Does it not strike you as ironic that the most selfless and selfish days of the year are right next to each other? We go from counting our blessings and being content one hour to becoming starving, materialistic maniacs the next. Sure, you can argue that Black Friday shopping isn’t selfish if you are shopping for other people. However, now that many retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, what does that tell us? Are we really being by demanding other people to give up one of the most beloved holidays of the year to cater to the desires of over-aggressive 3 a.m. shoppers?
It’s not a hushed-up secret that Black Friday is one of the most important days of the year for retailers. There seems to be an unspoken requirement for all businesses to be open irrationally early and offer deals that are so cheap that customers are practically selfless stealing products off of the shelves. These are the expectations, and any action taken other than this is seen as illogical and even stupid.
REI, a well-known outdoor-sports retailer, has decided to rebel against the Black Friday norms of society. CEO Jerry Stritzke announced in a statement on their website a couple of weeks ago that they would give their employees the day off on Black Friday. Even their website will be shut down for the day. As crazy and ridiculous as this may sound to some people, there is a perfectly logical, and quite unexpected, reason for this. “For 76-years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors”, comments Stritzke. “We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth”. REI is one of the very few companies that has started adapting the idea of “employees first”, and what better place to start then Black Friday. Not only is REI encouraging their employees to enjoy the outdoors on Black Friday, they are also encouraging all of their customers to do the same.
So what does this mean for other retailers? Will other businesses adapt this same principle in the future? Only time will tell, but REI might be onto something here. Even though REI might lose a day of sales, they have certainly earned a lot of publicity. They’ve even started their own #OptOutside for employees and customers. “We’re a different kind of company”, states Stritzke, “and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the isles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently.”
Whether or not you decide to do the same is up to you. Going outside to escape the outside world — it’s a neat idea to consider.