Outdoor gear and sporting goods retail giant REI is doing something most retail chains would never dream of: it is staying closed on Black Friday — the busiest shopping day of the year — giving more than 12,000 employees an additional paid day off, and urging shoppers to go outside rather than participate in the consumer feeding frenzy that follows the caloric apocalypse of Thanksgiving.
Even the company's website will have a screen urging shoppers to go outdoors and is encouraging others to do the same with a social media campaign, #OptOutside. The site will remain operational, however.
"We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand," CEO Jerry Stritzke told CNN, while acknowledging that closing will negatively impact revenue.
Unlike other companies, REI doesn't answer to shareholders: it's a consumer co-op where customers buy in and receive annual dividends based on how much they've spent.
"This business centers [on] the outdoors," Stritzke explained to CNN. "Thus, we can do something like close our doors on Black Friday and we'll have the membership that'll think that's cool."
In a letter posted to REI's website, Stritzke elaborated on the company's motivation:
"For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth.
We're a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we'll be spending our day a little differently. We're choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us."
It's an interesting alternative to the madness of Black Friday.
Why subject yourself to long lines, huge amounts of stress and angry shoppers after spending a day considering the things and people in your life that you feel gratitude for? Is there any "deal" or "discount" that is really worth all that? Is there anything that you can't find online that really demands sitting in traffic, pushing through herds of tired, grumpy people and maxing out your credit cards?
You tell us.