The History of #OptOutside

How a small idea had a huge effect.

REI is a purpose-led outdoor co-operative of 16 million members. Together, we believe that a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Within that simple statement is the genesis of #OptOutside, the idea to close our stores on Black Friday, pay our 12,000 employees to spend time outside and invite America to join us.

#OptOutside first launched in 2015. No other large retailer had been shut on Thanksgiving and Black Friday before. The response was incredible: more than 1.4 million people and 170 outdoor companies, nonprofits and organizations chose to spend their Black Friday outdoors. In 2016, #OptOutside quadrupled.

To date, more than 700 organizations and 7 million people have chosen to #OptOutside instead of fighting it out in the aisles.

And so while #OptOutside began as an idea to do the right thing for our employees, it has become a movement far larger than us. The concept links directly back to our beginnings as a co-op. REI was founded by 23 climbing friends in shadow of Mount Rainier in 1938. They came together, imagined new ways to get outside and changed the way people access the outdoors forever.

More than seven decades later, that same passion for a life outdoors is at the core of everything REI does. By leading with our values, by putting our employees and our members first, by creating an opportunity for people to pause and choose a different path, together we have created something bigger than we ever dreamed was possible.

#OptOutside isn’t just about Black Friday. It is a mindset. It is about choosing life outdoors. And it has become a way for people to share who they are and what we believe in.

Again this year, we invite you to do just that. Start your own tradition. Gather your favorite people, go to your favorite places, share your best days with us.

We’ll see you out there…