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Will REI's Black Friday rebellion pay off?


REI's plea asking shoppers to skip Black Friday and go outside has prompted nearly 1 million endorsements for the retailer's #OptOutside social media campaign.

The Seattle-based retailer announced Monday that more than 150 other companies, nonprofit organizations and agencies that support state and national parks are also encouraging people to spend Black Friday outside. As Thanksgiving approaches, REI says it plans to recognize the hundreds of thousands of people and partner organizations that are opting to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.

"The idea has struck a chord – far more than we expected," said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. "We did this to share our passion for reconnecting with the people we love, in the outdoor places we love. But honestly we are surprised by – and very grateful for – the number of groups joining in. Clearly people are looking to do something a bit different with their time. The folks at REI just want to get out to the trails, slopes and parks with our members. If you haven't yet shared your #OptOutside plans, let's get the number north of a million!"

On Oct. 27, REI announced plans to close its doors on Black Friday (Nov. 27) at all 143 of its retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers. Instead of reporting to work, the co-op is paying its 12,000 employees so they can: be outside. The co-op invited the nation to join in by choosing to #OptOutside to reconnect with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday.

With this announcement, REI seems to have tapped into the growing ranks of people who say they are sick of the Black Friday madness. These people are also likely to be the type of consumers who shop at REI (read: a brilliant move of marketing to the retailer's target market).

Dozens of outdoor companies and retailers across industries have joined REI, encouraging their employees and customers to #OptOutside. Parks in a number of states across the country are encouraging people to get outside on Black Friday, with several offering free park passes on the day. Other community groups continue to step up, offering local outings and access to trails and parks. For example, Meetup activated their network of Outdoor Meetups resulting in more than 350 Meetup organizers hosting #OptOutside Meetups all around the country. More than 5,000 people have signed up for the #OptOutside Meetups and the numbers are growing. Adventurers who would like to join can check online here.

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