Tanka wins over picky kiddos and buffalo doubters at Seattle REI

June 13, 2011

Tanka wins over picky kiddos and buffalo doubters at Seattle REI
The Tanka Team recently visited several REI locations across the U.S. during the outdoor retailer's Anniversary Sale. Tanka team members offered samples to REI customers and educated staff and shoppers about Tanka products. Here our Tanka Warrior, Curtis Hembroff, shares his photos and experience at REI Seattle.

I began an amazing three-week journey through the Evergreen State at the flagship Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) store in Seattle. If you have never been to this store, it is difficult to imagine the shopping experience.

buffaloStore 11 can be divided in to five major categories of retail space -- climbing, camping, skiing, paddling, and cycling. Intermingled within these categories are the clothing and shoes that would accommodate the respective activity. The store also includes several "interactive areas." The interactive areas give customers the opportunity to demo a variety of equipment.

"The Pinnacle" is a massive freestanding indoor climbing wall encased in glass. It has become an icon of REI and is a familiar site to commuters on the I-5 Freeway. In addition, the store boasts a 470-foot mountain bike test trail where customers can find the perfect bike. If that is not enough, the base of the building is surrounded in lush foliage and the setting feels even more remote near the pristine waterfall and stream.

REI has made a commitment to energy and material efficiency and has demonstrated this by reducing waste and increasing recycled content. For example, over 75 percent of material from demolition of the previous structure was recycled or salvaged, with portions of the material re-used in the construction of the new store -- now that makes cents.

Giving Tanka to the masses

The first day began at 9 a.m. on Saturday; typically REI doesn't open until 10 a.m., but on this day the store was already crawling with customers. By 10 a.m. the checkout line extended to the entrance of the building and I felt like I was in an ant farm. So many people were expected that the City of Seattle actually modified traffic and temporarily made a street one-way to accommodate the stampede of outdoor enthusiasts.

buffaloI was fortunate to be centered in front of the large fire place that welcomes customers into the open atrium. Nearly everyone was exposed to the Tanka Bar logo and as loud as I talk, most people heard some of our story.

The fire attracted children likes moths and it wasn't long before kids were swarming the faux rocks and their curiosity turned towards the table of buffalo delecacies.

"I wanna try one," they cried, "Mom! Please!"

After clearing it with their parents, I was happy to provide samples to all the Little Tanka Warriors in attendance. Many parents were shocked to see how much their children enjoyed the Tanka products.

They were even more overjoyed to learn how healthy of a snack/meal Tanka Bar is.

"My kid won't eat anything!" one mother told me as she loaded up her basket, "Now I know what to put in their lunch boxes!"

Indeed, Tanka Bars are heaven sent to mothers of picky eaters. Never fear, Tanka Bar is super healthy and its so good, your child isn't going to trade it for ho-hos at the lunch table.

As the day wore on, I had the opportunity to meet hundreds of REI customers. Some were already rabid fans of Tanka Bar; others tried our products for the first time and became self-proclaimed lifelong fans. Unfortunately, there were a few vegetarian customers, but they promised if/when they converted back Tanka Bar would be on their menu.

REI employees and why they rock

The REI staff was also incredible. Very few businesses boast the employee satisfaction that REI does. Despite all of my experiences with REI, I continue to be amazed by the morale of REI employees; they really love their jobs. Given that, I had a great time hanging out with the staff. Many of which already were hooked on buffalo and cranberry and I began to wonder if they actually liked me or just wanted to eat samples.

Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to tell them about the new products in their store, Tanka Wild Sticks and our Tanka Dogs, available in a growing number of retailers and at our online store.

Enjoying Washington

Following the two days at REI Seattle, I had the opportunity to work with REIs in Tacoma, Tukwila, Alderwood and Edmonton as well as the East and West Olympia Co-ops. Washington is gorgeous during the spring and following all the tastings I was ready for my own recreational adventure.

A few friends and I headed east to Crescent Bar. This is a small resort community adjacent the Columbia River. It was beautiful. After getting our fill of nature, I spent my remaining days in Washington enjoying all the fine dining and entertainment before heading back to LA.

I miss you Washington, I'll be back!

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