REI’s #optinside campaign

Once my morning coffee coursed its way through my veins, I spied an email from REI.

Not a big deal.

I get lots of spam, er informational, email in an old account I keep just for these reasons.

Then I read the email more closely.

A Garage Sale announcement…or what we used to call a scratch and dent sale where I grew up.

A chance to, as the email put it, to come in for amazing deals on “as is” merchandise that has been used and returned..

Then I noticed the hours.

Weekends only.

As with many working stiffs with a 9-5 job, I have limited free time.

And most of that free time is on precious weekends.

I go to the dentist, get the oil changed, do grocery shopping, pick up dry cleaning and the other myriad chores that keeps two adults and two pets functioning.  Often before 9PM and after 5PM because, well, I am working.

Weekends are for camping, hiking, skiing , backpacking and using the gear for these activities.

Not spending hours in line, fighting crowds and hoping for a deal while buying gear instead.

Why not have the sales on weekdays as well? With stores hours going until 9PM at night, plenty of time for a working stiff such as myself to buy crap that I want to use with my precious time off.

Those who don’t have the night time flexibility can still go on a weekend morning if they are not crowd phobic like myself.

Everyone wins.

The answer of course is that REI sells a lifestyle as much as gear. They have excellent service, good prices and solid house brand gear. I take advantage of their online sales myself for certain items when it makes sense.

But having “events” and flashy marketing campaigns to go with said events make these sales not just a place to buy gear. But a part of the lifestyle. Go to REI, spend a Saturday and forget about going outside. Opt to be inside instead. And buy stuff. Make the sale on a weekend only? It is an EVENT and not merely a sale. The plethora of websites on this event seems to only bear this fact out.

Imagine lining up at at your local grocery store, hours early, for a sales event on oranges or hams?  Probably not.. (  I do know someone who did something similar to that, but she also grew up in Eastern Europe in the 1980s. I call her my someone. )

I’d rather not have that experience of standing in line for a pair of socks or rain gear either.


REI garage sale line. From Two Weeks To Travel

Line in Cold War-era Poland. From Wikipedia.

I should also say I am not picking on REI. Many outdoor companies do this tactic. Makes a lot of marketing sense.

To be honest, though, you can just as many good deals online at EBay,, Sierra Trading Post (My two pairs of $30 Mountain Hardware pants come to mind. Score! ) and others. Heck, REI-Outlet itself often has some good deals.

I realize that there will always be killer deals on a down coat that *may* make standing two hours in line worth it.

Or got to REI Outlet and get a deal on a tent without having to wait in line. 🙂 The REI HooDoo. A tent used for car camping.


For those of us who are working stiffs and really, really, really need to be outside and not inside during our time off, maybe consider a weekday sales event too? 🙂

Finally, a video I always come back to it…  Partially because I enjoy the skit. Partially because it always seems all too appropriate.


Appropriately enough, this article was written after I worked all day and then went grocery shopping, went to the cleaners, bought some pet supplies and picked up some books at the library. Why? Because if I can, weekdays are for errands and shopping for me. Weekends are for the outdoors. Not standing in line to buy crap for the outdoors if I can avoid it. I’ll be backpacking tomorrow. And not going to a gear event.


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8 years ago

Haha. Very nice post.

8 years ago

Did you get your member exclusive T-shirt?

Another Kevin
8 years ago

Heh. I’m still an REI member, because it doesn’t lapse. But I find I don’t buy much – because I have the basic kit for 3½ seasons. (I don’t backpack in deep winter. I switch to peak bagging. -10F or so is about my limit for sleeping rough.) When I’ve been upgrading or replacing gear, it’s more likely been a weird mix of the cottage-industry stuff that’s beyond what REI carries, and cheap-ass stuff like undies from Target or fleece clothing from Aunt Sallie. I made out like a bandit at the REI scratch-n-dent sale when I was first getting… Read more »

8 years ago
Reply to  Another Kevin

I think that REI is a decent place to buy stuff. I just don’t have much use for their retail stores. If the closest store wasn’t 90 miles away, I might feel differently. At least I might be able to try some of the stuff on and avoid the mail order doesn’t fit blues. The dividend can make a difference. I bought an MSR Windburner with last year’s dividend, although I have no idea what I spent the money on to earn the dividend. As long as they offer good stuff at reasonable prices, I’ll keep buying from them, but… Read more »

8 years ago

I never heard of #optinside but #optoutside was, I thought, a good idea. That was when REI stayed closed the Friday after Thanksgiving and encouraged people not to shop; anywhere.

My wife and I went skiing. She used to get up early for door buster sales, so I think I’m making progress.