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The_Truth
04-30-2011, 13:25
I know about REI from my bike riding days. There is no store close to me but I did visit a store once when visiting a friend.

My question is for those who frequently shop from REI, do you find the rebate offsets the slightly higher (in my opinion) prices.

I'm aware of the return policy and how easy it is.

My question is whether the rebate comes close to offsetting the higher prices.

risingsun
04-30-2011, 14:15
Depends on how you would shop otherwise. If you do a lot of comparison shopping online or look for coupon codes, you can always beat REI, not even counting tax or shipping, which then push the REI prices higher. Furthermore, the dividend doesn't come back to you if you buy an item that is on sale.

Great store. Great selection. Great people. Awesome place to go in and touch & feel a piece of gear. But is you are scrimping or can be patient and wait for an item to go on sale somewhere, they will almost never have the best price. I shop REI on a lot of smaller things, but rarely make a big purchase with them unless it's on sale for 20-30% off or more.

As for the return policy - I have hardly ever returned gear. There are so many online resources out there now to read about what I plan to purchase, I almost always know about what I am getting before it even arrives. It's nice to know that it is there, but it is not a big selling point for me to shop @ REI.

Just my 2 cents...

BadAndy
04-30-2011, 14:19
Well, the yearly dividend (if that's what you're referring to) is roughtly 10% of your non-clearance/sale purchases. So, if you can find the same items for more than 10% cheaper, I would say no. You do the math.

That being the case, I still frequent REI, especially when I am researching something and want to get hands on some different stuff rather than just reading reviews and seeing pictures. Plus, thier clearance deals and sales are often very good and the return policy is econd to none.

RWBlue
04-30-2011, 14:33
For the most part, no it is not the most cost effective place, but I find stuff there, that I can not find anywhere else.

garlic08
04-30-2011, 15:06
I've never been much of an REI customer, though I'm a member and have their credit card. I lived in Seattle for a while and it was almost required to be a member. An older climbing friend of mine was real proud of his three-digit member number. Mine has seven. Since leaving Seattle, I've only been there a handful of times. The joke around here is that REI means "Really Expensive Inside", or I hear the employees say it means "Return Every Item".

Since converting to a UL hiking style which uses mainly homemade or cottage industry gear, I have even less need for REI. I even had them take me off their catalog mailing list. I just get the yearly rebate from my credit card, and wait until July to cash it out via mail.

For more mainstream pursuits and quality clothing, they look like a pretty good store.

TallShark
04-30-2011, 15:06
if youre savy, REI can be cheap

sheepdog
04-30-2011, 15:15
good customer service is worth the price

Penguin
04-30-2011, 16:30
REI is a good spot to buy a Platypus bag, but their equipment tends to be heavier then what many hikers choose to take on the trail with them. Check out other small gear companies that are cheaper, and carry better lighter equipment: zpacks.com, gossamergear.com, tarptent.com, westernmountaineering.com Also build your own stove to save money.

THough the REI return policy is out of this world, and they have lifetime warranties on their stuff. You could buy a sleeping bag there and keep returning it for new clean bags indefinitely or until they kick you out of the club.

trailangelbronco
04-30-2011, 16:33
Everyone returns stuff. That was the original meaning of the REI co-op. Only buy something once and then turn it in for new every few years. I just turned in three year old boots, all wore out and got new ones.

BradMT
04-30-2011, 16:34
Been an REI member since 1975. Great Co. I don't buy from them exclusively, but their free shipping to our neighborhood store, free shipping on items over $75.00 to our house, 10% yearly rebate, 20% off member coupons, best return policy of any Co. in the business... all that adds up to a company I love to deal with.

The_Truth
04-30-2011, 16:45
Thanks for the input. I really wish I lived close to one. Think I'll give them a go. I'm visiting a friend in Houston in a few weeks and I'll check out the one there.

tuswm
04-30-2011, 17:12
NO but its worth being a member and going to attic sales.

Toolshed
04-30-2011, 17:22
I think of REI as the new place that I shop, but it's been over 20 years now since I started: going there....LOL...
Anyway, if you are sharp you can usually get deals. Pay attention. watch REI-Outlet. Try to get to the attic or their garage sales if you can.
What I like is my purchase history is online for many years. I Can go back and see what I bought and at what price. It also makes it easy if I return something.
Speaking of returns, I usually don't return much but I wanted to return a tent I bought in 2002 and then forgot to. It was about 5 years later (2007 or 2008) when we were moving that I found the tent. still brand new. I took it in, they looked me up and reimbursed me in full on the spot.

