REI closing on Black Friday hopefully sparking change to come


Photo taken from the The Boston Herald

Cara Ward, Editor-In-Chief

Turkey fresh out of the oven, dining table set with the finest of china, football games echoing in the background and half the seats are left empty. In the past decade, more and more families have been skipping out earlier and earlier on traditional Thanksgiving festivities in order to celebrate a new holiday of the 21st century, Black Friday.

Since the dawn of Black Friday, it has been under criticism for turning a national holiday based around giving thanks and being with family into a night fueled by greed and consumerism.
After years of hearing the critics of Black Friday, outdoor and fitness retailer, REI has made the decision to keep it’s doors closed this Nov. 27.They have decided to stop being proprietors of the madness that is Black Friday and instead have started a campaign called #OptOutside. To encourage people to go outdoors instead of shopping.

Throughout the years this day has been criticized for a plethora of reasons however, REI is one of the first big companies to actually take the harsh criticism and make a change. There is a lot to be admired about a company that puts its values above its opportunity to make some easy money.

This day of intense shopping has always been recognized as somewhat of a contradiction in society, since people go out and buy lots of new things after having just spent the day before giving thanks for all that they already do have. However, until now corporations have never been able to resist being open on Black Friday since it is known to be one of the absolute busiest shopping days of the year.

People worry about how the company will do financially due to their choice to close on one of their top ten busiest days of the year. However they are a consumer co-op which means
that instead of shareholders, REI has member customers who pay a one-time fee and receive an annual dividend which is usually equal to about 10% of their purchases that year. Members account for approximately 90 percent of the company’s sales and according to the CEO of the company, Jerry Stritzke, keeping their loyalty means focusing in on the things they care about.

REI has also taken note of their employees and how many had benefited from the over-time pay on this holiday. That’s why they are giving all 12,000 of their full and part-time employees Thanksgiving day and Black Friday off with pay. This ensures that the workers at the 143 U.S.stores will not be deprived of the money earned in past years due to the company’s choice to close.

Additionally, REI has made statements to CNN saying that they would prefer to bring in new members who admire them for closing and are as passionate about the outdoors as the company itself is rather than holiday bargain hunters. Keeping their doors shut will resonate with a certain demographic who cares less about the door-buster savings and more about actually getting some fresh air.

Due to all the attention REI has received for taking this step in what many people view as being a positive direction, it makes it more likely that businesses will be seen following their lead in the next few years depending on how successful the campaign ends up being. Hopefully then America will be able to get back to having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and not have to worry about what time the next doorbuster starts.