REI made headlines when it announced that it would close all of its brick and mortar stores, as well as online shop, on the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday. Instead of chasing the almighty dollar on a day that should be about spending time with your family, the company elected to give all of its employees the day off, and encourage them – as well as the rest of us – to head outside for an adventure. They even used the hashtag #OptOutside to promote the movement, which was adopted by several other outdoor brands like Outdoor Research as well.
Yesterday, REI announced that it will again be closed on Black Friday, and that it is encouraging its employees and customers to skip the crazy shopping madness that is typical for the day, and instead head outside to enjoy some time with nature. That means that on November 25 all 149 REI stores will be closed, and the company's more than 12,000 employees will be free to spend time with friends and family, as well as pursue their favorite outdoor adventures.
In addition to that, over 275 national and local organizations are joining in on the fun this year as well. Those entities will also be encouraging their communities to #OptOutside on Black Friday too, as this movement seems to be picking up even more steam heading into its second year.
REI has also launched an activity finder on the #OptOutside website to help you find organized events, and other things to do, on November 25. That search engine lists local hikes, trail running outings, organized mountain bike rides, climbing excursions, skiing trips, and more. If you're at a loss for things to do where you live, this will surely help.
Obviously REI received a ton of publicity for its decision to close its doors on Black Friday last year. The company more than made up the revenue it would have made on that day with the exposure it received with the #OptOutside campaign. But it would be easy to dismiss this as just a marketing scheme if I hadn't met some of the representatives of the company a few weeks back. It is clear that the gear retailer genuinely cares about helping its staff, members, and customers to get outside and enjoy their time in nature, and while #OptOutside has been a good marketing campaign, the people who run the company definitely believe in the message they are sharing too. You don't find that in too many companies these days, and it is refreshing to say the least.
This attitude also makes it easy to want to support REI too. Which is exactly what I'll be doing on November 25. Hopefully you will too.