This year, Recreational Equipment Incorporated, or REI, have come out with an announcement that is seemingly the first of it’s kind. As we all know, in America, "Black Friday" is a huge day for consumerism. People from all over wake up in the early hours of the morning after just spending the day thankful for all of the non-material things they possess, only to wait in dramatically long lines to get the best deals on this year's best items. REI is looking to change that.
Towards the end of October, REI announced the company’s decision to close their doors to shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. REI is remaining closed and encouraging their customers and employees to enjoy time with their families and the great outdoors, while still paying their employees for the day. They have coined the hashtag #OptOutside to encourage people across America to change the way they spend the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
For as long as I can remember, everyone I know has gotten up extremely early on the morning after Thanksgiving to spend a little less money than normal on gifts for the holiday season. That being said, I never realized just how ironic it is to have spent an entire day realizing how lucky you are to have food on the table and a family to eat with, to then hours later pushing your way through throngs of people to fight over an Xbox. As a company that sells outdoor recreation gear, athletic clothing, and sporting goods and equipment, it seems only fitting that REI would be against the consumerist holiday that takes time and focus away from family and gratitude. Their board of directors made this decision based on the company’s love of adventure and dedication to the conservation of the great outdoors. They believe in the importance of family and they value exploration and adventure over a retail holiday. We can all take a lesson from this.
Instead of leaving Thanksgiving dinner early to catch some sleep before your big shopping trip, take a step back and realize what is truly important. If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating with your family or have a nice meal on the table, just relish in the day and be thankful. Not everybody has the same opportunity. Instead of making a list of stores to go to at 3 a.m., grab a football and toss it around in the yard with your grandfather. Sit by the dessert table and drink coffee with your aunts. Talk about how lucky you are to have each other. Plan your adventure for the next day. The stores will always be there, but an opportunity to spend time with your family might not be. Transform the way you spend Thanksgiving and the days surrounding it by switching your focus from finding a great deal to making memories with your friends and family.
And, if you were planning on saving big this Black Friday at REI, have no fear. They’re offering savings up to 30 percent off until Nov. 23, in order to encourage everyone to #OptOutside.