On March 3rd I called REI to make sure that the hiking shoes I wanted and arrived in the size that I need. The guy on the phone remembered me and put them aside for me, which was really nice and made me feel even better about buying them there.
Naturally, I had Googled and I could by the shoes cheaper online, but you miss out on the benefit of having people and their knowledge to help you out. And REI has a membership program with coupons, dividends, and an amazing return policy. So for things that will be used to keep me safe and comfy I will get from them.
After work I head straight to the REI and ran into John, the guy that helped me the first time. We talked for a bit and he gave me some more info on the hike and then had to get back to work.
I went to the shoe area and talked to another really helpful employee dude about hiking socks. He gave me all the info you need to know about how to choose hiking socks and I got a pair.
Now I have hiking shoes, a pair of hiking socks, and a REI membership!