I'm with you Ige, I try to avoid REI when I can. When Mountain Miser closed that put a dent in full line retailers for outdoor junk. The Englewood Army Surplus had some stuff. Problem is there just aren't that many places other than REI anymore unfortunately.
FWIW, REI is a member owned co-op, so any profit is returned as dividends to the membership, rather than a strictly for-profit corporation like Wal-Mart. But they are a big organization, that's for sure.
"Silent enim leges inter arma." -- Cicero