If you're a lover of outdoor and sporting goods gear, then you're no doubt aware of REI. You've probably been to one of their massive stores. You might even have something from REI on your Christmas wish list. But you won't be getting any of those items on Black Friday, because in an unprecedented move for the modern-day holiday shopping season, REI's 143 stores will be closed this year for the day after Thanksgiving. No promotions, no hourly sales, no doorbusters, no waiting in line.
Instead, REI has a new promotion: #OptOutside. REI's new marketing campaign is aimed at encouraging people to skip waiting in lines to shop on this long weekend that many have off, and instead spend that time outside. They are encouraging people to share what they're doing by using the hashtag #OptOutside.
"Any retailer that hears this will be startled by the idea," says REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke, who admits he was apprehensive about closing at first. "As a co-op ... we define success a little differently. It's much broader than just money. How effectively do we get people outside?"
Since the launch of this new campaign, almost 1 million people have already begun sharing photos and ideas of what they're going to do instead of spending hours in store lines.
To help make it easier to #OptOutside, a number of parks are waiving entrance fees that day, including all state parks in Minnesota, Delaware, Colorado and Oregon. In California, the Save the Redwoods League is offering passes to many different parks. They're first come, first serve, since there are limited passes for each park.
"The day after Thanksgiving is a great time for fresh air and a little exercise," said Sarah Creachbaum, superintendent at Olympic National Park. "Thanksgiving is a time-honored American tradition, and we invite families to create new traditions by enjoying a fee-free day at two of the Northwest's premier national parks." Washington's National Park Fund is offering free entrance to Mt. Rainier and Olympic.