REI wants me to stop buying stuff (except for the things that really matter)



I received an 8-1/2″ x 11″ color booklet in the mail from REI. On the second page it tells about the pitfalls of wanting more stuff. It says that if something doesn’t make us “laugh and sweat and surprise ourselves” then it’s just another thing. We’re also told:

“As malls fill up and credit cards overheat, let’s get back to what really matters.”

So I turned the pages to find out what really matters. As it turns out, what really matters is a $350 YETI brand cooler that keeps snacks ice cold and dry. Also, lots of expensive shirts, jackets, and shoes. A $400 GoPro camera really matters. As does a $35 “Stanley Shaker Happy Hour System.”

REI, please don’t pretend you are somehow morally superior regarding consumerism, while at the same time suggesting that we buy your costly YETI coolers. Just admit that you’re no different than any other retailer trying to cash in on the holidays. We’ll respect you more.

If you really want to be different, make “opted out” the default for receiving glossy paper catalogs from you. Stop making your name so prominent on clothing and gear that I can’t use it without feeling like a walking billboard. 

Finally, if you’re worried about credit cards overheating, stop asking me to get an REI-branded credit card. 


it gets worse at 24-hour fitness


I said I wouldn’t complain again about the music on the PA system at 24-Hour Fitness. I even praised them when for a day or two they switched to something that didn’t make me gag.

Of course they always returned to music that I describe as endlessly repeating bleeps and farts. Insultingly bad music that reaches into your head to stomp brain cells. It’s an odd strategy for a health club – playing tunes that make people want to cry and give up.

How could it get worse? By putting advertisements into the mix. Yes, these songs that resemble the soundtracks to chewing gum commercials are now interspersed with spoken ads. Today I heard an ad for Justin Bieber (the King Joffrey of pop). I was supposed to buy something and win tickets to a Bieber concert.

They also introduced a 24-Hour Fitness channel on the TVs in the workout rooms. The channel shows bad music videos interspersed with ads for the powdered protein crap they sell by the check-in counter. Are there any suckers who buy that stuff? There must be a few.

Why does this business work so hard to make the environment as unpleasant as possible for customers? I know they pretty much have me trapped – it’s right across the street from where I work. I don’t have other choices beyond going out into the rain and breathing auto fumes. But still, why bother poking the proverbial sharp stick in my eye?

My guess is that someone told 24-Hour Fitness that they could monetize the environment in the health club. It must have been a realization akin to being struck by lightning.

My god, they thought, most of our customers have working ears and we’re not shooting ads into their heads as they exercise! Good lord, these people have eyes and we’re not putting enough commercials in their faces.

“This is going to be easy. We just put sales pitches on repeat everywhere and it will turn into money.”