If you’re a regular REI shopper, you’re almost certainly familiar with the company’s regular “garage sales.” At these one-day events, individual stores clear out—for cheap—all of the returned gear that has accumulated since the previous garage sale. They’re hugely popular, with dozens of people typically lining up before the doors open. So it’s no surprise that REI has now taken the garage sale concept online with the launch of a web site for selling lightly used gear, clothing, and footwear.
The site only sells gear that has been returned by customers—it’s not a consignment operation—and explains the ‘details’ of the operation in this delightfully succinct 18-word overview: 1) Customers return used gear. 2) REI inspects and selects the best. 3) We put it up for sale. 4). You score. (There’s a also a more in-depth FAQ.)
Five categories are currently available: men’s clothing and footwear, women’s clothing and footwear, and gear (which includes everything from tents to kayaking equipment to electronics). The selection is pretty good and there are already a lot of items listed, but the current sorting functionality of the site is somewhat limited—you can only sort clothing by size, for example, rather than by type of item (pants, shorts, jacket, etc.)—which makes it a bit tedious to scroll through the multitude of offerings.
Each item is sold as-is, without warranty, and there is no way to view the actual item you will receive—though you do have the option of returning it within 30 days if you’re unsatisfied with the purchase. The kicker, however, is that you must mail it back to REI—you cannot return it to a store—and pay for the costs of shipping. (You also cannot have a used gear item shipped to your local REI for free; you must pay to have it mailed to your home address.)
Decent to very good. As a general rule, clothing and gear are discounted 30 percent off regular price and footwear 40 percent, with some variations from these standard discounts for certain items (it’s not entirely clear why). The best deals are clearly on footwear, with many pairs discounted by 50 percent or more.
It’s important to note that these discount prices are applied to the item’s current listed regular price—and that many of the items feature a further discount off of an already reduced price. Hint: If the new price ends in a 3 (.93, .83, etc.), it’s already been discounted from its original new price and is a much better deal than it may first appear. If the price ends in a round dollar figure, the new price is the full original retail price.
The web site is currently in beta mode—it just launched earlier this month—so expect the inventory and functionality of the site to improve over time.