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How to Score Big at an REI Garage Sale

How to Score Big at an REI Garage Sale

What is the REI Garage Sale?

The REI Garage Sale is a sale that REI does about 3-4 times per year where they have a mass selling of all of their gear that is slightly used, returned, demo’d, or is last year’s model.   This means there is a huge opportunity for savings.

When is the REI Garage Sale?

It happens several times per year.  My best recommendation is to go to the REI website and sign up to receive events and happenings to your local REI.  There is usually one at the start of each new ‘season’ (beginning of ski season, end of ski season, beginning of summer, and end of summer).

How does the REI Garage Sale work?

Okay, this is very important…  I’m going to lay out how the REI garage sale works at the Denver REI.  This is one of the biggest REI’s in the nation and it is simply too big and too popular for it to just be a free for all.  The last few I have been to have left a few people disappointed because they didn’t receive the correct instructions.  Here is how the REI Garage sale works for REI Denver.

  • Show up by 7:00am.  You don’t need to be crazy early.  A few minutes before 7:00 is fine.
  • Stand in line.  An REI employee will come down the line at 7:00 am with a box containing different colored raffle tickets.  There are about 6-7 colors in there.
  • If you are in the back of the line getting your tickets, it doesn’t matter as it’s a random draw.
  • Get your ticket from the box.
  • Look at the color of your ticket.
  • Go do something for the next hour (there is a Starbucks in the REI that is open…so there’s that…)
  • At 8:00, go back out front of the main doors.  One of the REI employees will have a volunteer draw tickets out of the box and they are color coordinated as to who gets to go first; this means there is an orange group, a red group, a green group, etc..
  • Whichever color gets drawn first will get to go in pretty much immediately, so don’t go anywhere if you are in the first group.
  • The other colors will be put in order according to the order they were drawn and assigned a timeslot in 30 minute increments.
  • If you don’t get to go in immediately, wait around until it is your turn.   When it’s almost your turn, make your way into REI and go up the stairs to the 3rd floor.  There will likely already be people waiting in line.
  • Find the group that your color matches, then hang out until they let your color go into the designated REI Garage Sale room.

Now that you are inside the REI Garage Sale room, here are the rules.

  • You are allowed 20 minutes to browse the room and make your selection.  After 20 minutes they kick you out of the garage sale room.
  • You are allowed 5 items per person.
  • You are NOT obligated to actually purchase the items you take out of the garage sale room.  But please be courteous and return them to the garage sale room (there will be an attendant taking these items at the door) so that other shoppers have a chance to purchase what you didn’t want.

Tips and Tricks for the REI Garage Sale

  • If you and your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend/buddy are both drawing tickets, there’s a chance you won’t get the same color ticket.  You may think about trading tickets with somebody so you can go in at the same time.  Now, this is fine…but consider this; if you go in first and you find your 5 things but there is more stuff you want or you think your partner needs, you could theoretically ‘place it’ (ahemHideitbehindsomething) in the room so your buddy would be able to find it when they come into the room (unless somebody is onto your shenanigans).  You could be a bit of a scout for that second person. #wingman.  Plus, if you were to trade tickets in the first place to go in at the same time, you will have to trade down to a later time. #NoFriendsOnaPowderDay rules apply here.
  • Once you get into the REI Garage Sale room, like I said, you get to pick a max of 5 items.  If you find something you even remotely want, grab it and hang on to it.  If you don’t it will likely be gone by the time you figure you actually wanted that roof rack…or whatever.  If you determine that you don’t want the item before your 20 minutes is up, you can just set it down.
  • Since you only have 20 minutes, you need to be pretty decisive.  Now is not the time to try stuff on.  There will be no dressing room available in the REI Garage Sale room.  Sure, you could try on a coat, or some shoes, but be quick.  That 20 minutes goes faster than you think.
  • After you are out of the REI Garage Sale room, you should find a space off to the side somewhere (I like the fireplace down on the first floor) to inspect your gear.  Since this gear can be slightly used or retuned damaged, you need to inspect it and see HOW used it is and HOW damaged it is (and find out if you can fix it).  Then is the time to try on clothing, see what size of snowshoe you actually need, see if it’s a hammock or a hammock bug net in that bag (happened to a guy I was sitting next to.  Oops! lol ).  Again, you can return the unwanted items to the garage sale if you choose not to purchase them.

There you go, that is about the most I can say about the REI Garage Sale in Denver.  I have been informed that some of the other REI Garage Sale events are not a ticket based event and is simply a show up and you will be cycled through.  I cannot speak on this from first hand experience as the only REI garage sale I have been to has been at the REI in Denver.  Anyway, if you have any questions, let me know!  Also, be sure to subscribe to the Adventure in a Backpack webpage and I’ll do my best to send out e-mails and other notices and let you know if one of these REI Garage Sales are coming up. Thanks for reading!

Here are the links to the Products I ended up getting.

Snowshoeing Adventure in RMNP - Adventure in a Backpack

Tuesday 26th of January 2016

[…] Snowshoes for us at the Denver REI Garage Sale a few months back (you can check out that post HERE), and we hadn’t had a chance yet to use them, until today.  It was a beautiful sunny day, so […]