REI consumer co-op breaks Black Friday tradition


As fall term comes to an end and the holiday season fast approaches, so, too, does the holiday shopping season.

The day after Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday, marks the unofficial first day of the monthlong consumer-spending spree in a typically unceremonious fashion.

Retailers open as early as midnight on Thanksgiving, offering slashed prices to shoppers that venture out in the early hours to save on their deals.

While it may appear to be a case of economic “early bird catches the worm,” what has ensued in stores across the United States in recent years is not something to be advertised.

Stampedes of shoppers flood the aisles, often fighting over big-ticket items and creating a frenzy in what was just a few days ago your average local Wal-Mart.

Retail workers (while often compensated for their odd schedules) are tasked with maintaining the chaos for hours on end. In some cases, they must even cut their Thanksgivings short in preparation for the madness.

However, this won’t be the case for some 12,000 workers, as REI plans to close its doors on Black Friday. CEO Jerry Stritzke announced on Oct. 26 that all of REI’s stores would close for the day and pay their employees to head outside. This movement was coined by the brand as #OptOutside.

On a day when most companies in the retail industry aim to maximize their profits, REI has elected to give its employees a paid day off. REI’s motive is to encourage its employees to spend time out of the aisles and in nature. While the move in itself is a clever business tactic, as the sentiment will likely encourage future buyers to shop at REI, it gives good food for thought.

While few may be out that morning shopping for essentials, many are buying gifts and favors for others. #OptOutside poses the question: Why not show thanks by simply spending time with those people? This isn’t to denounce holidays or to become anti-gift giving; rather, it is meant to take time to appreciate the things we gave thanks for the day before, like our families.

Of course there are plenty of civilized shoppers out on Black Friday; who doesn’t appreciate a good deal when it’s offered? But #OptOutside, if nothing else, serves as a reminder that sometimes the best things in life are free.


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