around town

REI garage sale and all its awesomeness

This past Sunday, Ryan and I rolled out of bed and headed to REI for their quarterly garage sale. Just about every time we go to one of these sales, we score big. We never know what we might end up walking out with, we just know there will be big savings on great clothes and gear.


A REI garage sale is a members only event, where items that were returned or ‘damaged out’ are sold at a discounted price. The first REI garage sale that we attended was in Hartford, Connecticut, still one of the best locations we have been to for a garage sale. We were hooked from that point on. At my first sale, I landed a hiking backpack (practically brand new condition) and a raincoat for shfifty ($50) dollars, shwhat?!


Since then, we have raked in a number of sweet scores. Over the past four years, we have each found new hiking shoes, REI tent, a couple of jetboil stoves, an ENO hammock, winter jackets, boots that I love, work pants (for Ryan to get his farm on), Chacos x4, and more. The list could go on and on. Let’s just say the REI sale has made us a couple of happy campers, literally.


We have even gifted some finds, like tents and sleeping bags.

All sales are set in their own way, and every store we have been to is done a little differently. The one thing that remains the same is categorizing merchandise. All the women’s clothing is in a section, men’s in another, shoes are all together, and backpacks and other camping equipment are set close together but yet defined and shop-able. Ryan and I usually strategize beforehand and beeline it to desired items first.

The last sale we went to was in Atlanta (our new city love and home), we didn’t score like we usually do, so we decided to visit the REI location in Kennesaw this time time around. There was a pretty solid group waiting outside when we arrived (not unusual) at 9:30 (doors opened at 10:00), and the crowd only grew from there. After waiting for just a few minutes, the most magical thing happened, a man with a coffee cart was rolling through. You know how I love coffee.


Once inside, we parted ways and got our shop on while rubbing elbows with several strangers.


Don’t be fooled by the chaos. Every sale we have been to folks treat one another with great consideration.

Here is how we do it:

  • First scan every category for items to grab, then find your partner. Once you have reunited, find a good spot to unload, try things on, and give quickly grabbed items a second thought.


  • Once you have sorted out the keepers, put back the discarded items and scope again.
  • Repeat until you can go no more. We often find our favorite things the second or third round.

Here is the breakdown of our past REI garage sale:


  • REI purple vest (tags still on it.) – priced for $40.00 at the sale with 30% off that.
  • Sweet Born boots (lightly used.) – priced for $97.93 at the sale with 50% off that.
    Ryan said it was a steal and that this kind of deal would be hard to find again, so we pulled the trigger, and I have rocked them every day since.
  • Keen water proof boots(small area of sole peeling away) – priced $79.73 at the sale with 70% off that.
    Easy fix with shoe goo.
  • New Balance running shoes (small area of sole peeling away) – priced $70.00 at the sale with 70% off that.
    Another easy fix and barely even noticeable
  • Patagonia flannel (brand new, baby – tags still on it.) – priced $89.00 at the sale with 30% off that. It fit like a glove, it’s a flannel, and it matches the green vest I live in Ryan bought me in 2010 just before moving to Mass. We chopped it up to a belated Christmas gift and took the plunge.


  • Royal Robbins knitted zipper with hood (knitting pulling apart.) – priced $88.00 at the sale with 70% off.
    It was only 50%, but I felt like the loose knitting wasn’t worth it, so I took it to a back room to have it marked down. With a perfect fit and everything about it saying my name, I had to see if they would take more off the price. They did, and I brought this little gem home with me.

We would have spent $464.66 (without tax) paying full price, but at the sale we came out at $223.21 (with tax). We have never spent more than $250.00, and we always feel like we found the most amazing deals.

Let me leave you with a few tips:

1. Bring a bag or two to put your goods in. This was my best friend on the last trip – I was racking up in shoes.

2. Color code. We have been to two different kinds of sales setups. Some sales have the price written on the tag. Other sales have a colored dot system that represent the percentage off. Finding the sign that breaks it down has sometimes been the tricky part. I think it might be a Southern thing.

3. Know your brands. Some brands with great warranties on their products even though they were returned to REI. Brands like Patagonia and Osprey carry lifetime warranties and will actually accept items for repair or replacement.

4. Price adjust. If you don’t think the price matches the item’s condition, ask an employee. There is likely someone working the garage sale doing solely that.

Keep up with the events at your local REI here and find out when your next garage sale is. There’s another sale in four months…get ready.

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  • Reply
    May 30, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for this! Looks like another REI Garage Sale is scheduled for June 13. I live in Atlanta also and am wondering which REI in the area is likely to have the best stuff — you’ve tried out a couple at least, which was the best in your opinion? Kennesaw?

    • Reply
      this natural dream
      May 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm

      Kennesaw had a better layout and selection. With as much as we scored it was definitely worth the drive. Though, don’t be surprised if you see us at the Atlanta location. Their Garage Sale wasn’t as good as Kennesaw’s but worth trying again.



      • Reply
        May 31, 2015 at 1:56 pm


  • Reply
    February 9, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Great write-up! I just happened to drop by the Kennesaw REI when they were having the garage sale last year. It was late in the afternoon and not a whole lot left. I scored a long sleeved neoprene kayaking top at 90% off! I won’t miss another REI garage sale and I’ll be sure to go early next time.

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