Thanks for the reply.  I spoke with the Roseville MN store manager, who directed me to the customer service phone number. REI informed me that this kayak is no longer in stock, and that they will not be ordering more of them. What this means is that my wife and I purchased a damaged kayak from REI and cannot exchange it for a new, undamaged model. I think what we will do is return the kayak, get $2,999 back, and then purchase the same kayak from another source (not sure where yet). I'm bummed out about this as we've been REI members for years and have been looking forward to purchasing our tandem kayak. For other REI members, I would suggest that you do a very careful inspection of a kayak before taking it away from the store, and if it has been damaged in transit, do not accept the kayak and hope that the model hasn't been discontinued from REI's offerings. This is not a situation that you want to be in.

Our interactions with REI staff have been very good, but we've ended up in a situation that I, as a member of REI, never expected. As an REI member I will be more wary of this kind of purchase in the future.