REI Wants You to Skip the Lines and #OptOutside this Black Friday

As someone who has done more traveling and camping this past year than my entire life before, I have quickly become a huge advocate and lover of REI.

I love what they stand for, I love that they are a co-op, I love that they offer free classes, and I LOVE that every single person you meet in the store will not only be the friendliest, happier salesperson you’ve ever but, but they also happen to be extremely knowledgeable in all things outdoors.

As you can see, I like them a lot. This week, however, my love and respect for REI has skyrocketed.

Let me back up and first say that I have never been a big fan of Black Friday. Yes, as a marketing major and someone who’s worked in the industry, I understand the genius behind the tactic. It’s a great opportunity for brands and companies to get out of the red.

That being said, the real human in me hates it.

I remember being so excited to go to the mall at 6 am for my first Black Friday when I was 14. I had to wait until high school to go with friends, because my mom was sane and never wanted to deal with the chaos. Well, that excitement ended quickly as a realized how overwhelming and crazy everything gets. That was my first and last Black Friday shopping experience.

Since then, Black Friday has started earlier and earlier every year – to the point at which it no longer starts on Black Friday at all. I was abhorred last year at how many stores were starting their sales on the evening of Thanksgiving. Not only does that mean that those employees are missing their family time and meals in order to make some extra money, but the rest of us were skipping out early to get the best deals.

We were sacrificing a holiday that’s intended to bring all the family together in gratitude in order to get even more things at the cheapest price.

Needless to say, I think it’s ridiculous and absurd.

And that is exactly why I am BEYOND happy with the announcement that REI made this week.

This year, instead of offering sales and focusing on their bottom line, REI is focusing on its employees and community. Not only will it be closed on Thanksgiving, but ALL REI stores will be closed on Black Friday as well. It’s completely unprecedented – and utterly amazing.

REI is taking a direct action against the materialistic consumerism that defines Black Friday by asking their customers to spend their day doing the exact opposite. Using the hashtag #OptOutside, the company is encouraging everyone to forgo the shopping lines for some good old fresh air.

“Somebody has to be the one to kind of put their flag in the sand and say enough is enough,” says Brian Harrower, store manager at the REI in Bloomington, Minn. “That’s what #OptOutside is for us, is saying we’re going to be the first, we think this doesn’t make sense anymore, it’s not healthy. And an outdoor life is a healthy life.”


REI, you’re doing it right. This year, I’m thankful that there are companies out there who are looking out for more than their bottom line and encouraging people everywhere to live more healthy and active lifestyles.

We’re all about the #OptOutside revolution. Who’s with us?

REI opt outside

photos: REI, QFYC

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