The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (Or Why I Love Being an REI Member)

Sing it with me people!  “It’s the most wonderful time, of the year…..”

No not Christmas!  Shoot it’s not even Spring yet (though close!)  Yes, I can hear y’all thinking, “Dude what are you talking about???”  {Or as my kid sis in England would say “What are you on about big bruver?”)

Well I’ll tell ya, aside from spring time and the hope for nicer weather on the horizon, my favorite part of  the month of March is the REI Dividend arrives in the mail!!

What’s that, not everyone knows about REI, let alone the dividend?  Wow, I sometimes forget the rest of the world isn’t as spoiled as I am with places to get outdoor gear.

Flagship store of Recreational Equipment Incor...
Flagship store of Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI Co-op), Cascade District, Seattle, Washington, USA. The high portion of the building at left includes a large artificial climbing rock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

REI stands for Recreational Equipment Incorporated.  It’s a co-op started in Seattle, back in 1938, by climbers who wanted to help other climbers get quality equipment at a decent price.  It has since expanded to 31 states and carries gear for almost anything you can think of in the way of outdoor adventure! (Hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding rock and mountain climbing even the new stand up flat boards for water!)  About the only thing it doesn’t carry is guns for hunting or poles for fishing!

I first started shopping at REI when they opened the flagship store right across the street from my office!  I was in heaven!  In fact, I (in my slacks and tie) was one of the first 100 people to climb their climbing wall pinnacle

Rock climbing tower, REI Flagship Store design...
Rock climbing tower, REI Flagship Store designed by Mithun in 1996. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK, cool, so you know what REI is, what is this about a dividend?  Glad you asked!

REI is still a co-op, anyone can shop there.  However, if you join, you get 10% back on all nonsale items you buy during the year.  I once had a $300 dividend when I was getting ready for Mt. Rainier.  The best part?  it’s not an annual fee!  One time only, lifetime!  When I joined it was $15,  I just checked an it is up to $20.  Still, spend $200 your first year and you get it back!

What is nice is that I don’t just shop there for gear.  I have gotten work clothes (Hey if it has a collar and buttons it fits in the office, especially if it is Mountain Hardware), baby shower gifts (every infant needs a carabiner (just kidding, they have lots of stuff to help parents introduce babies to the outdoors INCLUDING bike trailers and ride behinds for older kids)), birthday and christmas presents (everyone needs a headlamp, or in case of zombie apocalypse, an ice axe!)  and even anniversary gifts from there.  It all adds up over time.

NOW add to it I have an REI Visa card.  I get a percentage back on each card purchase added to my dividend.  Normally I am not a big credit card shopper, but this year I did a LOT of traveling for work!  Guess how I paid for it all?  It always got paid off as I got reimbursed, but that’s 1000’s of dollars in purchases that all qualify for my dividend!

Shopping with your dividend is shopping with free money!  My wife just turns me loose and tells me to come out when I am done.  Last year I splurged and bought a set of sunglasses strictly for biking.  This year I need at least a new pair or two of biking shorts (wore a pair out last year) and maybe a new swiss army knife!  Or even a new soft shell jacket!  Just have to wait and see what I get in the mail!  Plus, if I don’t find anything i need or want (yeah right) after July 1, I can ask to cash it out!

Just for the record, I am not affiliated with this store in any way shape or form.  In fact, I’ve been turned down for jobs there as EVERYONE wants to work there!  They just have the best selection, customer service and return policy (this will be its own post!) anywhere.  Check them out, talk to the employees, hell even if you go elsewhere to find a cheaper price, the knowledge they share will come in handy!

Best part!  Almost Forgot!!  I am going back to the company that is next door to the flagship store!  Just in time for the 20% off dividend sale!  HELL YEAH!  Time to climb the wall again!!!

“it’s the most, wonderful time….  Of the year…”  HEY is that the mailman????


11 thoughts on “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (Or Why I Love Being an REI Member)

  1. REI is the best! Like Frys for the outdoor enthusiast. You walk in needing new snowboarding pants and walk out with a solar charger, ten Cliff bars, a new day pack, and all kinds of happy.

    1. People think I am a freak when I can go into Costco for one item, and walk out with just that. Now REI…. I can shop there for hours and spend the entire paycheck!

      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  2. Love it. Back in the day, I couldn’t wait to get back to REI to spend my dividend. Not so much now, no REI’s around. One of my favorite places on the planet.

    I remember the packed little quarters up on the hill where the original store stood. I loved that place. It was a place of dreams as a kid. I would see the photo’s of Jim Whitaker on Everest and was drawn to the topo maps of Rainier and any other places that we would hike.

    Every trip back to Seattle warrants a stop at the flagships store. Took my wife there on her first trip to Seattle. Now she loves it, too. One day you can ask her why!!

    1. Jim I am intrigued! I will ask her why! On rainy day lunches I can wander in there for hours! The one decision of their’s i disagree with is doing away with the giant garage sales at the flagship store. Walking in the dark parking garage, needing a head light for close looks at the gear, but killer deals!

  3. REI can be somewhat controversial; if you want to start a fight on a hiking forum, just mention them. That said, I love REI, they’ve always treated me well. You can occasionally find great deals there, and if you need something specific, especially if it’s new, it’s going to be exactly the same price as anywhere else, except you get 10 % back at the end of the year, and a fantastic return policy. Knowing they’ll fix a problem if I have one gives me the warm fuzzy feeling when I buy things there.

    One day, not terribly long after a bike of mine was stolen, my girlfriend needed to go to REI for a wool tee-shirt. By coincidence, they were having a scratch-and-dent sale outside, and had dozens of returned bikes. One of them fit me perfectly. It was a CX bike, with drop bars, cross brake levers, and disc brakes. I got about 5,000 or 6,000 miles out of that bike before I traded it in somewhere else. 🙂

    You’re right that everybody needs an ice axe. And their indoor climbing wall has some routes that are more difficult than they look.

    Tip: A lot of people work at REI because they need a job, and these tend to work weekends when it’s crowded and the store needs as much staff as possible. And a lot work there mostly just for the employee discount on gear. If you need advice, go on a week day.

    1. Forrest excellent advice on getting advice! Working next door I got spoiled, I could show up as soon as eh opened! Thanks for input and I love the retrurn policy with them!

      Thouhg I think some people take advantage of it too much! I once saw someone return a shell 12 years after he purchased it because it just started to leak. That thing had some serious use on it (you could tell) and nuthin lasts for ever, but they were happy to reimburse him for the purchase price!

  4. My wife and I just joined REI this past weekend. I have to admit, I’m very very excited about the dividend program, and about the extra sales! Knowing me, I’ll probably funnel most of the dividend right back into the company! It was a bit of a “where have you been all my life???” situation when we signed up.

    Love the look of the blog; definitely going to start coming here for the advice. We’re hoping to start using the bikes to commute around town more, especially since the Little Guy is getting big enough to ride along in a baby seat. Cheers!

    1. Ethan welcome! Next to the dividend in the return policy on my list of why I like REI! It is especially nice when there is a kid involved. You can choose a baby seat, see how it works, and if needed switch it out! When mine were smaller I took them many places with me!

  5. Can’t help being excited. They seem to have processed the dividends (it’s mid-March, after all) and while I haven’t got mine in the mail yet (and don’t need to, they just look you up in the computer) I was able to get my “free money” balance on their site today. 😀

    Last spring I bought an Osprey backpack, BA tent, and BA sleeping bag, so I’ve got a nice dividend due me. The next few days will be spent like a kid in a candy shop, deciding what I’ll get for spring Christmas.

    “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” is playing between my ears as I type this.

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