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Trying to get some first hand experience from people who have worked at the REI bike shops compared to local private bike shops...

I’ve been working in local, privately owned shops for the last 8 years. I’ve been shop manager, work my ass off, but never have any benefits and pay is just ok. I was recently offered the shop manager position at my current shop for $1 more per hour, no benefits and simple IRA.

I interviewed with REI last week and was offered a job in the bike tech debt today.REI is supposed to be sending me info on what they are offering to pay and if any benefits are included.

So....anyone ever worked for REI bike dept?
Any input?
 

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Trying to get some first hand experience from people who have worked at the REI bike shops compared to local private bike shops...

I’ve been working in local, privately owned shops for the last 8 years. I’ve been shop manager, work my ass off, but never have any benefits and pay is just ok. I was recently offered the shop manager position at my current shop for $1 more per hour, no benefits and simple IRA.

I interviewed with REI last week and was offered a job in the bike tech debt today.REI is supposed to be sending me info on what they are offering to pay and if any benefits are included.

So....anyone ever worked for REI bike dept?
Any input?
One of our mechs went to our REI and the first thing they did was send him to Barnett’s in Colorado for two weeks training.
 

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I never worked at REI but have been a member for 40-odd years. Thinking I might work there part time after retirement, I often asked people how they liked their jobs. The response was always positive. People in the REI near me seemed relaxed and pleasant, a good sign. If the offer is good and the work sounds like something you'd like, give it a shot. Besides benefits, an advantage to working for a big company is the possibility for advancement, especially if you're able/willing to relocate.
 

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My FIL works at REI.

He worked as a consultant/account manager for tech companies like HP for 40+ years. He’s a mechanical engineer by training, and finds something comforting about working on bikes.

He’s worked for them for three years now. Bikes in the warm months, skis in the cold. He likes REI and his coworkers, but the manager is OK.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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My SIL is a big rock climber and hiker -- worked at REI for several years and she really liked it. I think the only reason she left was to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
 

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I understand the struggles of trying to provide benefits as a small employer, but as an employee I can't imagine working very far into adulthood at a job that doesn't at least pay part of a health insurance policy, or at least pays high enough to partially offset that expense. REI is a large company and possibly (probably?) can negotiate with insurers/investment firms to provide some sort of benefits to their employees whereas a mom-and-pop LBS really can't.

I remember when some friends and I were working at a LBS and all about to graduate college and move onto other careers. The owner lamented, "I need to find a 'Lifer', someone willing to work for the middling wages this business allows". IMO, unless you're the owner and doing some of your own wrenching/sales/management, there's very few people who are going to fit that bill.
 

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Bike shops I had:
  • San Antonio Trek dealer for one year. I was laid off at my salaried magazine editing job in 2009 and couldn't find another job to save my life. I was there about a year a learned a LOT because the other mechanics took me in as an apprentice. I assumed nothing about my abilities. $8 an hour was better than being unemployed in my late 20s. management was a mixed bag. we started calling it "Thunderdome" when management would randomly fire someone or change a policy without informing us.
  • after a year, I moved to Atlanta where I volunteered at a co-op. I worked for perhaps a month at Performance Bikes and it was a joke! I was embarrassed to work there because the corporate philosophy forced us to do sloppy work with an aggressive schedule, but they never gave me over 20 hours a week to work. $8 an hour
  • I worked for about another year at a different Trek dealer in Atlanta that was run by a great family. It was warm and welcoming there and I did good work. I don't think the shop was doing all that well, so the pay was not a big upgrade for me at $9.
  • I worked at Atlanta Cycling, which was closer to home and paid me a LOT more. consistent hours, profit-sharing when the shop performed well, solid training and I was proud of my work! unfortunately I was only there a year before moving to Texas. If you're in ATL that's a solid shop that treats customers and staff right.
  • I started working at REI when I moved. good hours if you're willing to branch out and work the general sales floor, front registers, teach classes, etc. benefits were good at first but then they dropped the insurance for part-timers. I worked there for nearly three years before finally getting back to my preferred field. REI when it's at its best provides excellent training and an opportunity to do good work that makes you proud. until recently, they maintained customers' service records on PAPER FORMS like it was 1980. they also planned out labor weeks and weeks ahead of time based on corporate-style projections. so if you hit a large rush on bike labor, there's no option to put more labor hours in the shop. You just start getting embarrassed when you tell customers that there is one person working non-stop in the shop even though there are four mechanics on staff, and it will take five weeks to get their bikes back when you know you'd get bike labor turned around in 48 hours if they would just put their mechanics on the schedule.
overall, working at REI was a very positive experience but it depends on the local management. they use Barnett's practices for working on bikes. if you stick around long enough and show commitment, REI will send you to Barnett's on their dime. you can also get all kinds of massive discounts on gear, bikes and otherwise. I think I paid $75 for a new Thule hitch rack when the had a "mega pro-deal" on it. pre-shopping the garage sale days is fun too.

