I have a proposition for you. There’s a new REI opening in Woodbridge, VA this weekend, and the store is celebrating with awesome giveaways. The first 200 people through the door each morning (Fri – Sun) get a free Camelbak water bottle with a gift card inside. The gift cards range in value from $10 to $100 (mostly $10), and it’s completely random which one you’ll get. Also, there are five sweepstakes for different gear packages that we can enter once we get inside. Oh, and if we sign up for the REI Visa credit card, we can get $120 in gift cards plus 5% back on our REI purchases.
Want to get up at 6:30 on a cold rainy Sunday morning and drive 45 minutes to wait in line outside for three hours until the store opens? They’re providing breakfast for early arrivals. Heck yes! I’m in!
Indeed, my friend Caro is as crazy as I am (fist bump!). Once we got into the new REI at 11am and received our (yes, $10) gift cards, Caro pointed out that our reward for waiting was a mere $3.33 per hour. And memories, don’t forget the memories, Caro. Remember when I sat in the beach chair and you sat on the concrete wrapped in a blanket? Oh, and there was the time that I left to get some tea and when I came back you were in the chair reading a book huddled under the umbrella. And who could forget when, after an hour of shopping, you finally said, “I’m going to go outside,” and when I went to find you, you were at the nearby pet store contemplating buying a kitten to comfort you from the trauma of the crowds (totally understandable)? Good times.
What a great Sunday activity to participate in. Some people get excited about clothes, home goods, garden gnomes. I get excited about outdoor gear…and free stuff…and making friends in line. In front of us were a woman and her two daughters. They had been at the store (with a third child in tow) the two mornings before too scooping up more gift cards. Why they needed a dozen water bottles I’m not sure, but mom was content to sit there waiting instead of going to church with the hubbie (and third child). Behind us were a 20-something brother-sister pair who eventually resorted to watching Family Guy on their smartphone to pass the time.
At one point I walked a couple of blocks down to go to the bathroom in a Starbucks, and I got a good look at the crowd. The line wound down and completely around the block. It’s not every day that a new REI opens, and the looney tunes come out of the woodwork to greet the store. (I’m clearly not talking about me. Everybody else is crazy to stand outside for hours in the rain, but my reasons were rational and guided by logic.)
I was hoping to chat with some product vendors, but sadly none had made the trip on Sunday. On the bright side, every time I step into an REI, I talk with the knowledgeable staff and increasingly narrow my focus on gear options. This experience was no exception, and I’m getting close (so close! desperately close!) to picking a couple of my big pieces of equipment (tent, sleeping pad, etc.). Don’t blink because I’ll have bought something by the time you open your eyes. Or well, next time you blink at least. Or maybe the next time.
I’m a morning person and rarely set an alarm clock. I made an exception last weekend. I had my priorities! All in all, not a bad way to prioritize (seven hours on) a Sunday. But I do have to say, I’m glad new REIs don’t open every day. Being so enthusiastic(!) and energized(!) and excited(!) is exhausting.