Some of you know me as the Thrifty Drunk Puppet. I inherited this name while running Ragnar with Nuun last year. The “Drunk Puppet” part came about because I was injured, and hobbling around like a marionette controlled by a drunk puppeteer. The “Thrifty” part came because I am cheap. Ridiculously cheap. Today, I’m going to write about how to be awesome at the REI Garage Sale, which is one of my cheap obsessions.
What is the REI Garage Sale? The REI Garage Sale is now supposed to be referred to as the “Used Gear Sale.” REI changed the name. I don’t know why. But I do know that thus far, everyone is continuing to call it the REI Garage Sale. Anyway, the REI Garage Sale is a members-only event in which REI members get to shop returned and damaged gear for deep discounts. It is amazing. I have posted here and here about the deals I’ve gotten in the past. Be warned though, REI increased their Garage Sale prices for 2013, which means that the deals may not be as amazing as they were previously. (However, I just went to a Garage Sale this past weekend, and was able to find some good deals.)
Here is how to rock the REI Garage Sale:
1. Figure out when the Garage Sale is taking place. Go to the REI website and search your area for an REI store. When you have found the store, click on that particular location. Then click on “Classes and Events.” Then scan the “Classes and Events” for “Used Gear Sale.” It will tell you when the next Used Gear Sale is to take place. Mark it on your calendar, and dream of the good deals to come.
2. Consider camping. I’ve woken up at 5am to get in line for the sale, and I’ve camped all night outside the store for the sale. Camping is totally worth it. You get first crack at all the deals, and you get to shop before it gets super crowded and overwhelming. Plus, the other people camping are nice…they are all outdoorsy deal-obsessed people. It’s like coming home!
3. Bring some entertainment, snacks, and comfort items for waiting in line. You don’t want to totally waste your time sitting outside a store for hours! Bring along some camp chairs, a book, and some trail mix to let the time pass.
4. Have a game plan. There will be a lot of stuff to distract you. Know what you’re looking for and get to that area of the chaos first. After you’ve procured that item. (Or found that they don’t have it), you can move on to searching for other deals.
5. Check the tags. REI documents why most items were returned. Items that say “worn once, didn’t fit” are probably okay to get. Items that say, “Wore for 10 years, can’t wash the stink out,” are probably not okay to get. (And really, my husband read a tag that said that). Also, watch for the original price on the tag. If the original price is not listed, be careful. This tends to mean that the item may only be discounted at 50% or so. I go to the Garage Sale to save tons of money, and 50% off does not cut it for me!
6. Reassess the situation before you make any purchases. Garage Sale purchases are not returnable. Therefore, make sure that you really want it before you get it. It can be exciting seeing all those deals, but stop and assess if you really want each item, and if they’re really worth what their priced at. If the items are electronic, plug them in to make sure they work before you leave the store with them
7. Pay for your purchases and brag to everyone about the deals you got. Thrifty Drunk Puppet strikes again!
Any other advice about REI Garage Sales? Where’s your favorite place to score good deals on sports/outdoors stuff?