Dear REI: Letters from Co-op Members

A collection of handwritten letters to REI Co-op, spread out on top of each other.

Co-op members know that REI is a different kind of company: Not only can you can find top-quality gear and a wide range of expertise to aid your outdoor adventures, but a visit to REI can also start lifelong family camping traditions, help you hike to more breathtaking destinations and maybe, if you’re as lucky as some members, introduce you to that special person. (Don’t worry: Expert store staff can help you buy a tent for two when the time’s right.)

Over the years, REI members and customers have sent in heartfelt handwritten notes (and emails, too) sharing how the co-op and wider REI community have touched their lives. You might be surprised to hear that quite a few letters arrive every month—they’re postmarked from all over the country, sent by all types of outdoor adventurers, from champion campers to budding backpackers and everything in between. Staff carefully read, record and then store handwritten cards and letters in the Co-op Living Archive, a collection of historically and culturally significant pieces of co-op history. (The archive includes more than 35,000 digitized photos, 410 reels of film and thousands of documents, including European travel logs written by REI co-founders Lloyd and Mary Anderson in the 1960s, when they were sourcing gear for the store.)

For this ongoing Dear REI series, we asked co-op historian Will Dunn to select some of his favorite recent letters from the REI community. Here are just a few of the member stories from our mailbag.

Garage Sale meet-cute

“Dear REI, We’re Jannet + David and we met in line at a REI Garage Sale in 2019! Five years later, we’re getting married. So grateful to our fave store for introducing us, + wanted to share the joyful news. WE love y’all forever! Hope for many more meet-cutes at REI.” Jannet + David

A part of our connection

A handwritten note on a piece of orange, star-shaped paper
“REI ♡ Felt silly not to send you love when you’ve been a huge part of us being connected. Thanks for everything!” – Briana and Griffin

S’more fun for us (and Pippin)

A handwritten note on lavender paper, with a drawing of a cartoon dog roasting marshmallows by a fire at camp.

“Hi, REI! We are getting married at the Red River Gorge this year & are huge fans of yours! You are our go to for supplying everything we need for our outdoor adventures. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a future REI in Louisville, KY, but for now we’ll see you at the Cincinnati location! Thanks for being an awesome company. 🙂– Rachel, Darren & Pippin

A date night destination

A handwritten note on a white card.

“Dear REI, We are both very outdoorsy people and it’s one of the things we believe is a staple of our relationship. We absolutely love going on dates wandering around your stores. Thanks for all the mems!” – B+D

Marriage is in tents

“We love your brand & can’t wait to go on more outdoor adventures once we’re married. We actually went to an REI store the morning we got engaged. 🙂 Just seemed like a normal day to me!” – Melissa

Thank you sooo much!

A handwritten note with a piece of masking tape at the top of it.

“We love REI so much! Like soooo much! REI is a date night for us! Love y’all!”

On shared hikes and lasting love

A short note written on a couple's monogrammed and personalized stationery.

“We met on a hike in Hawaii while bonding over our love of REI!!! 5 yrs later here we are! 😉– Maya & Jacob

That’s one way to approach romance (just a little climbing humor)

A handwritten note on a yellow note card

“Dear REI – Three years ago, Tom + I had our first date at a rock climbing gym, which perfectly set the tone of our relationship. We love taking our 3 dogs out hiking, camping, + exploring as many National Parks as we can. That’s why we wanted to symbolically invite you to our wedding – we’ll be fully outfitted in REI gear for our honeymoon in Yosemite!” – Ashlyn + Tom 🙂

A healthy obsession in Colorful Colorado

A handwritten card with drawn hearts, embellished with a decorative bow

“REI, You have become a new obsession for us after moving to Colorado. We are so supportive of REI as a company.”

Our first stop on the way to adventure

A note written in purple pen on lined paper, and featuring a hand-drawn REI logo at the top.

“Dear REI, We, as a couple, love to hike and camp together with our two dogs. You are our first stop for gear! Your customer service and helpful information is beyond compare. Thank you for your shared love of the outdoors and helping us have the best times of our lives.” – Kayla + Ryan

Bringing people together—outside

A note written on lined paper with a flower design on the side border.

“Dear Sir or Madam, REI will always hold a special place in our hearts, as you have provided gear for countless adventures during our dating life. There is nothing like the outdoors to bring people together, and REI has played a big role in bringing us close!” – Tyrel and Adi

The joy of introducing new members

A handwritten note on a cream-colored piece of paper

“As avid campers here in Michigan, REI is one of our all-time favorite places. We can always find something whenever we stop in. Any chance we get to introduce someone to you is like music to our ears. 🙂 We appreciate you!” – Kristy & Megan

Want to write to REI Co-op?

We love hearing from you. Whether you have a funny story from a camping trip, a thank you for a store employee or a love letter about a favorite piece of gear, drop us a line.

Address mail to REI Co-op at 1700 45th Street E, Suite 101, Sumner, WA 98390. Or email your story to stories@rei.com.

The post Dear REI: Letters from Co-op Members appeared first on Uncommon Path – An REI Co-op Publication.

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