Saturday, April 18, 2015

Event Report: Spring REI Garage Sale, Madison WI

REI is a pretty cool company. If you've been reading, I'm sure you've heard all the praise I have for their stores. They've got one of the most relaxed return policies I've ever seen. When I joined, their policy was "Return Anything. Forever. For Any Reason." and people abused that, so sadly now it's the still very cool "Return Anything, for a whole year. For any reason." Also, some locations rent gear as well. I believe the Madison location, one of the two within driving distance for me DOES do some rentals. And what they do with all this returned gear, and some of the rental stuff, is recoup a bit of money by selling them in their garage sale. This is an all sales-final, low prices, first-come-first-serve affair.

I'd never been to one of their garage sales before, and while we were hiking earlier this spring, Bob mentioned that he'd like to go to one. Middle of this week, I happened to look at the REI Event Calendar and I saw it. Their quarterly garage sale. We had to go. And so we went! Got up at 6am and drove down to madison, arriving a little after 8am. There was already a bit of a line, and we drove towards what we thought was the back of it. I mean, we saw people lined up against the front of the building, running from the corner towards the main doors. Thought "okay, they're queued up and the front is at the doors." Nope! The garage sale was actually out in their loading dock, and I had to dash to the back of the line.

There was a bunch of really cool stuff in great shape, and some interesting some-repairs-needed items. I saw two 2014 Gregory Baltoro packs at half the price they retailed for, one a 75L bag and one a 65L bag, both looked perfectly fine. Didn't need one, I've already got one. Saw a lot of camp bedding and insulation mats, tons of shoes, a bunch of puffy jackets and clothes items, various mobile electronics, gpses and headlamps and the like. I looked at two pairs of snowshoes, but they were still way up above my incidental purchase target price. Saw a pair of trekking poles similar to mine, but with the rubber grips, only $15, but there was a reason. One of them was missing the locking bolt that held them open.

So, what DID I get? Wound up finding a slightly used but otherwise identical pair of boots to the ones I already reviewed here. There was no tag on the boots, and I had to run down an employee to price them for me. Those were $29, and I paid around $125 for the brand new ones last year. Grabbed a pair of  trail runners with vibram soles as well, for less than half their retail price. Went up to the little tent town they had set up, and saw a lot of backpacking tents at half their usual cost, but what really caught my eye was a little REI Passage 2. $50 for a tent that sells for $160 retail. Previous owner said that the poles were bent. I looked them over good, Couldn't see even the slightest bend in the poles. ... Well, other than the natural arc of them while in use. My guess? somebody felt the need to give a reason for their return, and lied about the poles. If so, they have my thanks, because I made out like a bandit!

So, after I got more than I expected to leave with, they routed me into the main store, and I found myself a wide-brimmed hat like I've been wanting, and headed for the checkouts. Expect to see more in-depth reviews of this stuff soon. For now, I've got to head outside and set my new tent up, get some pictures of this stuff! Would I recommend checking out the REI Garage Sale? Oh yeah. Enthusiastically. I really wish I'd had been aware further in advance, and could have enticed a few friends who need gear into coming.

REI Passage 2 Tent (Used):

Vasque Breeze Boots:

Hat, Packed Tent, Boots:

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