Mary Anderson, REI Co-Founder, Dies at 107

Mary Anderson, who, with her husband, founded the mountaineering importer in 1938 that became REI and helped it grow into the nation’s largest consumer cooperative without betraying its founding principles, died on March 27 in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. She was 107.

Avid climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, Mrs. Anderson and her husband, Lloyd, were unhappy with the ice axes available in the United States in the 1930s. So they began to import less expensive, high-quality ice axes from Austria, and these soon caught the eyes of their climber friends.

In 1938, 21 of those friends paid $1 each for a lifetime membership in the Andersons’ company, originally the Recreational Equipment Cooperative, which imported outdoor equipment for lower prices than it could be bought domestically.

Read the rest at the New York Times


Go to the GEO front page