Jerry Stritzke: Why We #OptOutside


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Editor’s Note: On October 29, REI Co-op CEO and President Jerry Stritzke wrote to employees about #OptOutside 2017.

Two years ago, we started a new tradition. We opted out of Black Friday, closed our stores and invited the world to #OptOutside with us. In 2016, we shifted the focus of #OptOutside to our hundreds of nonprofit partners who build trails, protect public lands and connect people with natural places. Since 2015, seven hundred organizations and seven million people joined in.

What started as a moment, became a movement. This year we’ll be closing again and paying all of you to spend the day outdoors!

As we embark on year three, I want to pause to reflect on why we do this.

Closing our doors on such a huge sales day in the world of retail is a bold decision—but it’s what the co-op is all about. It’s a choice we make to show the outdoor life we love matters more than a day of sales.

We do it so we can take a breath in a busy world. To reground ourselves. To enjoy precious time with our friends and family. And to invite others to share in the experience, providing inspiration and tools to help people, from all backgrounds, enjoy life outside.

#OptOutside 2017

This year we are handing #OptOutside over to the millions of people who choose to #OptOutside, everywhere and every day. From #AdventureDogs to #Sunsets, #Waterfalls to #WalksWithDad, our community brings outdoor life into focus in funny, surprising and moving ways.

That’s why we’re making these shared moments–our common bond–the heart of #OptOutside.

  • To launch #OptOutside we are unveiling a new, experiential search engine, powered by the outdoor community.
  • The site will connect everyone to tens of thousands of trails, outdoor experiences, articles and advice—all curated by the co-op community. Fueled by the participation of the outdoor community, we will make this information available for free, to all.
  • Explore and point customers and members to the experience at
  • At, we’re also creating a living record of life outside, told through the eyes of those who #OptOutside with us.
  • We are sharing community-generated images and experiences that inspire all of us to #OptOutside. Yours could be among them! Tag your images on your public Instagram account with both #REIEmployee and #OptOutside, early and often.
  • For the month leading up to Black Friday, we’ll be sharing new videos created entirely from community #OptOutside experiences. Watch and share with your social media networks.

Thank you for bringing #OptOutside to life for so many people.