Instead of catering to deal-hungry shoppers, REI is paying its employees to spend the day outside in nature and encouraging others to join the rebellion against the biggest shopping day of the year.
If you were hoping to hit up REI for some great deals this Black Friday, then you’re out of luck. The outdoor gear retailer has decided not to participate in Black Friday this year. All 143 of the company’s stores will be closing and employees will be paid to spend the day outside, rather than support the crazy and often pointless consumerism that ensues on the biggest shopping day of the year.
In a letter on REI’s website, president and CEO Jerry Stritzke explains why the company has decided to break with tradition:
“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.”
#OptOutside has become the rallying hashtag for this rebellion against Black Friday, and REI is urging people to sign up. You can share your own plans for Black Friday by selecting an activity and uploading an image of what you’ll be doing instead of shopping. Already, more than 808,000 people have promised to grab hiking boots, bicycles, and paddles instead of credit cards on November 17th.
Hopefully this number will expand into the millions as more people take a stance against shopping for unnecessary items just because they’re cheap and refuse to let corporate desires for profits be an occasion to witness appalling human behavior. There is another way of living, and REI offers important inspiration.
“We’d rather be in the mountains than in the aisles,” says Jerry Stritzke. That sounds lovely. On Black Friday, I will be hiking along the eastern ‘lighthouse’ coast of Lake Huron, nowhere near a shopping mall.