I already loved shopping at REI and now I love the outdoor/sporting goods company's CEO. REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke announced he will close its stores on Black Friday and give all of the company's 12,000 employees a paid day off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
Wow! What an amazing idea! It's not only an endorsement for the products his company sells, it also says something about his commitment to work life balance.
While its online sales will remain open, no sales will be processed until the next day. There will be a message on the corporate website encouraging people to spend time outside. With the hashtag #OptOutside, REI will ask people to share what they're doing on Black Friday on social media. REI is hoping to convince consumers to start a new Black Friday tradition, one that encourages relaxation and fitness over stress and consumerism.
"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?"
Jerry Stritzke is taking a big gamble by closing on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. But it's a gamble I think will pay off. Imagine the good will he is creating with employees and customers who understand the message he is sending.
"Somebody has to be the one to kind of put their flag in the sand and say enough is enough," Brian Harrower, store manager at the REI in Bloomington, Minn.,told USA Today. "That's what #OptOutside is for us, is saying we're going to be the first, we think this doesn't make sense anymore, it's not healthy. And an outdoor life is a healthy life."
Of course, the idea of closing on Black Friday was enthusiastically embraced by REI employees.
Here is Stritzke on CBS News on why the company is closing its stores on Black Friday:
"There's more to be gained from brand identity and showing our values than the money we will make on that one day!" he said.