REI Wants You To Skip Black Friday, 'Opt Outside'

Tuesday, October 27th 2015, 3:00 pm
By: News 9

While Black Friday shoppers are fighting it out in store aisles, REI wants you to spend time in the great outdoors.

As part of their "Opt Outside" campaign, the retailer will close all 143 of its stores on November 27 and pay their employees to play outside.

"I think it's important for brands to always be true to who they are, and for us, encouraging people to get outside particularly on a holiday like Thanksgiving, we do believe that is an important message," REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

The idea began nine months ago when REI challenged its employees to brainstorm ways the company could do something authentic during one of the busiest shopping days of the year, where 87 million people participated last year alone, according to the National Retail Federation.

"I have to admit it was a bit shocking, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got about it as an idea," Stritzke said. "One, that our associates would love, but two, as a co-op, we have five million members that love the outdoors. We just really believe they would get into it as well."

While skeptics might view this campaign as a PR ploy, Stritzke insisted it's about brand authenticity.

"I actually don't expect to see a bunch of other retailers closing on Black Friday, so the skeptics should think about that for a minute," Stritzke said.

In 2014, REI made $2.2 billion in sales, and this year has been a good year for them as well, Stritzke said.

"This is actually our second year of double-digit growth," he said.

But there's no doubt REI, who has made Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" list since 1998, wants the spotlight for their move, even releasing an ad to let people know they will be closed.

"The contrast between I think what is happening today on Black Friday and then the joy associated with being outside is rather stark, so it's a particularly good day to make the point about how powerful it is to get outside," Stritzke said.