I finally visited REI in Fairfax today. I fear i'm going to spend my next few paychecks in that place. Absolutely outstanding service/selection.
Actually, as REI's go, that's a pretty small one. Bailey's Crossroads is quite a bit bigger (full selection of kayaks/canoes, for example). College Park is another big one. And it is said they don't compare to the home store in Seattle, but I haven't had chance to visit that one yet.
But yeah, I drop a lot of coin in the Fairfax one. And generally their service is outstanding, as you noted. Have an REI credit card that gets me $4-500 in rebates annually to spend there
Camping/backpacking gear, Yakima roof rack systems, footwear, outdoor clothing, etc.
We got a membership as a wedding gift in 1987.