P.S. I think Rising Sun meant to say you don't earn a dividend on sale items, as REI will always pay you any dividends you earn, if you decide not to spend it on gear.

bigcranky
05-01-2011, 09:51
What higher prices? REI sells gear at MSRP, just like every other local outfitter. Sure, some online retailers sell for a slightly lower price, but you pay shipping and can't try on the gear ahead of time. (Unless you try it on at a local retailer then order online. But that makes you an @sshole.)

The best way to shop at REI, IMHO, is to check the sale racks on a regular basis. Or order from their outlet online. Or get an REI VISA card and use it for everything, then get a huge dividend and buy something cool. (Of course, you have to pay it off every month or there is no benefit.)

Wise Old Owl
05-01-2011, 10:03
1. Amazon.com occationally beats them on price.
2. hard to find gear is easy to get at REI
3. Ultralight stuff is available - just not obvious
4. If Rei doens't have it the Internet does, you just have to look
5. Blowes EMS away as an outfitter.

STICK
05-01-2011, 10:36
I like REI. If there is something I want that I can get from them, I usually try to get it there simple because I know that if it tears up I can return it. Right off the top of my head, my family tent, Helium and NeoAir are probably the biggest items I have purchased from them. Lots of other little items though. I have not returned anything yet, but I believe I am going to make the drive and return my ExOfficio Air Strip Light shirt that I just got. It simply does not fit me. I can mail it back in, but then I would have to pay for shipping and then wait for it to be reapplied to my card. I can just go in and return it and either get my money back then or get something else in return.

But now that I have started paying more attention to cottage manufactures, it is becoming harder and harder to find things I want at REI...

double d
05-01-2011, 11:58
REI is the best outdoor gear store in the country. Prices, return policy, rebates, refunds, etc., you can't beat them. Also, you can order directly online from them and have it mailed to your home.

skinewmexico
05-01-2011, 12:13
Since converting to a UL hiking style which uses mainly homemade or cottage industry gear, I have even less need for REI. I even had them take me off their catalog mailing list. I just get the yearly rebate from my credit card, and wait until July to cash it out via mail.

For more mainstream pursuits and quality clothing, they look like a pretty good store.

+1. Member since 1973, but they don't have much of what I use any more, and it's rarely made in the USA.

Toolshed
05-01-2011, 12:26
If you are a member, you are an owner and you do have a vote each year on officers!!!!!

Jim Adams
05-01-2011, 13:36
I have never considered REI to be expensive...usually find their products to be priced competitively with others.
OTOH, The deals that they offer can be great. Yesterday was a "friends and family" day meaning that if you stop into or order regularly at an REI they have this day about twice a year. You get a discount code to use for the one day only. $199 total and less will get you a 20% discount...over $200 total will get you a 25% discount but it doesn't cover bicycles or watercraft.....
....yesterday I ordered a Patagonia Ultralite Down Shirt ( on sale from $199 down to $179) and a SmartWool MidWeight underwear bottoms priced at $75 and with the code my total was $177. I got the shirt at a great price and the pants free.

geek

Dogwood
05-01-2011, 13:49
I'm a gear head. I think I hike alot(1500 -3500 miles per yr for the last 6 yrs). I use my gear alot. I'm an ULer. I buy much of my gear at outdoor trade shows and from UL cottage industry companies. I don't like paying everyday retail prices for BIG ticket hiking items, and often do not. Although, I do buy some gear at REI(shoes, food, maps, books, some clothing, socks, stuff sacks, gear repair supplies, gear cleaning products, replacement gear hardware(biners, micro bungee, micro cord locks, buckles, ropes, etc for example), because of the convenience of having so much under one roof, they have items I would have to order on line, they have REI brand less expensive gear than some comparable higher priced more brand name recognized gear, I do get personalized service, and MUCH PREFER reviewing gear first in person before I buy. I will not buy shoes on line unless I have first previewed them in person. Although, many of the bigger ticket ihiking tem brands I use, REI simply does not carry, IN STORE, they have shipped in gear for me, not usually advertised or in-store, at some very attractive prices!

