Our first stop in Seattle was to the flagship REI store. As we could not fly with our stove fuel, lighter or matches we needed to purchase those items as well as food for the week. Of course we could use some new clothes too, that’s always a good excuse to go to REI. The store is huge, with multi-level parking garage and the store itself is multiple levels as well. While they did have a broad range of items, I really thought it would be a little more diverse than their other stores (I’ve been to the two in Dallas, the two in Houston, one in Austin, one on the north side of D.C. and one in Sacramento) but I didn’t really find it that way. Sure there was probably a lot more bicycling gear and rock climbing gear but as a whole it wasn’t as different as I was expecting.
Before I left I couldn’t find the REI hiking shirt I like to hike in so I thought I’d just get another one when I got there. The closest thing I could find was this one but I did not like the style. There were no others in that similar fabric that was not form fitting, so I ended up opting for a North Face t-shirt instead (which I ended up loving). It was frustrating because I wanted something simple and everything was frilly for women or tank tops, nothing simple. I went over to the men’s section and they had a wider variety in brands and styles which really disappointed me. Not only that I couldn’t find any of the long REI or Columbia hiking shorts that I’ve seen in the past…not even a pair of zip-off pants (which I didn’t need because I’d brought a pair of my own). I did end up buying another brand but I’m really picky about my shorts because while I love some of the styles that are out there, the shorter shorts ride up my legs and I find myself pulling them down constantly. The longer styles don’t do that and don’t piss me off while hiking.
I’ve already expressed my dismay to the lack of variety in their apparel to them via Twitter (and maybe I shouldn’t complain too much because it is turning to a colder season up there whereas we have several months of summer still down here) but still—-is it too much to ask to supply the women’s section with an equal amount of product diversity that the men’s section gets? Maybe I’m asking too much—maybe a lot of the women who shop at REI come in looking for the nicer clothing (which I do like too) and not the tech clothing—is there just not as many women doing outdoor activities that I think there are?
Other than that, the store was great, the personnel were friendly and assisting when asked and I thought it even neat that the U.S. Forest Service had a ‘branch’ inside the store with trail updates and other information. Outside the store was a beautiful garden/forested area that we quickly walked through. The store itself was super busy, particularly the areas with the backpacks and the shoes.
I’m sure we spent around 2 hours and well, I won’t say how much we spent—but it was a worthwhile trip to one of our favorite stores!