For several years, outdoor goods chain REI has not participated in the madness of Black Friday. Instead they've encouraged employees and shoppers to skip the stores and head for the hills via their #OptOutside campaign.
This year, the retailer is taking things a step farther, suggesting people also "opt to act" on the day after Thanksgiving.
"Join us to be part of a nationwide day of action—kicking off a year of change," REI posted online, suggesting people sign up for a cleanup event on or around that day. But that's just the beginning.
"Continue to act with 52 weeks of simple actions to reduce your impact, get active, and leave the world better than you found it.
REI first started closing its doors on Black Friday in 2015. The next year, the retailer announced its approach to the day after Thanksgiving was a huge success that resulted in more than 1 million memberships.
"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," said Jerry Stritzke, the chief executive of REI.
Leading by example
All 13,000 employees at REI's 157 stores get both Thanksgiving and the day after off with full pay.
"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 Forbes reports: "To build upon the momentum the 'no Black Friday strategy' has created in the last two holiday seasons, along with the #OptOutside hashtag it has engendered, REI has created a search engine that draws on photos people have submitted and provides suggestions and information on cool outdoor destinations, such as a trail's difficulty or location."
While REI's Black Friday decision has few precedents, the move to at least rein in the shopping frenzy that has consumed the Thanksgiving holiday in recent years is starting to take hold. This year, major retailers such as Costco, TJ Maxx, Lowe's, Petsmart, H&M, Ikea, Marshalls, The Home Depot have all decided to remain closed on the holiday.
Watch REI's Stritzke discuss his company's decision to "remain authentic as an outdoor company" on Thanksgiving and beyond in this video interview below.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in October 2015.