is almost always environmentally friendly.
REI charges customers a one time fee of $20 to join its co-op. Once you join, you are considered a member. You’ll receive coupons, sale notices, discounts on their shop services (cycling, skiing, snowboarding, and more), and discounts on REI trips and classes. In addition, members receive an annual dividend in March of approximately 10% of what was spent on eligible items from the previous year. Eligible items usually are full price items. This annual dividend is their gift back to you, as it is your share of the co-op’s annual profit.
REI is more than a store since you can travel with them, learn from them, or even clean up the planet with them. REI Adventures offers trips all over the world, anytime of the year, and offering numerous options for activities. Family trips, holiday destinations, and more are all offered here. REI also offers classes, outings and events in your area. Simply type your zip code in on their web page and find fun classes and events near you.
Feeling like saving the planet? So does REI. The company participates in stewardship programs to clean trails, restore natural areas, and more. They even offer volunteer vacations, where participants protect fragile ecosystems, maintain trails, cut vegetation, and work to preserve our natural lands.
Here are a few additional facts about REI that I found on their website:
- They believe in and use fair labor for the manufacturing of its private label brands.
- They are committed to reducing the environmental impact of their business, including how they package their products. Since 2007, they’ve advanced their efforts from simply reducing the weight of packages of REI Private Brands to optimizing their design. The most critical area of improvement is creating clear, consistent and transparent messaging about the environmental impacts of their packaging, including recyclability claims and preferred end-of-life options for those packages.
- Beginning in 2016, all private label down insulation will be RDS-certified. The standard ensures that the down used in their products will come from ethically treated fowl.
- They have sustainable packaging guidelines to encourage and educate our vendors.
- REI has an ambitious target for using fabrics certified to the bluesign standard (the world’s leading system for managing the environmental impacts of fabric manufacturing)
- The outdoor company has also given millions of dollars to non-profit organizations that share in their mission of creating and improving access to outdoor spaces across the United States, and increasing outdoor participation. In 2014, REI invested $4.6 million to more than 300 local and national nonprofit organizations for preservation and restoration projects in 600 locations.
REI as a corporation cares about taking care of the planet and keeping it sustainable for years to come. It has a much bigger conscious than most businesses have. They want us to leave the planet better than how we found it. Not many companies here in the midwest feel the same way I do, but I’m glad REI does. I wish more midwest companies embraced green living, eco-friendly practices and sustainability. At least I know I have a friend in REI.