4 Reasons to Join a Coop for Outdoor Gear - REI Review

New Oboz Luna Low Hiking Shoes
There are plenty of big outdoor gear stores out there for shopping.  Camping World, Cabelas, Bass Pro and REI are just a few.  Of course, local stores are out there and available in areas that cater to outdoor enthusiasts.  Choosing where to spend your dollars does make a difference.

I do a lot of my shopping online for our gear.  Much of this is due to the limited resources we have in our local stores.  Outside of Walmart, we don't really have any local resources that supply the gear and items we need for camping.

Luci Light purchased at REI.
We recently decided to join REI.  They are a cooperative that you can join.  It is not mandantory join for you to shop there.  But, joining does have its benefits.

First, the membership fee you pay is a lifetime fee.  It is not annual.  For $20, we are lifetime members at REI.  What does membership provide at their stores?
  1. You recieve 10% annually on your purchases.  This can be provided in the form of a gift card or in an actual check that you are mailed.  Its like shopping with a discount all the time even on items that are not on sale.  This can really add up if you are a gear head!  
  2. REI will offer garage sale items to members on used gear that is placed in the store for purchase. 
  3. You get special pricing on classes, rentals and shop services.
  4. One big purchase could really pay for itself.  When we joined, they were offering a $20 gift card when you joined.  So it was like joining for free.
Added benefits of shopping in a brick and mortor store is the service. We have shopped at REI both out west and in the south.  I've never had bad service.  The staff is helpful and friendly always.  I find that their employees are knowledgable and eager to help you make informed decisions.

I really needed some guidance purchasing our new hiking shoes.  The gentlemen helping us really encouraged us to walk around the store and make sure that the shoes were just right for us.  No pressue to buy a certain brand.  It was all about getting what was right for us.

The same thing happened at a separate store when purchasing some gloves and our Luci Light.  The gentlemen in the store commented on how he likes his frosted Luci Light because it is just the right amount of light.  He helped me to decide between two different models of this solar light.  These were small purchases not big ones.

The Luci Light I purchased is inflateable and runs on solar power.

And if you join, you can always shop online and use your membership benefits there.  This is a big advantage for my family.  We don't have a local REI.  As a member, I will shop online to purchase items as needs arise.  

If you buy a lot of gear or are in a phase of buying gear for scouts, family camping or outdoor activities an REI membership might be a wise thing for you to do.  The membership would quickly pay for itself.

Where do you purchase your gear and big ticket items for your outdoor adventures?  If you are looking for a service oriented experience in shopping and making the best decisions, REI could be the right decision for you.  Other outdoor stores may have perks similar to REI.  I'd love to have you share your experience in shopping and where you spend your dollars.