#optoutside banner on the Seattle flagship store with the Space Needle in the background.

REI Brings Back #OptOutside – This Year More than 275 Organizations Ask America “Will You Go Out With Us?”

Oct 24, 2016

  • Outdoor co-op will shut all 149 of its doors on Black Friday, process no online sales and pay all 12,287 employees to take the day off and head outside instead
  • This year, more than 275 national and local organizations form movement to invite millions of people to participate
  • New outdoor activity finder launched at REI.com/opt-outside to help people reconnect with family and friends this holiday season and declare support

SEATTLE – REI, the $2.4 billion outdoor co-op, has announced that it will close its doors once more this Black Friday. Stepping up its effort to create a cultural counterweight to Black Friday, REI says that it is giving #OptOutside to the outdoor community to lift up and celebrate the people who dedicate their lives to the outdoors. A vast network of organizations has united already to mobilize millions more to embrace the outdoors and create a new holiday tradition for all Americans.

“This year, REI will shut down on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday because fundamentally we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “I love that there is a community of people in this country who dedicate their lives to that mission, so together, we are asking America “Will you go out with us?”

REI is putting power in the hands of more than 6 million co-op members and lovers of the outdoors, asking every individual to invite someone else to choose the outdoors over fighting it out in the aisles. REI.com/opt-outside will serve as the hub to get involved, declare support, invite others to join the movement or simply find a place to play outdoors. Visitors can upload photos, share through social media, discover thousands of trails and parks nearby or get connected with non-profits that steward the outdoors.

REI gives 70 percent of its profits back to the outdoor community annually and has united more than 275 non-profit, government and corporate partners to inspire millions of people to hit the trails, parks and waterways on November 25. Details on the partners and stories of their contributions can be read on the Co-op Journal at https://www.rei.com/blog/news/optoutside-will-you-go-out-with-us.

Stritzke continued, “The moment we announced our decision last year, people who build their lives around the outdoors really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI. #OptOutside should be a platform for the nonprofits and public servants who are on the front lines of the outdoor community. They’re the ones who make the outdoors accessible for everyone. That’s why, from today onward, we’re going to lift them up as the official spokespeople for #OptOutside.”

During #OptOutside, experts from the outdoor community will share perspectives on topics including the power of nature to heal, the value of childhood play outdoors, the value of nurturing and conserving our public lands and the increasing need for diversity in the outdoors. Viewpoints will be published by the co-op on Co-op Journal and promoted by REI through social media in an effort to explore the idea that a life outdoors is a life well lived.

FOR MEDIA: B-Roll and photo assets are available in the REI Newsroom.

Appendix: This year, at launch, more than 275 organizations are already involved. Many more are expected to join by Black Friday.

Nonprofits and government agencies that steward the outdoors are at the heart of this effort. Organizations representing thousands of local chapters across the country have already joined #OptOutside:

  • Diversity In The Outdoors: Six nonprofits focused on increasing diversity in the outdoors will be hosting events all across the country. Our partners in this effort are 52 Hike Challenge, Black Girls Run, Camber Outdoors, Girl Trek, Natural Leaders Network and Outdoor Afro.
  • Local Nonprofit Impact: Local trails and outdoors advocacy groups, including Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Buckeye Trails Association, the Mississippi Park Connection and others will lead events on Black Friday to get people into the outdoors.
  • The National Parks Service is spreading the #OptOutside message to all park employees and The National Park Foundation, with the Parks’ friends groups.
  • More Joining Every Day: Dozens of other major nonprofits have joined with their own unique expression of #OptOutside. For example, the Trust for Public Land will a host pre-Black Friday event at a local San Francisco park the week before Thanksgiving to raise awareness, which several other groups have discussed doing. And The Sierra Club will help amplify #OptOutside by leveraging its social media and digital channels, which reach its 2.4 million members and supporters engaged in 63 chapters across the country.

Companies with a genuine passion for the outdoors have joined us:

  • Subaru of America. Subaru of America will be bringing together two of its drivers’ passions, the outdoors and pets, and inviting pet lovers everywhere to #OptOutside with their four-legged friends on Black Friday. To help those dogs who need to #OptOutside the most, Subaru of America will be providing a fleet of vehicles and drivers in New York City to take shelter dogs out of their cages and into nature for the day. Subaru of America will also be offering pet parents in NYC, and their dogs, a free shuttle ride away from all the concrete and into the great outdoors. Subaru of America retailers will remain open on Black Friday to help power all your outdoor adventures.
  • Big Agnes, Burton, Keen, KÜHL, Outdoor Research, prAna and a host of leading outdoor companies will connect with their hundreds of thousands of collective followers on social media with a unique, inspirational message to get outside on Black Friday.
  • Google and REI are launching a pilot program to support nonprofits in Austin and Seattle, starting with the Washington Trails Association and the Shoal Creek Conservancy. This pilot, in both markets, has two components. The first component is a “skilled service project” that centers on Google’s Creative Skills for Innovation Lab (or CSI:Lab), which helps organizations rethink how they collaborate, instill creativity and tackle critical organizational issues. The second is a more traditional service project, which REI will organize through its Outdoor Programs and Outreach team, with support from Google employees.
  • Meetup is tapping its network of 25,000 organizers who run local outdoor groups to host outdoor activities on Black Friday.
  • Upworthy is a mission-driven media company and will help drive a national conversation about the important mental and physical health benefits of being outside. Upworthy tells stories that open doors to new ideas that make people feel surprised, happy, inspired and motivated. Stories that connect us to each other, change our minds, open our hearts and sometimes even make the world a better place.

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 24 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. If you can’t visit one of our many stores, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. Everyone is welcome to shop REI, but members who join the co-op enjoy a range of benefits. More than a retailer, REI is a purpose-driven and values-led company dedicated to enabling life outside for all.