When I started rafting on my own about 4 years ago I knew very little about the sport after being out of it for 12 years or so since I was a kid. I went with my uncle a lot as a kid and only went to DRE beacuse thats where he had been goin since the mid 80s.
I went in there and told an employee I was headed down to Westwater for a couple weeks for some training, it was late May in 2008 and running at 18k- 21k at the time and we talked about this and that I may do some swimming. He tried to sell me a Stolquist wind breaker to use as a dry top! This was the best thing they had in stock... what a joke, and worse to tell me ya this will work good. Not safe to tell a newb they can swim in this crap gear. Keep in mind I did not know about NRS, Clavey, AAA etc... I was a looking at the jacket thinkin ya right, I don't want to wear this in weak rainstorm let alone swimming rapids especially May high water WW. The first "salesman" walked away and another employee came up who I should mention no longer works there and said, "you'd be better off goin to REI you don't want this down there" referring to the jacket. I left. I went to the store again for something and learned the first guy I talked to was the owner! Then I learned about AAA went in, got a bad ass NRS dry top was told to get poly pro on under it neoprene and went on my way with quality gear and real advice. I call the people at DRE salesman beacause thats what they are. You are lucky to find a real river person in there and if you do thery're lookin at you thinkin $! I got more stories about DRE too and why I won't go in there.