Different branches have different items but I like the books and maps section for example, much of it not advertised on the net. This is especially helpful for localized hikes/outdoor adventures when obtaining quad maps, regionally specific books, and other pre-hike planning maps/info.

I don't think REI is particularly high or higher priced!!! I look for sales or get bulk discounts on things like food. Of course, the rebate check is a marketing tool, but I don't usually look at it as off setting a supposedly higher price. For me, I look at it as icing on the cake.

I try to be a loyal patron to outfitters and will cultivate realationships there when the store carries items I use and THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE is above avg. REI fits the bill! For example, at one of the REI's in North Carolina one of the reps, who knew I had recently dropped some do re mi in their store, discreetly brought to my attention an ArcTeryx Soft Shell that had a MSRP of around $350, but had just been returned with NO defects. Got it for $100! I think REI REALLY seeks to satisfy its customers! At least me! What's that worth?

Some of the California stores, the Denver, and Seattle store are quite big holding a wide selection of gear. These stores have some seasonal sales, that, if you get their early enough, you can obtain gear at deep discounts, sometimes more than 50 % off MSRP!

For me, I treat shopping at REI like shopping at anywhere else, whether it be for hiking or non-hiking items - no matter what advertising says no one place has it all or at the lowest prices across the board!

YES, I do like their no hassle member return policy, I regard it as one the best in the hikling world, BUT I DO NOT ABUSE IT! I also like that I can almost always have an REI associate provide personalized service. Even though I may know a lot about gear I certainly don't know everything. No one does. Those associates sometimes help me fill thiose gaps. What's that worth?

If you go to the REI in Reno on Monday Apr 30 and bump into a tall lean hiker looking type buying some maps, socks, and isobutane, who is willing to get into long winded hiking stories, it will be me!

Dogwood
05-01-2011, 14:39
On Mon May 2. Who cares?

Regarding those who also are ULers. Like someone said if you look for UL gear REI DOES have some UL gear, perhaps not UL cottage industry gear like Gossamer Gear, MLD, ULA, Anti-Gravity Gear, SMD, ZPacks, or larger gear manufacturers merchandising UL/Lite wt gear like WM, Feathered Friends, Mont Bell, Innov, just to name a few. Don't know any other outfitter that carries all those either! IMO, Prolite does one of the most comprehensive jobs though of carrying UL/lite wt gear AND they periodically have sales and close-outs offering some excellent UL gear at excellent discounts!

This isn't always the case, but some UL cottage industry companies simply can't produce enough product to supply all/most/some of the REI stores. Some of the UL gear is made to order and I'm not so sure REI is set -up for that either.

I think when ULers answer the OP's question referring to what REI carries that they keep in mind UL gear/UL hiking is not just about the BIG ticket(Big 3 or 4) UL items!

sherrill
05-01-2011, 22:16
Returns and Exchanges International (told to me by an REI employee)

Seriously folks, be savvy with what you want and competitive pricing on it, you'll find REI is usually there on some things and not on others. But any store is.

My wife is a very picky shopper. She made several trips to a local REI to try out boots and was waffling between two. Each time, a completely different REI employee told her that no matter what her choice was, take them out and put them through the paces. No matter what condition they were in, if she didn't like them, bring them back.

It's because of that policy that we shop there and are members.

BTW, while in Asheville to put the new boots to the test up Mt. Mitchell, we stopped in at the local discount shoe store.

They had the same boot there.

REI was cheaper.

Dogwood
05-02-2011, 02:33
That's a new nice REI in a rather nice area Sherrill. My brother lives two blocks away.

There are several outfitters in Asheville, but the one I often get the best discounts on is at the Diamond Brand outlet store adjacent to the reg store in Arden NC. The outlet side has DEEPLY DISCOUNTED GEAR! The regular store has GREAT GREAT GREAT certified shoe experts!!!

nufsaid
05-02-2011, 06:46
Everyone returns stuff. That was the original meaning of the REI co-op. Only buy something once and then turn it in for new every few years. I just turned in three year old boots, all wore out and got new ones.

I am an REI member and would never consider returning boots that I had used for three years and worn out.

TallShark
05-02-2011, 11:47
I am an REI member and would never consider returning boots that I had used for three years and worn out.

I was wondering if this was frowned upon, seems like they stand by their crazy good return policy but I'm sure they don't like when people completely wear something out then bring it in. :-?

bigcranky
05-02-2011, 13:33
I was wondering if this was frowned upon, seems like they stand by their crazy good return policy but I'm sure they don't like when people completely wear something out then bring it in. :-?


