SEATTLE, Wash. – While many retailers are loath to close their store and risk profitable sales, most would be petrified about the idea of giving up revenue on the nation’s biggest shopping day. But one company, that happens to have a healthy amount of survival gear in its merchandising mix, proved that living its values over the prospect of a quick buck will actually pay more in the long run.
Last year when the outdoor co-op REI announced it was closing its stores on Black Friday to encourage shoppers to instead “#OptOutside,” it was considered a well-planned, but risky publicity stunt.
Yet by the time the dust settled on the 2015 Thanksgiving shopping weekend, not only had the store’s decision gained international attention and millions of dollars in free advertising via media coverage, REI’s revenue jumped nearly 10 percent, while its co-op grew by more than 1 million members.
Needless to say, the company’s gamble to close on one of the largest shopping days in the U.S. was a huge success financially and for its brand. And well, it’s at it again.
Some participating survival gear companies familiar to the prepper world include the tactical clothing company Arc’Teryx, the hiking boot company KEEN and the REI competitor Outdoor Research.
This week, the $2.4 billion outdoor co-op, announced that it will close its doors once more on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Stepping up its effort to create a cultural counterweight to Black Friday, REI says that it is giving OptOutside to the outdoor community to “lift up and celebrate the people who dedicate their lives to the outdoors.”
Interestingly enough, a network of organizations has united already to mobilize millions more to embrace the outdoors and create a new holiday tradition for all Americans.
“This year, REI will shut down on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because fundamentally we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America ‘Will you go out with us?’”
REI is putting power in the hands of more than 6 million co-op members and lovers of the outdoors, asking every individual to invite someone else to choose the outdoors over fighting it out in the aisles. REI.com/opt-outside will serve as the hub to get involved, declare support, invite others to join the movement or simply find a place to play outdoors. Visitors can upload photos, share through social media, discover thousands of trails and parks nearby or get connected with non-profits that steward the outdoors.
REI has united more than 275 non-profit, government and corporate partners to inspire millions of people to hit the trails, parks and waterways on November 25. Details on the partners and stories of their contributions can be read on the Co-op Journal.
Stritzke continued, “The moment we announced our decision last year, people who build their lives around the outdoors really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI. #OptOutside should be a platform for the nonprofits and public servants who are on the front lines of the outdoor community. They’re the ones who make the outdoors accessible for everyone. That’s why, from today onward, we’re going to lift them up as the official spokespeople for #OptOutside.”
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than six million active members. REI has 148 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/REI-Garage or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 170 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities.