So you say you’ve never been to the REI attic sale before?  Well, my friend, you haven’t lived yet.

REI has a bi-monthly (or so) sale where you can buy gently used gear that other REI members have returned recently.   I know what you’re saying.. “Why are they selling used gear?”   Ok, I need to back up a little bit here…

REI, or Recreational Equipment Incorporated, is a consumer co-op based out of Kent, Washington.  Through their retail stores and online you can purchase everything from hiking boots to kayaks to tents and running gear.   They even offer adventure travel where you can go every from kayaking in the Baja sea to backpacking to the Mt. Everest basecamp.  In addition to selling gear and adventures, REI also works on active conservation of natural resources and organizes outreach programs to get its members involved with preserving outdoor spaces.

There is a one-time fee of $20 for lifetime membership to the co-op. REI normally pays an annual dividend check to its members equal to 10% of what they spent at REI on regular-priced merchandise in the prior year. The refund, which expires on December 31 two years from the date of issue, can be used as credit for further purchases or taken as cash or check between July 1 and December 31 of the year that the dividend is valid.

Now, here’s where it gets really cool.  If you buy a full priced item from REI and you’re ever unhappy with it, you can exchange or return it for a FULL REFUND.  Even if it’s a year old.  Obviously, if they accept a year old backpack for return, they can’t re-package it and sell it for new.  So what do they do?  They have an attic sale where they sell it back to other members at a STEEP discount.  So if you don’t mind buying a gently used bag, you can typically expect to get it for 50-75% off of retail. Not bad eh?

Here’s a list of some treasures I’ve found at the attic sale:

-Salomon hiking boots, worn for 1 season – normal retail $135, for $39.

-Northface buttondown shirt, small stain on the pocket – normal retail $65, for$15

-Vasque VST trail running shoes, practically brand new – normal retail $95, for $20

Not bad eh?  So if you have nothing else going on this Saturday, check out the local REI at 10am (get there earlier if you want to get first crack at the goodies).  All you have to be is an REI member, which is probably the best $20 you’ll ever spend.