Eric Artz: More Important than Ever Before, We #OptOutside Again on Black Friday

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Dear co-op community,

In 2015, we made the decision to close our stores on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, and pay our employees to spend the day outside with friends and family. And ever since, we’ve made that same decision.

What started as a moment has become a movement. Every year #OptOutside features the same core action set in a different context. Our simple ask is always that the world take a day to be out on the trails, parks and water with the people they love. But the reason that time matters so much changes every year.

This year, as we all know, is different, and the ask may not be so simple. We’re facing a divisive election season, the continued impacts of a legacy of racial injustice, a devastating wildfire and hurricane season worsened by an accelerating climate crisis, and a global pandemic that has completely upended our lives and created incalculable loss for far too many families.

When the world you’ve known comes to an abrupt halt, it forces you to focus on what matters most. In the middle of everything, we have watched as people all over the world—some of them for the first time—looked to time outside to reflect, restore and connect with one another. Our teams worked tirelessly to outfit families for a first camping trip, advise on bike maintenance, or help with plans for an epic paddle adventure. You’ve shared your stories with us about how relevant and meaningful time outside is right now. While time outside looks different for everyone, it means something similar to all of us.

In this year of unprecedented challenges, staying true to our purpose, living our values and caring for our people and communities is more important than ever. One of the gifts that time outside offers is perspective—on our own lives, on our work, and on the places where those intersect. We are focusing on what matters most—on caring for one another, caring for our community, and sharing the connection brought by time outside.

While much has changed in the world today, I’m proud to announce that our decision to #OptOutside remains the same. For the sixth year in a row, REI’s stores, distribution centers, call centers and headquarters will be closed on Black Friday. We will take a day to disconnect from the chaos to #OptOutside safely and responsibly, and we invite you to join us. Because with everything happening in the world right now, and with everything to come, we need it.

We hope to see you out there.

Be well and my best,

Eric Artz
President & CEO, REI Co-op