Pros: deals on gear
I won't speak to working in the stores. I'm sure that's dependent on the particular store manager, but I doubt it's a good job. Considering what the corporate employees make and the cost-cutting measures going on there, kiddies, seriously, don't look to REI as a place where you will rise up from the store floor. It just ain't gonna happen.
I don't know if this company ever promoted on merits, but it suffered from an old boys network of the original co-op founders for a long time. At least in that context, work/life balance and getting outside to actually use the gear was a consideration. Now, its just lip service.
This company doesnt sell stock because it's a co-op. Well, their burn rate of wasted money is pretty severe, so it's a miracle that what's coming in can even begin to cover it. However, do they look to the inefficiency of bad managers? No, of course, they look to chopping off employees who have any time and vacation accrued.
Corporate REI suffers from a rotting internal culture where the directors aren't interested in creativity, but just beating their corporate employees until good ideas come out, and then they cherry-pick those ideas, repackage them as their own, as well as ones they get from external creative houses, which they overspend on to an insane degree. They overspend on lavish parties and travel with these big-name design and architectural firms while they bleed their own employees dry. Serious ageism is going on, even though many of the corporate managers are not spring chickens, but Gen-Xers. The seriously old people are long gone. You won't make retirement – more... at this company, no matter how much they sell you on it. Forget that.
Is this the typical corporate story? Fine. Just don't think REI is any different than Cabela's or Nordstrom's. You don't want a job in retail, period. Get a skill that puts you in the driver's seat, because you won't get trained in anything at REI that doesn't put you into another horrific retail environment where margins are thin. They will work you to the bone doing the most inane tasks. – less