If you have an REI near you and you've never been to one of their Attic/Scratch N' Dent sales, you should definitely go; it is totally worth it. This is how they get rid of all of the items that have been returned via their (extremely generous) return policy. If you want to score the best deals, you'll have to show up early, like 6 or 7am, or even camp out overnight (there are always some hardcore folks who do this) and be ready to wait outside until the doors open at 10am, but you'll be rewarded by unbelievable deals.
I went to the store near me in NoVA - the Bailey's Crossroads location - at 7am and froze my toes off waiting until open. I was about 20th in line and when my toes really started to go numb at about 8:30 I went back to the car for a sleeping bag. They never completely warmed up the rest of the morning. It is pretty cool talking to the people in line; you hear some cool stories about hiking, biking and adventure travel. It definitely gives you ideas about where you want to go and what you want to see. It's one of the reasons that going to this sale isn't just about saving some money, it's a lot of fun too.
I always have a bunch of gear that I need in mind, but on this trip my particular wishlist included:
- Asolo hiking boots
- Cold-weather cycling boots, preferrably Sidi Diablos
- Baby-carrier backpack for hiking this spring with my daughter
For these sales they always have the gear cordoned off in the back storeroom. When they let you in at 10am, it' a little like going downstairs on Christmas morning, everyone's eyes are wide and then people just start grabbing stuff and putting it in their baskets. They had almost zero cycling stuff at this sale which was dissappointing. The only things I remember were some wire basket-panniers, some womens' shoes and two Ortlieb waterproof backpacks. Oh, there was also Yakima Holdup hitch-mount bike rack (I used to have one) but I have a Thule which I like better.
Negative on the cold-weather cycling boots. Negative on the baby-carrier; there was one at the sale but someone else snagged it. However, I did score the Asolo boots. Not only that, but they were the exact ones I had in mind. Asolo TPS 520 GV boots. I didn't know the model but I could picture the ones I had seen and liked. Turns out they're almost the top of the Asolo line. Retail for $275; I got 'em for $50, absolutely nothing at all wrong with them. The "damages" description only said "Worn once, no laces." Before I snagged the Asolos I had grabbed some like-new Zamberlan boots from Italy and kept those as well. Also $50. Those were only described as "Worn several times, customer did not like". On both boots, from the look of the soles you'd think they'd never been worn outside the store.
I got two Marmot jackets, one Gore-tex with an insulated liner, and one of which is a windproof shell that should do really well as a cycling jacket (hence the "barely cycling-related" post). They were $60 each. Couple of other gadgets, petzl headlamp, etc.
All in all, it was a good trip. Anyone else have deals they got from one of these gear sales?