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REI makes Black Friday permanent paid-off holiday for all employees

REI is urging its employees and members to enjoy the outdoors on Black Friday.

REI Co-op is cementing a seven-year tradition.

The specialty outdoor retailer is making its “Opt Outside” initiative permanent for all employees. From this year on, REI will close its stores, distribution centers, activity centers, call centers and headquarters annually on Black Friday, and pay its more than 16,000 employees, urging them to enjoy time outside.

Since 2015, REI has gone dark on Black Friday— inviting employees and customers to spend time outside rather than shop. This year will mark the shift of Opt Outside to an ongoing, permanent, employee benefit. (Customers can still place an order on, but order processing and fulfillment will not begin until the following day.)

In September, REI said that it will delay the opening of its stores by two hours on Election Day (Nov. 8) to give every employee paid time off for “civic engagement.

"Opt Outside has always been about prioritizing the experience of our employees—choosing the benefits of time outside over a day of consumption and sales," said Eric Artz, President and CEO, REI Co-op. "When we first introduced this movement, it was considered revolutionary for a retail brand, but we felt it was the right thing to do for our members and employees. Making Opt Outside an annual observance will serve as a yearly reminder of this commitment to doing the right thing for the co-op community."

Artz added that in the years since Opt Outside was first introduced, REI has grown to 16,000 employees and 21.5 million members.

"We're a diverse and vibrant community that's united by a shared love for time outside,” he said. “Opt Outside is an embodiment of our values."

The nation's largest consumer co-op, REI has 178 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia. T REI's active adventure travel company runs more than 100 itineraries across the country.

In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.

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