As a former REI Employee, I applaud REI’s decision to #optoutside on Black Friday

Black Fridayby Heather Kallevig

Halloween is just around the corner and while many are enthusiastically awaiting the arrival of ghosts, goblins, and sweets, others are turning their minds to upcoming holidays particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It’s a common complaint, as Christmas decorations begin to trickle into store aisles in late September that the holiday season is coming earlier and earlier every year, and with it the shopping season.  Many blame consumer businesses for driving the materialism that often pervades Christmas, those stores who depend on the last months of the year to keep their records in the black.

Black Friday #optoutside

The encouragement to “shop till you drop” has been a major theme of the holiday season for decades.  In our modern society, where many are beginning to seek minimalism, authenticity, and rebel against consumerism, we are beginning to see a change in this holiday shopping scheme.  Black Friday, in most stores, is not nearly as wild and crazy as it was in the 90s and early 2000s.  Whether this is because most consumers prefer to shop online rather than face the crowds, or people are less enthused about buying more “stuff” is hard to tell.  Savvy stores are starting to take notice and are responding to consumer sentiment.

Anchorage REIWhile shop till you drop, and spending money to buy holiday gifts is a fantastic business ploy, and a great way to ensure you have a successful quarter, one store is pushing back, choosing to embrace the values that have established its company culture.  As a former employee, I am not surprised REI has decided to make its employees’ holidays a priority and is giving them the day after Thanksgiving off.  I worked for the Anchorage REI for a year, and it was the best work environment I had ever been a part of.  As an employee I felt valued, respected, and cared for by my managers and my colleagues, not to mention the shoppers who entered our store.

Yesterday I received an email from REI announcing they’d be abstaining from the Black Friday madness, choosing instead to #optoutside and encourage their employees to take the day to celebrate the great outdoors rather than the indoors of a store.

Business-minded individuals may question the idea, but I applaud REI for this decision and hope more companies follow suit, making #optoutside a movement to improve our nation’s company culture and redirect the holiday season to those issues that really matter – family, friends, and making memories.  I know this stance solidifies my decision to shop REI for my personal needs and holiday gifts, not only are their items top of the line, their values are high quality too.

Follow this link to learn more about REI’s #optoutside.

REI closed on Black Friday

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