@pageeightstudio REI was established before there was any competition. In the 1950s, when I was introduced to rock climbing, there were only four stores in the US where you could buy carabiners - two in Colorado, one in California, and REI in Seattle. We ordered by mail, an activity at which REI excelled. There was also their excellent guarantee and their wonderful dividend. That, plus the cooperative aspect of their business - profit was not the main business objective - gave REI a different look to the consumer. And customer service has always been a high priority.
I mentioned in another post how we mailed a check to REI while they air mailed climbing boots for one of our party prepping for a climbing trip to the Mexican volcanoes (1961). Just one example of good customer service.
Things really got rolling when REI opened stores outside Seattle. I entered my first REI in Los Angeles in 1985, impressed with the huge inventory and knowledgeable sales staff.
I, too, am happy to patronize an establishment that supports sensible outdoor recreation, in all its many aspects, not just climbing and hiking, and that gives regularly to organizations that support preservation of outdoor spaces.
REI - Live long and prosper!!
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.