San Antonio is the new home of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) ¿Qué es esto? At first glance, it’s a new store that sells outdoor equipment and sounds like a place where I wanted to take my family. Thankfully, we were invited to come take a sneak peek during the Friends and Family night last month. The store itself is open, bright and it’s easy to find what you need with all the signs. (bilingual signs at that). In our case, we could have found what we needed without the signs because the staff (they are the ones in the green vests) was so very helpful in assisting us.
On this trip, I wanted to find a backpack that I could use if my family were to go camping. I emphasize if because this isn’t something we normally do. Mi esposo is not the outdoors-y type and I haven’t been camping since my college days. Regardless, my hopes were to get some equipment to maybe get the family excited about new possibilities but we would need some guidance. As a previous retail store manager, I understand the challenges of having a staff trained efficiently to really help customers.
So, there we were in the store surrounded by mochilas. I had no idea there were so many to choose from … small, medium and large. I guess just grabbing one because se mira bonita wasn’t the best option. To my pleasant surprise, Phil, an REI employee, was there to help. He didn’t make us feel like he was just there to sell me a backpack. He took the time to ask me questions about what I would be doing with the backpack and why I needed it. Then, he used a fancy little tool to measure me for a backpack. I didn’t know you should be measured for a mochila! This is not Dora’s mochila, y’all. Once we did that and I secured the pack on me, he put some weight in the pack to give me an idea of what it would actually feel like once I had a full pack.
Did you know that when fitted properly the weight of the pack should rest on the low near your hip bone, not your shoulders? I didn’t but Phil did. What a difference!
Moving on … even though I loved the pack and learned several new things, I didn’t commit to that pack. I just kept questioning ‘are we really going to use this?’ Remember, this is all new to us.
After talking to my husband about maybe starting off with a family day time hike (in San Antonio
even), he was open enough to return to REI with me and this time we were greeted by Joe, an REI employee. We explained that we were interested in the backpacks but our trips probably wouldn’t be overnight like I had originally imagined. Joe, like Phil, asked more questions. Questions are a good thing gente. Especially when you (meaning me) don’t exactly know what you are looking for. Joe introduced us to a daytime pack. Perfecto! Joe not only fitted me but also got one on mi esposo. He carefully showed us all the features on the packs and again put weighted the packs to get the experience of what it would feel like and more importantly where the weight should be (not on your shoulders). We also picked out hydration packs for los ninos as they will be tagging along on our day hikes. With water on their backs, it’s one less thing for mama to carry.
San Antonio, don’t miss out on everything that REI has to offer.
GRAND OPENING is October 5-7. Get there early on Friday morning for prizes, breakfast and a huge San Antonio celebration with mariachis! They are located at Huebner and IH-10, 11745 IH-10 West, Suite 110, San Antonio, TX 78230.
Here’s one more thing I am really happy about. Their knowledgeable staff with keep the learning going with workshops. Hiking Basics, Family Camping Basics and more. Visit their calendar in store or online for more details and events.
Learn more about REI and their co-op at REI.com
Disclaimer ¿Qué Means What? was compensated with the backpacks from REI for this series of posts.