REI, the Seattle-based outdoor retailer that sells everything from camp stoves to canoes, has a message for our consumer-mad society.
Take a moment, and get outside.
The company announced that it will close its 143 brick-and-mortar stores on Nov. 27th, better known as “Black Friday” in the competitive retailing world.
That got us wondering what REI is doing with its popular online channels, including REI.com and REIOutlet.com. After all, about 20 percent of the company’s business is now conducted online.
Here’s what a spokeswoman at the retailer tells us:
We’d rather people spend the day outside, but people are free to visit the site and place an online order if they need to. When you visit REI.com on Black Friday a screen will tell you that we are closed for the day. Customers will still be able to view products or make a purchase (and we’ll encourage them to “opt outside” by driving online traffic to discover outdoor experiences in their communities) if they want. We just won’t process the order until the next day.
The company will not be adding any additional staff on Black Friday in the online operations, in part because the orders will not be processed until the next day.
The company is actively encouraging its members and customers to share photos of their outdoor exploits on social media at #OptOutside.
This is certainly a bold move by REI, which faces intense competition from Amazon.com, Cabela’s and others. But REI has always taken the path less traveled, harkening back to its roots.
“As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke in a press release. “We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles.”
REI boasts 5.5 million members, and it is the largest consumer co-op and speciality outdoor retailer in the country.
Here’s the note that REI CEO Jerry Stritzke sent to customers:
REI is closing on Black Friday.
You read that correctly. On November 27, we’ll be closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside.
Here’s why we’re doing it.
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.