I am a former REI employee, having worked at the HQ in Kent for a few years. This was when REI was just starting online and the new flagship in Seattle was opened (ok, so I'm old!). I really enjoyed working there and the perks that went with it. Can't beat the benefits of working for REI, at least then, don't know about now.
I'm so glad that they have a Tacoma store. This one has a great location, even though getting into the parking lot can be challenging. It's not as big as the Seattle store nor does it have the selection that they do. REI stores are purposely this way as part of the business design, so that they can gain more sales online and by moving product from store to store.
Friendly, incredibly knowledgeable staff as always (they have to be), superior product, and a great return policy if something goes wrong. The prices are a little high, but that's because you're also paying for the expertise of the staff and the quality of service and product. Sporting goods are notoriously made crappy, like baby products. But at REI, you KNOW that they only buy the best to sell to you. So buy with confidence, as you get what you pay for (and no, I have no affiliation with them anymore - that was years ago!).