REI Closes Its Doors On Black Friday, Invites America To OptOutside

In a bold retail move, specialty outdoor retailer REI, the largest consumer co-op in the United States, is eschewing the consumerism of Black Friday and encouraging people to spend the day after Thanksgiving outside.

All 143 of REI’s retail locations, its HQ and two distribution centers will be shuttered — and all of their 12,000 employees will be paid on this off day. To encourage the movement, REI is inviting customers and visitors to REI.com to #OptOutside.

The REI.com site will feature a black takeover screen to encourage customers to take part as well on 27 November.

Jerry Stritzke, President and CEO of REI underscored the reasoning for the move.

"Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We're closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”

Stritzke continued with a pointed assessment of the company’s ethos and the dangers of blatant consumerism, “We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.

Already a well-regarded and respected outdoor brand that backs up its commitment with $5.9m given to more than 300 nonprofits that take care of 1,000 outdoor spaces in communities across America in 2015 alone, #OptOutside has immediately touched a positive nerve in social media, including from some high-profile and influential organizations such as the Sierra Club and EcoWatch.

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