Outdoors Blog

REI co-founder Mary Anderson dies at 107; she and husband started the co-op in 1938

One of the visionaries behind the popular chain of REI stores that supply outdoor enthusiasts died late last month at the age of 107.

Mary Anderson, a former Seattle schoolteacher, and her husband Lloyd were climbing enthusiasts. They started the buying co-op that became REI in 1938 as a way to get climbing equipment such as ice axes at more affordable prices than buying alone.

Mary retired in 1968, according to a post on the website for The Mountaineers, a group of which she became a member in 1929.

Today, REI has 6.3 million members, more than 140 retail stores and about 12,000 employees, according to The Seattle Times.

Read more about the life and contributions of Mary Anderson in this Seattle Times story.

REI’s Boise store is at 8300 W. Emerald St.