The day after Thanksgiving has always been regarded by many as the beginning of the Christmas season. While not a federal holiday, many people take off work, spend time at home with their families, and enjoy the beginning of the holiday season. This Friday off turned into a prime opportunity to begin the never-ending chore of Christmas shopping. Soon it became one of the busiest shopping days a year, which companies capitalized on by bringing the best deals of the year to this day we know as Black Friday.
Since 2005, Black Friday has been one of the busiest shopping days of the year. In 2012, the big-box stores further capitalized on the madness and began to open their doors on Thanksgiving day, with most retail chains following suit in the years after. This day has often turned violent, with mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters alike fighting over the best TV deal, the last Xbox set in the bin, or the newest laptop computer. For many, the day after Thanksgiving is no longer a day spent baking cookies and decorating the house, but is rather a day consumed with stuffing shopping carts full of material items we could all live without.
Having worked retail before, I know Black Friday is a nightmare. There are people running all over the place, clothes strewn in every direction, kids that cannot be found, coffee cups that cannot be filled fast enough, and there is surely no end in sight. I also know I can shop similar deals any other day of the year. I know I would rather be anywhere else but that insane mall, which is why I have become a supporter of REI's #OptOutside Campaign.
If you are unfamiliar, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) is an American retail company specializing in outdoor recreation equipment and sell everything from sporting goods, to camping gear, to clothing. REI began their OptOutisde campaign in 2015 where they announced they would be paying their 12,000 employees to not work on November 27th (Black Friday). All of their doors- including their 143 retail locations, their two distribution centers, and their own headquarters- would be locked shut in order for their employees to do what they loved most, go outside. The campaign was such a hit, REI decided to make it even bigger and better this year with more sponsors, more accessible information, and more social media outreach. So far, for November 25th, 2015, about 1.5 million people have chosen to #OptOutside, and I hope you do as well.
I plan to Opt Outside this Black Friday, not only to burn off the thousands of calories I will consume at Thanksgiving dinner, but for many others reasons as well. I want to forget about the material objects, and focus on the beauty of our world. I want to stop constantly checking social media to see what people are doing or thinking, and rather walk and talk with one of the most important people in my life. I do not want to consider shopping "exercise" anymore, and I want to actually get up and moving before the winter takes its toll, bringing the inevitable weight gain. I do not want to buy more shoes, but rather I want to break out the hiking shoes I own, the ones I do not use as often as I should. I want to support the OptOutside Partners, not the big box stores that believe the right thing to do is to open their doors on Thanksgiving day. I simply want to enjoy the beautiful part of the world I live in, and that is why I plan on opting outside.What about you? Are you in? Find ways to get outside here; and while you are at it, encourage others to get outside with you, because the shopping can always wait.