Well, yeah, as a member/owner of the REI co-op, I sure as heck frown on this behavior. I have plenty of well-used or broken gear that I could return for a full refund, but I have something called "ethics." I may be blue blazing hiker trash, but my momma taught me right.

TheYoungOne
05-04-2011, 14:15
I have an REI and a EMS store close by, and I really don't see a major difference in price. Basic stuff like say, Mountain House meals or and MSR steel pot the price is almost the same across the board whether you go to REI, Dick' Sporting Good, Cabelas, etc. REI's clothing is a bit pricey, as well as some items you cannot find in the usual sporting goods stores. Sure I could get a Big Agnes Seedhouse Tent for $40 cheaper online, but I save shipping just walking in the store and picking it up.

The big thing for me is the sales, the member dividens, and the customer service. My member dividen was just $33 this year, but they threw in a 20% coupon for good measure, that got me Ti pot for FREE. Memorial day is approaching, and last year I got tons of stuff at 30% and 40% off. EMS has sales too, but it usually in the 20% range. Its like everything else , you just got to be a savvy shopper. Watch for sales, check the clearence racks, and check the outlet portion of the website.

Customer service with REI and EMS is outstanding. I hate going to a regular sporting goods store, and ask a question about their hiking and camping equipment and they look at you like you have two heads.

hike500
05-07-2011, 12:45
But now that I have started paying more attention to cottage manufactures, it is becoming harder and harder to find things I want at REI...[/QUOTE]

you hit it right on the head Stick:

Packs- ULA
Bags- FF or WM
Tents- Tarptent or Six Moon Design
Just to name a few.

I guess I am tired of buying everything twice, in my opinion REI needs to start going in the direction above if they want to keep up. Like Stick said, they don't sell what you are eventually going to want!

TAS
05-12-2011, 15:14
REI, is just like anyother store, you have to shop them against others, sometime they are great somestimes not so.

Shopping for gear gives you something to do at work.

John

pirogue
05-14-2011, 00:21
Been an REI member since 1975. Great Co. I don't buy from them exclusively, but their free shipping to our neighborhood store, free shipping on items over $75.00 to our house, 10% yearly rebate, 20% off member coupons, best return policy of any Co. in the business... all that adds up to a company I love to deal with.

You joined at 12 or 13? Your membership number must be below 2 mil. Mine is just over 2 mil.

pirogue
05-14-2011, 00:27
After you go in the Seattle and Denver stores, some locations leave you wondering why bother with such a small store.

BradMT
05-15-2011, 13:31
You joined at 12 or 13? Your membership number must be below 2 mil. Mine is just over 2 mil.

I joined at age 14 when I started backpacking in earnest. I turn 50 next month.

My REI# is under 492,000...

Any more questions? :D

BradMT
05-15-2011, 13:32
Actually under 482,000...

Old Boots
05-15-2011, 13:51
My experience is that you get what you pay for in life. If you find REI a bit more expensive than some discount or cottage industry dealers, as an REI member I find the quality of the merchandise, liberal return policy, the activities they sponsor which encourage outdoor experiences, and the knowledgeable staff is worth every cent I pay and more.

trailangelbronco
05-15-2011, 14:49
I buy cothes and boots at REI, as a member. I often pay much more than other stores would charge, gladly.

Yesterday, I took a four year old pair of boots in and got full store credit back, used it to upgrade to a brand new pair of Oboz boots. I also returned an old wore out down jacket for the new model, free of charge, no questions asked.

REI mebership was created so that members would only have to buy something once. It is not ripping the store off, that is why they started the co-op. Buy something once, trade it in for new when it wears out.
So, while othr stores may be cheaper the day you buy something, REI rules five years down the road when you can trade in that old item for the new model, free of charge.

slow
05-16-2011, 01:40
I buy cothes and boots at REI, as a member. I often pay much more than other stores would charge, gladly.

Yesterday, I took a four year old pair of boots in and got full store credit back, used it to upgrade to a brand new pair of Oboz boots. I also returned an old wore out down jacket for the new model, free of charge, no questions asked.

