#OptOutside: REI Boycotts Black Friday Shopping by Closing All Stores


REI #OptOutside

Most retailers hire extra staff to help them get through Black Friday and the holiday season. After all, the Friday after US Thanksgiving is when the big bucks start rolling in after consumers wait out in the cold for hours to get annual “doorbusting” savings. Some retailers are so anxious to get things started that they’ve started to open their doors on Thanksgiving itself, breaking up family dinners early by offering enticing big-dollar savings.

REI Black Friday 2015 #optoutside

REI has had enough. In keeping with its brand DNA, the outdoor sporting goods behemoth would rather have its customers and employees actually go outside and enjoy their lives for the day rather than spend it competing with other bag-laden shoppers. REI will close the doors on its 143 stores that day and pay its 12,000 employees to not come to work.

REI #OptOutside

This is the ultimate nod to REI’s mantra: Being outside makes life better. “Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth,” said CEO Jerry Stritzke, according to Forbes. “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.”

Stritzke humorously appears in a new ad showcasing the #OptOutside movement. It features him sitting at his desk, which appears to be in his office. With the zoom of a lens, though, it becomes clear that Stritzke’s office is exactly where you’d imagine REI’s CEO to be: outside, in the mountains.

While the retailer doesn’t want customers coming to its stores on Black Friday, it would love for them to help its marketing efforts via social media. The business is asking consumers to post images of themselves enjoying the natural world on Black Friday with the hashtag #OptOutside.

It’s not just customers who are posting on social media — witness this exchange with a grateful employee, Doug Carr, on the retailer’s Twitter feed:

REI employee #Optoutside Twitter

It comes with a financial cost for the retailer. REI brought in $2.2 billion in sales in 2015 and Black Friday was one of its top ten sales days of the year, USA Today reports. Will the public gratitude for the anti-consumerism move translate into more business the rest of the year?

“The thing that is powerful to me is this clearly is not a financially self-serving act,” Stritzke stated. “It’s an act where we’re really making a very clear statement about a set of values.”

Judging by the outpouring of support on social media, a lot of consumers people agree.