Best Outdoor Store - 2005
REI is an excellent place to experience outdoor-store psychosis, where you'll pick up an ax and think, "Yeah, ice climbing ...," or start seriously comparing rock-climbing clips. The place is pristine, a shrine to the well-heeled explorer, and the breadth of products is nearly absurd, with 14 different lights to wear on your forehead, four different ice-climbing axes, and freeze-dried bananas foster. Specializing in camping, climbing, cycling, kayaking, and snow sports, REI also has an impressive selection of electronics, toys, and books and maps. The staff is helpful and smart, apt to launch into miniseminars right there in the aisles. REI is a co-op, and membership privileges include yearly refund checks on eligible purchases. Self-service Web kiosks and price scanners are available on the floor, and should you make it upstairs, you'll drown in a sea of clothing.