REI mebership was created so that members would only have to buy something once. It is not ripping the store off, that is why they started the co-op. Buy something once, trade it in for new when it wears out.
So, while othr stores may be cheaper the day you buy something, REI rules five years down the road when you can trade in that old item for the new model, free of charge.

You my friend are UNREAL to even post this.:mad::mad::mad::mad:

trailangelbronco
05-16-2011, 02:27
I have been a member for many many years. Elected Board members of REI do the very same thing.

buzzamania
05-16-2011, 03:36
Great customer service is worth something. Great advice, workshops and garage sales.

BradMT
05-16-2011, 08:48
REI mebership was created so that members would only have to buy something once. It is not ripping the store off, that is why they started the co-op. No, that's NOT why REI memberships were created, and yes it is stealing...


Buy something once, trade it in for new when it wears out.
So, while othr stores may be cheaper the day you buy something, REI rules five years down the road when you can trade in that old item for the new model, free of charge.

You're an a-moral thief.

****ing pathetic...

10-K
05-16-2011, 09:08
I buy cothes and boots at REI, as a member. I often pay much more than other stores would charge, gladly.

Yesterday, I took a four year old pair of boots in and got full store credit back, used it to upgrade to a brand new pair of Oboz boots. I also returned an old wore out down jacket for the new model, free of charge, no questions asked.

REI mebership was created so that members would only have to buy something once. It is not ripping the store off, that is why they started the co-op. Buy something once, trade it in for new when it wears out.
So, while othr stores may be cheaper the day you buy something, REI rules five years down the road when you can trade in that old item for the new model, free of charge.

You would think something like this would be on their website somewhere if it were ok.

I mean, the entire world would become REI members if you could replace gear for free.

I go through a $100 pair of running shoes every month. I could be persuaded to switch to something REI carries if it meant I never had to buy running shoes again......

10-K
05-16-2011, 09:15
Or, to look at it another way - what if everyone did that?

BradMT
05-16-2011, 09:20
You're being too kind... that kid should have his face on the Post Office wall...

aufgahoban
05-16-2011, 14:13
I have been an REI member for about 10 years. The first big purchase I made was a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2 tent. The first time I put it up, I noticed one of the poles was bent. Not much, but just enough to throw the tent off to one side a bit. I took it back and exchanged it. Still have/use the tent to this day. About 4 years later I got my daughter a tent. She used it on one trip and couldn't deal with the condesation, so we returned it. She tried a different model. Still way to much condesation. So she returned that one as well and ended up making her own Ray Gardine tarp. Shortly thereafter I got a letter from REI saying I had returned too many tents and to please do my tent shopping elsewhere in the future. I responded and explained everything and never heard from them again. I continued shopping there because I assumed this was an error on their part. Last week we went by to see if they could send my daughters Leki poles in for service. (they were cracked, and would be replaceable under Leki's warranty) They told her 'we don't do that anymore' and offered no further suggestions. Their customer service use to be stellar. Now, not so much. They didn't ask what was wrong with them or anything. I'm rather bummed about this though, because I love shopping in the store, trying things on and comparing them etc. Maybe they have to get tougher because of all the abuse on the return policy, but I think my returns were pretty legit.

inabag
05-16-2011, 16:13
I work walking distance to an REI....which is dangerous. Even though I consider myself a UL backpacker, REI does have good value in things like clothing, food, and the occasional good deal. I have a membership that gives the 10% of course, but I also have an REI Visa with no annual fee that gives an additional 5%. So I figure that the 15% rebate to buy whatever at the end of the year + the great return policy make it worth it for the occasional purchase. Plus cheaper options on the in store courses are nice - I am planning to hit up some of the map and compass courses this summer.

10-K
05-16-2011, 18:23
I am planning to hit up some of the map and compass courses this summer.

I took one a few months ago. Very good coverage of the basics.

Dogwood
05-16-2011, 19:43
Originally Posted by inabag http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/wb_style/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=1160412#post1160412)
I am planning to hit up some of the map and compass courses this summer.

I took one a few months ago. Very good coverage of the basics.

Ditti! I took a basic compass course at the Marlton NJ REI and found the same thing. Though what I experienced could vary depending on location (size of class, teacher's ability, etc)

TexasEd
05-20-2011, 17:25
Their anniversary sale is on now.

I got a refund on my Deuter ACT Lite that I bought with a 20% off coupon that was on sale (no coupon) for 25% off.

Of course you can also use your 20% coupon on a regular priced item.