every so often, I consider going back to REI to work part time. I think they would hire me, but I know they would want me to work weekends. I already work a 9–5 job, so the extra time working there on weekends. I enjoyed my time there tremendously, but not enough to give up my precious weekends!

I'd have a hard time deciding if I would rather work at REI or a good local shop. I think that if I had stayed in Atlanta, I'd still be working at Atlanta Cycling, or I'd be there for several years. at REI, you can only ever really be a number in the grand scheme of things. it's just such a huge company. at a good local bike shop, they treat you like family, you share the wealth, and you strive to do your best work because your personal success is closely tied up with theirs.
 

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Trying to get some first hand experience from people who have worked at the REI bike shops compared to local private bike shops...

I’ve been working in local, privately owned shops for the last 8 years. I’ve been shop manager, work my ass off, but never have any benefits and pay is just ok. I was recently offered the shop manager position at my current shop for $1 more per hour, no benefits and simple IRA.

I interviewed with REI last week and was offered a job in the bike tech debt today.REI is supposed to be sending me info on what they are offering to pay and if any benefits are included.

So....anyone ever worked for REI bike dept?
Any input?
Congratulations! And I hope your offer details are to your satisfaction.

As others have mentioned, overall very positive impression of REI though exact work environment will vary by locale/specific manager.

Good luck!
 

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Out spokin'
In cog? Neato!
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After retiring from a 30 year career in the newspaper business, I got a part-time job at my local REI for something to do. I didn't work in the bike shop but I was on the sales floor so I sold bikes. In fact that's probably the key reason REI hired me -- I had experience with bikes (plus an outgoing personality plus sales experience). Anyway I personally felt REI's benefits package was very fair. Naturally I became friends with the manager of the bike department. He came from an independent shop background and eventually realized that if he stayed with independent bike shops, he'd never be able to retire. When I met him he'd worked for REI for 15 years and was looking forward to retiring -- financially successfully thanks to REI's retirement benefits options.

As for my motivation to work for REI, I simply enjoyed the job (it's a fun place to work), my co-workers and the pro-deals. I was there nearly 5 years before COVID furloughed me. When REI eventually called me to return to work, I said, "Thanks but at 66 I'm unwilling to work retail during a pandemic." So I retired for real. I miss my friends at REI, but can't deny that I enjoy being fully retired even more. :)
=sParty
 

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This amazes me that some of you were working for $8.00 an hour as late as ‘09. I was paying my mechanics 16-19 an hour in ‘01!
(’resort’ town near Jackson Hole, so different economy).
Be curious what REI pays for a solid, reliable, career mechanic without a weed problem:ROFLMAO:
 

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as of 2017, I think REI was paying me around $13.50 an hour. the industry is not doing a terrific job of keeping mechanics in the field, which is a topic that's been discussed to death.

yeah, my first few jobs were essentially minimum wage gigs. better than unemployment, but but pretty depressing for someone with a four-year college degree and a passion for doing good work.

then again, I left bike shops (for good?) to get a job in "journalism" writing tourism magazine articles and proofreading newspapers for $15 and hour in Austin, where that is getting harder to support the cost of living. after two years there, they raised me to $15.30 after dumping tons of extra responsibility on me, stellar performance reviews, and multiple self-started initiatives to make our practices better. that's another industry that drags itself along with a business model that assumes a high turnover rate.
 
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