Earlier this week, I paused from my daily pursuits to embark on a pilgrimage to the mecca of outdoor adventure retail: the REI flagship store in Seattle. Oh, sure, I rationalized: it’s a business trip, an industry association meeting. An opportunity to visit with clients as well as generate new leads. But really, that was just the motive engine… the means… my transport to the REI store.

And what a store. It’s got everything an outdoor enthusiast could possibly want, with the possible exception of guns and ammo. Bikes, kayaks, climbing gear and a multi-story, glass-enshrined rock wall. And the fleece. So much fleece. Fleece of every weight and color. Pull over fleece, three-quarter and full zip fleece. More fleece than even I could imagine wearing in a lifetime.

While REI is not a religion, per se, it is a coop (and a cult) and it’s members are strongly encouraged to make the journey to the flagship store at least once in their lifetimes. But  here’s the thing: putting me in the middle of the REI flagship store is like putting an alcoholic in the center of a bar, which in turn, is surrounded by other bars, spanning out in concentric circles. Fortunately, I didn’t venture to REI alone. I went with a similarly afflicted cultist and together we walked the line from temptation to temptation.

I purchased nothing. For I knew that if I bought one thing: a carabiner, a nalgene, a pair of sock liners, that it would all come crashing down. Unable to stop, I would not leave until I had transferred at least $2,000 from my purse to theirs. So with willpower and support, the wall held and temptation had been averted.

It’s a daily struggle to overcome the urge to spend money at REI. And yes, sometimes I do succumb. But not this week.

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