8 Tips for Shopping Success at REI Garage Sales


JoAnna is a globe-trotting, idea-inventing, culture-collecting creativity connoisseur with a global family of foreign exchange students and rescue pets. You can also find JoAnna at joannahaugen.com.

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17 Responses

  1. Shelley B says:

    Great tips Jo – especially the first two! I haven’t made it to one of these yet, but I’m planning to hit up the next one I hear about in Boise.

  2. Really great advice, Joanna! Especially on the membership – it’s one of the best values around, since you get rewards and dividends for every REI purchase you make. WIsh my local REI would have more of these garage sales!!

  3. Shannon OD says:

    Oh man, I have never made it to one of these yet but it’s on my list next time I am on the West coast. It’s my eternal sadness that they dont have stores in Florida…I have to make do with online visits and when I visit LA 🙂 You’ve made me really want to time a visit with a sale now!

  4. Heather says:

    Realizing we’d be in the US for 2-3 years, we bought an REI membership in May and stocked up on backpacking supplies for the summer….then the pregnancy morning sickness hit and I couldn’t even walk out to get the mail! Will have to hit up our area REI garage sale next year and hope we can find a discount on a baby backpack. : )

  5. J says:

    I am now a regular at my (three!) local REI garage sales. I show up the night before, after closing time, and just camp the night. Waking up at 8 am and being #8 is better to me than waking up at 3 am and being #210. Just sayin’.

    Divide and conquer is key. If you are a camper, you get to know the other 20-some-odd people who are camping out for the garage sale. In your conversations, you all exchange info about what sizes you wear and what items you are looking for, and then come up with a rough divide/conquer plan. In addition to being the first in the door, you get to benefit from each other’s knowledge of gear repair.

    For example, at one of the recent garage sales, I found JetBoils for ~ $30 for everyone of the night campers who wanted one. They all had a recalled and freely replaced ignitor (which is why they were returned to REI), and because I knew about this ignitor situation I was not only able to unite each night camper with the JetBoil of their dreams, but was also able to tell them to call and get a replacement ignitor. Good as new for a fraction of the cost.

    Similarly, one of the other guys spotted my dream pack in my size and snagged it for me.

    Yet another night camper found a sleeping pad for another of the overnight crew. It was a self-inflating pad and had a hole, but he helped her patch it with his know-how.

    And finally, I found a $30 tent for another of the overnight campers. The tent needed some sewing work done, but I was happy to do it in the general spirit of camaraderie.

    Other people would have left these (JetBoil, sleeping pad, tent) items alone because they lacked the gear repair know-how to make such a delicious price purchase work for them. Spend the night, the night before, and you meet folks who know how to repair gear and will do it just because you camped with them.

    • JoAnna says:

      Thank you for your fantastic comment J! You’ve proved my point exactly. The REI sales can save hundreds of dollars with some creativity and a little know-how.

      We have two REIs near where we live, and they usually hold their sales one week apart from each other. We frequently see the same people at both.

  6. Abby says:

    Twenty bucks for a lifetime membership?! That’s insane! You’re right about stuff coming in handy even for the occasional traveler — some of the things you mentioned I’d wished I had during my recent Argentina trip.

  7. Tatyana says:

    I just wanted to say st my first yard sale I spent 350 dollars went home looked up the current prices on my items the equaled out to about 2000.00 I was amazed now I’m hooked Columbia down water proof jacket with titanium lining 39.00 bucks. North face half gone hoody 6 bucks

    • JoAnna says:

      The deals are amazing, aren’t they! We usually look up the retail prices when we arrive home with the mother load too, and we’re always shocked at how much everything would have cost at full price.

  8. Ollie says:

    Can only the person with the membership get in or can my teenager go in with me?

  9. Elard says:

    This is my 2nd visit, first was great. Got 2 brand new Backpacks at 70% off also 2 Rei Metal Coffee Mugs $3 and 1 sleeping bag $10. Thanks for your tips

  10. Great write up! It neat to see how all of the different garage sales work. In denver, it doesn’t matter how early you get there. Everybody draws a ticket to get in and it is a random draw. I’ve seen some people camp out then get a ticket that doesn’t let them in until a few hours after the doors open, but yeah, there are some killer deals to be had. Last one I went to we got over $600 worth of stuff for about $200. Pretty good deal!

  1. October 14, 2010

    […] 8 Tips for Shopping Success at REI Garage Sales | Kaleidoscopic Wandering […]

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