My first REI garage sale was a total hit AND miss. Turns out, REI garage sales are serious business! I got there at 9am when they opened. I figured there would be some people already there but didn’t realize it was the type of thing people camp out overnight for. Oops. I spent an hour waiting in line outside and then another hour in the line going from the front of the store to the back of the store. All this to find out that saving a few dollars is totally not worth a two-hour line, being bumped with other women’s purses and gently elbow jabbed by men trying to get to stuff in front of me. There were bins filled with discounted stuff in the back area past the restrooms and then tents and more in the back parking lot through the back door. I spent a whole two minutes before I couldn’t take it anymore and escaped without picking anything up. I mean, it wasn’t really that chaotic but I was extremely uncomfortable with that many people in such a small space. It’s a miracle I didn’t throw up on anyone. Next time, if there is a next time, I will bring someone not afraid to touch strangers. I will stand to the side pointing at items I want to look at and my purse wielding, elbow jabbing, personal shopper will brave the crowd for me. Now, I’m not saying don’t go. If you’re the type of person that likes shopping on Black Friday, by all means, the deals are pretty sweet. It just wasn’t for me. I should’ve known after spending two hours in line that I was going to freak out but I had to drive an hour to even get out there in the first place. I couldn’t just go home.
I didn’t walk away empty-handed. I gained the experience and knowledge of knowing not to do that again. I, also, went and shopped the boring ol’ regularly priced, non-crowded items. I got a mesh stuff sack, a bug net, some stakes, a Sawyer Squeeze Filter, a footprint and … wait for it … A FIFTY DOLLAR BIG AGNES FLY CREEK UL1 TENT!!!! There was only one left and it didn’t have a tag on it. I brought it up to the counter after waiting almost half an hour at the check-out line. I told the guy I was really sorry but it was the only one I could find. After about 15 minutes of him trying to look it up he said he found it, I hastily swiped my card, and literally ran out of there. I didn’t know until I got home that when he “found it” in the computer he found the footprint which is only $50 and not the tent itself which is close to $330 on their website. After waiting all morning in the store I didn’t have it in me to wait on the phone to explain it to someone. I told myself that if it still bothered me in the morning, I’d call. It did. I am such a square! After the woman finished laughing at me and putting me on hold for long periods of time, she informed me that a small vote was taken and it was decided I needed a discount for my honesty – my stupendously stupid honesty. I’ve always thought their costumer service was great but now I think I might want to marry them. They discounted it to $150 which is still more than half off on a brand new tent there. Woohoo! $150 tent and some sweet sweet karma, baby! Yes, I realize $50 would have been even sweeter but I just couldn’t do it.
I set it out on the deck out back and despite its ELEVEN stakes I’m absolutely ecstatic. I haven’t slept in it yet but I did crawl in, lay down, and sit up. It feels comfy. I’m only 5’3″ so it looks like plenty of space for myself as well as my pack. Which is good because it only has a small 5.5 sq ft vestibule. Another quirk is that while technically a free-standing tent it needs the corners of the foot end staked out or the only thing holding things together is the single pole at the end. I think the idea is less poles = lighter weight? I’m okay with that.
I can’t stand out-of-the-box reviews so I’ll stop there. I especially get perturbed when they say things like “it looks like it would break easily” or “I have the ’02 version and _______” and then give it a 1 star review from their living room. Don’t get me started on the people who bought the wrong size or didn’t bother to read the product description and blame the product itself. I’m not talking about reviews on personal blogs but reviews on websites where the product is being sold. It’s okay to be excited, to anticipate, to speculate. All I ask is that you use the damn thing before you click on a star. All you’ve done is make sure people like me have to actually go through and read reviews to weed out overreactions from people like you who’ve never even used it. Boo to you!
Okay, I’m done. I’ll post more when I actually go out and use it but so far I love it. Mentally, it’s a huge milestone for me. It’s my first real piece of solo gear – a serious commitment to my thru-hike. :)