REI Won’t Open On Black Friday, Tells Everyone To Go Play Outside

The outdoor equipment co-op REI sells gear for people to have fun, well, outdoors. That’s why it makes sense that they’ve started a campaign encouraging all of us to spend the day after Thanksgiving having fun outside. Oh, and they’re including store employees in that mandate: stores will be closed, and employees will have that day off with pay.

This is all part of a broader campaign called Opt Outside, or #optoutside. It’s not surprising that an outdoor equipment company would tell their customers to spend a day that many people have off work having fun outside, since that’s what they’re about. The part where they’re closing stores on such a popular shopping day: that’s unusual, even if it is a publicity stunt.

The president and CEO of the co-op put an open letter on the campaign page, explaining the campaign’s very on-brand logic:

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.

This plan may not be cheap: in addition to forgoing sales and giving employees a paid day off, depending on the terms of their leases, stores in malls may have to pay fines for not being open along with their neighbors.

If you’re the sort of person who is an REI member or shopper, this will definitely resonate with you. In a retail environment where declaring that you won’t open on Thanksgiving Day is taking a bold stand, though, this is an even bolder stand.

REI IS CLOSING ON BLACK FRIDAY [REI] (Thanks to Casey, Wes, and Jared!)