REI encourages to #OptOutside this Black Friday

I saw the most shocking thing in the news this week. No, it wasn’t the release of the Franken Frappuccino at Starbucks, but rather outdoor brand REI announced that it is planning to remain closed on Black Friday, encouraging shoppers and employees to #OptOutside.

All I have to say is that it’s about damn time.

Anyone who really knows me will know that Black Friday in general is a pet peeve of mind (Cyber Monday on the other hand…). The advertising begins earlier and earlier this year and it just sickens me. Guaranteed, we will be seeing ads for Black Friday beginning this week, and it’s not even Halloween yet.

It drives me crazy how we can’t just focus on the event in front of us, but rather looking ahead to the next two or three. Halloween hasn’t even happened yet and there are already Christmas commercials on TV (I’m looking at you Best Buy). Though it is subtle, the dialogue mentions Christmas shopping.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the holiday season. I love the atmosphere in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love the snow and the scents and the lights. But not the materialism. I just choose to block that part out of my mind and enjoy the rest of it, even though it’s hard with the media shoving it down our throats (I do understand why it needs to happen from a journalistic standpoint).

I’m writing today to applaud REI. It is a bold move, as many business get into the “black” (earning a profit) starting Black Friday. Direct from their website, REI says they “believe being outside makes our lives better” so they are closing their stores and paying their employees to be outside.

To me, that sounds like something direct from their mission statement, which if I learned anything so far in marketing, it’s that your business decisions must follow your mission statement, as it is the sole purpose for your organization.

Jerry Stritzke, CEO and President of REI put a message on their website, emphasizing that REI is a “different kind of company” and that “while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending the day a little differently….”

I’m well aware that REI will probably lose money going into the holiday season, falling behind their competitors in terms of profits, but it seems from this movement, they could care less. What’s a few lost dollars when you could be starting a trend that could spread to other retailers?  Just think, maybe in the next five years, we could have a Black Friday where maybe one-third of retailers decide to close (I know, wishful thinking).

I really hope this can catch on as a trend that other retailers hope to copy in years to come. Black Friday is pure mayhem that shows the worst society can get over material goods. That’s not what the holiday season is about. The fact that people are willing to literally risk their life to get a good deal is just ridiculous. It’s why I’ve never chosen to participate.



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