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ScottP

REI Sucks

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I agree, it would take a large organized nationwide campaign. In 3 years when I take my first retirement, I might be up for it. I will need the minutia details on the elections and the corporate structure, etc. I'll also need some insiders on my/our side. Need a few lawyers too.

 

From the website:

 

n 1938, mountain climbers Lloyd and Mary Anderson joined with 23 fellow Northwest climbers to found Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI). The group structured REI as a consumer cooperative to purchase high-quality ice axes and climbing equipment from Europe because such gear could not be purchased locally.  The word quickly spread, and soon many other outdoors people joined the co-op.  As REI grew, so too did the range of outdoor gear available to the co-op members.

 

During the past six decades, REI has grown into a renowned supplier of specialty outdoor gear and clothing.  We serve the needs of outdoors people through 69 retail stores in the U.S. and by direct sales via the Internet (REI.com and REI-OUTLET.com), telephone and mail.  Today, REI is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative with more than 2 million members.

 

Although the gear sold by REI looks much different now than it did in 1938, being a cooperative business remains central to REI. While non-members are welcome to shop at REI, only members enjoy special benefits, including an annual member refund on eligible purchases. REI’s business success allowed the co-op to return member refunds to its active members in 2003 totaling $41 million, and provide nearly $2 million in donations in support of the outdoors and outdoor recreation.

 

REI’s reputation is strengthened by an employee team that is recognized both for its knowledge of the outdoors and outdoor equipment and for being a friendly resource in helping any customer, from novice to the highly accomplished, prepare for their outdoor adventures.

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Well, I'll buck the trend here and say that I would NOT like to see REI start offering lower prices, better selection of climbing gear, and better service. Why not? Because then they would have even more of a WalMart effect on those smaller businesses that compete with them. I've talked to a few other retailers about REI. The concensus is that competing with the giant is very difficult for them in any case, and is possible only because they feel they are competing for different consumers. Smaller specialty stores can compete right now only because REI has left a large market niche (including many/most of those on this site) open to them. If REI were to change in the way many of your posts seem to suggest, that niche goes away.

 

Right now any of the smaller local guys I know of will match any REI price on the same gear. If that became too difficult for them due to REI lowering prices, if REI had a sales staff with a clue, if REI carried more than 1 or 2 brands of cams, a lot of you would take much more of your business to them. That means less business going to a PMS or Climbmax. If REI would make the kind of changes that many of you seem to be asking for, and the smaller stores start dropping away, then the "REI Sucks" thread will still be here, but with a totally different list of complaints. Be careful what you wish for.

 

The retail climbing market is very broad right now, and very competitive when it comes to pricing. Internet sources, REI, and many excellent shops like PMS, Climbmax, Mountain Shop, etc. I have no problem at all with how REI has decided to play in that market because I have all the options I need. While they happen to be my last choice for almost anything I'm looking for, I have no serious complaints about how the company is run. They don't deceive me or cheat me, they pay the dividend as promised, they donate a ton of cash to causes I think are good ones, and as far as I'm concerned they aren't really pretending to be anything they are not. Marketing hype aside, no one at REI is going to claim to be a technical climber's number one choice for gear. I would guess they would fully admit to having decided to largely leave technical climbing to other retailers. When I think of U.S. companies that piss me off, REI doesn't even make honorable mention.

 

Ya see man, what you're missing here is that it is a CO-OP. The mission of the store was to pool buying power to get better deals on CLIMBING and outdoor gear. The mission was not to become the Wal-Mart of outdoor gear and to cater to yuppie casual clothing interest.

 

First of all, I don't agree that the original mission had much of anything to do with PRICES. It had to do with simply being able to get climbing gear (almost all of which was European at the time) over here at all. As far as whether or not they still fulfill some true mission of what a co-op should be, yeah you may be right. But for reasons already mentioned, that's fine with me.

