March 2016 update: Turns out REI was onto something. The retailer just announced that it's fresh approach to the day after Thanksgiving resulted in more than 1 million memberships. That's a lot of #optOutside!
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Those shoppers who bravely rise the morning after Thanksgiving to strike out into the madness of Black Friday will have one less store to rush into this year.
Outdoor goods chain REI has announced that it will not be participating in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, instead encouraging its employees and patrons to skip the mall and head for the hills.
“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” Jerry Stritzke, the chief executive of REI, said in a press release.
The Black Friday shuttering comes in addition to the Thanksgiving holiday that REI also provides employees at its 143 national stores. And yes, both days off will include full pay for employees.
It's worth nothing that it's not just the physical world the company is taking offline. For 24 hours on Nov. 27, REI will also place a simple black screen on its website to discourage even online shopping. Instead, customers will have the option of visiting a site with information on local hiking trails and other outdoor activities.
"While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors," Stritzke told employees in an email.
As you might expect, this refreshing shift towards Black Friday was warmly greeted on social media.
Props to @REI for paying their employees to take Black Friday off this year! Stay true to your mission of helping people get outdoors :)— Joyce Park (@troutgirl) October 27, 2015
While REI's Black Friday decision has few precedents, the move to at least rein in some of the shopping frenzy that has consumed the Thanksgiving holiday in recent years is starting to take hold. This year, major retailers such as Staples, GameStop, Mattress Firm, Costco and Nordstrom have all decided to remain closed on Thursday, Nov. 26.
"We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday," GameStop executive Mike Buskey said in a statement.
Watch REI's Jerry Stritzke discuss his company's decision to "remain authentic as an outdoor company" on Thanksgiving and beyond in an interview below.