The Anniversary Sale is REI's biggest sale of the year. What that means is that REI's buyers put a little more oomph into this sale than any other, which is why you'll find discounts now through May 30 on such popular items as the BOB strollers, men's Keen Newport H2 sandals and the REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent.
While the sale is a pretty big deal, the word "anniversary" carries a lot of meaning for the co-op, too. REI's long history as a consumer cooperative goes back to 1938 when a Seattle mountaineer, Lloyd Anderson, was trying to find a reliable ice axe at a decent price. After having no success locally, he eventually found one in an Austrian gear catalog for a mere $3.50, shipping included. When word of his find spread among the local climbing community, Lloyd and his wife Mary (shown camping, below) and 21 others got together to form Recreational Equipment Cooperative to make available more gear for their outdoor activities.
Lloyd and Mary went on to lead REI for decades to come. Over the years, the annual spring sale developed into an institution. When backpacking became a craze in the late 1960s, folks even started camping out in front of the old REI store in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood to be first in line for these sales. Are there any REI members reading this who remember those days?
Now, at 101 years old, Mary Anderson is still the living inspiration behind REI's "Anderson Awards," recognition that is given annually to REI's top employees. The little co-op from Seattle that she and Lloyd pioneered has steadily grown to be a nationwide retailer of gear for a variety of human-powered outdoor recreation.
So, with Lloyd and Mary in mind, here's hoping you find the time to enjoy some outdoor recreation this Memorial Day weekend. What plans do you have for your gear?
Below: The REI Capitol Hill (Seattle) store and employees in the 1960s.