 

I also find it really ironic that so many of the complaints about REI listed on this thread mention a dividend, or in some other way indicate that the complainer does a fair amount of shopping there. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! It's like hearing someone go on and on about how they hate Texaco gas stations and get pissed off every time they use one. Duh!

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willstrickland for CEO of REI?

 

Has to be better than what we have...

 

The CEO is chosen by the board. I don't think will would be.

 

Now he has a chance of being on the board. But good luck getting on the ballot. I tried to last year. You need the signatures of 1% of the active membership of REI (that's about 10k signatures). Oh, and you need to get that many in an elapsed time of 2 months. And there's a limit to the number of member nominated board members madgo_ron.gif

 

Or you can be nominated by the board.

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what redoubt said!

The small retail shop is doomed. Your pissing in the wind if you think elsewhise.

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I read the bylaws yesterday. The system is so fahqed that you could never pull-off a grass roots uprising. Like cj said, you need either 1% of membership signatures (which is about 20,000 by my numbers) on a petition or a nomination from the current board to get on the ballot. And you would have to pull this off 5 times or more because of the 3 year terms in order to get a majority on the board. So even if you could do it, it would take many years.

 

HOWEVER, there is one potential glitch that could possibly be exploited. I will not discuss it here, but if you are interested or even better if you are a lawyer and interested, contact me.

 

I think there is alot of merit in Redoubt's view. But, I think that if REI had stayed true to its roots it would not endanger the survival of niche players like ClimbMax, PMS, etc. Look at the situation in Canada.

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willstrickland for CEO of REI?

 

Has to be better than what we have...

 

The CEO is chosen by the board. I don't think Will would be.

 

Thanks for the ringing endorsements fellas! yelrotflmao.gif

Can I quote you in my campaign propaganda?

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REI has wandered far from their roots. As a former employee (Master technician) at a large west coast REI I have seen from the inside what that organization is about. Thinking I had landed a career with an outstanding outdoors company when I was hired I quit a year later being unable to put up with the mentality of REI. I have been a member of "the co op" for 30+ years and have seen REI grow from being a store run by climbers, skiers and paddlers; experts in their field, to being another big box not any different than Gart's or GI Joes. It is to bad. They can not be changed I fear, from within nor without. Best to be avoided. Support your local specialty shops.

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Whining sux imo. I got no beef with REI. Where they lack the smaller and more specialized stores pick up the slack. They just managed a SPEEDY repair of my one year-old Lowe Contour 40 pack that severely failed me on top of høød the other day. madgo_ron.gifhellno3d.gif

In fact they, or should I say their sewing guru in Vancouver, WA, even placed a heavier guage zipper on the thing for no charge.thumbs_up.gif They don't stock a lot of specialty gear these days, but when I can I buy there I do because of their top notch repair and returns policy for members.

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REI is doing something right with a certain niche--they must be doing something right becuase they have been around a long time--and continue to grow. You don't like, then vote with your dollar.

 

Lotsa people don't like Wal-Mart, but man they are doing swell! They must be doing something right too.

 

It seems to me that most people who dislike REI are in the minority and post on this board......

 

Remember, the last word in REI is "Incorporated".

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REI is doing something right with a certain niche--they must be doing something right becuase they have been around a long time--and continue to grow. You don't like, then vote with your dollar.

 

Lotsa people don't like Wal-Mart, but man they are doing swell! They must be doing something right too.

 

It seems to me that most people who dislike REI are in the minority and post on this board......

 

Remember, the last word in REI is "Incorporated". [/quote

 

 

 

REI definately fills a niche. It is just that the niche is no longer outdoor specialty as it was back in the day. Wal mart may seem to be doing something "right" to you, and REI, however look at Inglewood Ca. People just voted to keep

wal mart out. Wal mart kills small business and REI is similar. Also, REI is NOT growing. They have closed several locations nationally and dramatically reduced administrative staff at their headquarters in kent Wa. REI is not evil, they are just anotherbig box staffed by people who frequently don't know much about what they are selling ... and sales, not service is the current emphasis. cry.gif

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