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Anne Elk
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 8:03 pm 
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Maybe only "Boomers" will be able to relate ...back to the REI-on-Pine-St days.

I should say at the outset: I'm a low-impact consumer, ie, not much of a shopper.  Only when necessity demands, unless it's a bookstore, and even then it's usually the well-curated used ones.  So I set out for the REI flagship store a few days before Xmas, having decided that my REI-brand cotton/polyester turtlenecks needed replacement.  The gals can probably remember - they came in a rainbow of colors, at reasonable prices.  They were one of those REI "staples" you could count on being there, year after year.  I couldn't find anything remotely like them in the racks.  Asked an "older" salesperson.  "Oh, we did have a few turtlenecks earlier in the season, but I know the ones you mean...we don't carry those anymore. Try Old Navy or The Gap."

<Sigh>.  So I wandered over to the sale racks just for the heck of it.  OMG!  Even most of the sale prices were kinda stratospheric. (Did I mention I don't shop often?) Everything's now a fashion plate "brand name" design or made of super-space age material, which I guess justifies the price.  But $25 for a cotton T-shirt?  Seriously?   huh.gif  I don't expect Wal-Mart prices (and I don't shop there), but REI gives the impression that the outdoors is now mostly for the well-heeled. 

So did I buy anything?  Yeah - another item needing replacement: a hooded rain jacket, a reasonably priced REI-brand at $150, on sale for $100. And a very nice $14 v-neck T-shirt.

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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Ski
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 9:27 pm 
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^ one more reason why online retailers are killing brick-and-mortar stores, especially at malls where their overhead costs require them to charge crazy prices.

and while REI was a niche marketer originally, they're all over the map now - trying to be all things to all people. I recall Eddie Bauer's downtown Seattle store doing that in the late 1980s. it didn't work out too well for them.

my first trip to REI was before it was "REI". Tony was the only one with a membership, so all 5 of us piled into his van and we drove up to buy a Svea stove. wood floors. weird smells.

the hot cocoa on the next hike was great, and we managed to do it without setting anything ablaze. dizzy.gif

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Cyclopath
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 9:46 pm 
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If I'm wrong I'd love to know it; those name brand things you mentioned seem to be the same price everywhere.  A Patagucci jacket is $600 at REI and also at the online retailers.  Unless you catch a sale.  Even Walmart has the same prices for the same item.

As an REI member, you get 10% back every spring, though, so they're actually a little cheaper than a lot of the competition.

For a lot of things, you don't need the North Face version.  And down is just as warm in last year's color.  🙂
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 9:52 pm 
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Ski wrote:
one more reason why online retailers are killing brick-and-mortar stores

I suppose, but with few exceptions, I find it difficult to buy clothing online, especially shoes. And I hate paying shipping costs twice.

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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Tom
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 10:11 pm 
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I love Amazon.  Returns are easy (and usually free).  You don't even have to package it up.  Just go to the nearest hub location, print a return label as the kiosk, put the item in their supplied bag, add the label and hand it to the clerk.
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Ski
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 10:40 pm 
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Anne Elk wrote:
I find it difficult to buy clothing online, especially shoes.

Sorry to hear that. My experience has been quite the opposite. Size 13's never go on sale, and jeans with 36-inch inseams aren't easy to find.

The brand-new "New Balance" sneakers and the "Timberland" boots together were just shy of $80 bucks (incl. shipping and tax) on Ebay.
I found the ancient pair of Merrells on Craigslist. $15 bucks for the boots, $20 for shipping from Blaine. (The Vibram soles are like new.)
New Wrangler jeans were $14 bucks including shipping and tax on Ebay.
(That's just in the last 60 days.)

new shooze
new shooze

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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RandyHiker
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PostFri Dec 27, 2019 11:06 pm 
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REI has evolved to remain viable and profitable in today's world.   In terms of rack space, it makes far more sense to load them with high end items than reasonably priced standard items.   

I don't think one should get too moralistic about shopping at REI vs Walmart vs Amazon vs Saks.   Everything thing is sewn in sweatshops in China,  India, Vietnam,  etc.
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Malachai Constant
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 12:12 am 
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Larry Penberthy was complaining about the gentrification of REI back in the 70s. So for most of us it is “same as it ever was”. It is ok but not great, same thing happened to MEC. EB was a niche marketer appealing to hunters of the safari and $1000 shotgun variety which made a killing on down coats in the Korean War. They did not become a fashionista place until the 80’s I bought my first three pin skis there on close out 60% off when they closed out “hard” goods. They did well with that until the current retail slump. So it goes.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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treeswarper
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 7:43 am 
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Tom wrote:
I love Amazon.  Returns are easy (and usually free).  You don't even have to package it up.  Just go to the nearest hub location, print a return label as the kiosk, put the item in their supplied bag, add the label and hand it to the clerk.

Not everywhere is the city.  I have no idea where the nearest hub is....maybe Spokane?  I have never seen an amazon kiosk.

I have to try on clothes because it is such a pain to return anything ordered on line unless it is Sierra Trading Post.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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MtnGoat
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 8:53 am 
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I do miss the first REI. The puncheon flooring, the smell of creosote, the barrels full of ice axes, walls of huge frame packs, coils of goldline...

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Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock. - Will Rogers
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Damian
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 9:07 am 
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MtnGoat wrote:
the smell of creosote

When it hit you it was like coming home.

The slow pace.  The wide spacioius layout that rambled throughout the old building.  The knowledgable guy with the long beard at the stove repair station with the disorganized but vast assortment of spare parts.  The low key ambience.  Common folks and employees modelled gear in simple catalogs.  A smaller city.  I always ran into someone I knew there.  Different times.

I still like REI.
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alpendave
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 9:20 am 
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Silverdale has a Sierra Trading Post. Usually, the most you’ll pay is 60% of what you’d pay at REI. Not that much consistency on what they carry from month to month, but if you just can’t pay the prices that REI charges, always worth a look.

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Like a ray of sunshine in a drought stricken land.

What we do does far more than what we think others ought to do. Inspiration is a far greater power for good than coercion. In your own life, show others the good that you wish to see in the world.
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glenoid
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 11:05 am 
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The “old” REI was actually on Pike Street and about 3rd ave. It was downstairs from the old Mountaineers clubhouse. You could buy Tyrolean like pins for your wool felted alpine hat. Maybe get a pair of wool knickers too. (Now you have to go to Leavenworth for that stuff!)
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Kascadia
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 11:30 am 
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Genius was the scratch and sniff card they sent out at the closing of the old store.

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It is as though I had read a divine text, written into the world itself, not with letters but rather with essential objects, saying:
Man, stretch thy reason hither, so thou mayest comprehend these things. Johannes Kepler
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reststep
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PostSat Dec 28, 2019 11:59 am 
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glenoid wrote:
The “old” REI was actually on Pike Street and about 3rd ave. It was downstairs from the old Mountaineers clubhouse. You could buy Tyrolean like pins for your wool felted alpine hat. Maybe get a pair of wool knickers too. (Now you have to go to Leavenworth for that stuff!)

And Jim Whitaker was the sole employee.

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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