REI Co-op to close all stores on Black Friday for the third year of #OptOutside, growing its effort to create “new American tradition” with the help of hundreds of organizations
Outdoor co-op launches experiential search engine powered by millions who have chosen to #OptOutside
Oct 30, 2017
SEATTLE – For the third year running, REI Co-op, the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, has announced that it will close its 151 stores on Black Friday, process no online sales and pay all 12,000 employees to #OptOutside with family and friends.
Each year, REI gives more than 70 percent of its profits back to the outdoor community. Rather than seek to pull shoppers inside for this Thanksgiving weekend, REI is launching a new experiential search engine at REI.com/opt-outside to help inspire and enable people to get outside. It’s powered by the individual and collective experiences of the outdoor community and free for all to use.
“We are doing this again to unite people and to find common ground in the outdoors,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Right now, I think people are looking for a moment to take a breath, reground themselves and come together. More than 700 organizations and nearly 8 million people have joined #OptOutside over the past two years. We could not be more thankful. But last year we stepped back and said we can do more. We asked how we could offer new practical tools and inspiration. So we have captured the experiences of the outdoor community and organized them in a way that no one has done before.”
At the heart of this year’s effort, the new experiential search engine from REI is designed to inspire millions of people to #OptOutside. It features images pulled entirely from #OptOutside user-generated content (UGC) on Instagram, augmented with real-time information about locations and experiences across the country. For example, users who click on an image of a hiker can see the name of the specific trail featured, the trail’s difficulty rating, directions to the trailhead, recent user reviews of the experience and related expert advice from REI. Beginning today and leading up to Black Friday, the co-op will release 20 films featuring this community-created imagery to connect people through their shared #OptOutside experiences.
The co-op’s efforts to get more people outside do not begin and end with #OptOutside. Year-round, the co-op partners with hundreds of local and national organizations, nonprofits and governmental agencies, championing the outdoor life by implementing and encouraging others to adopt the highest sustainability standards and working to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 20 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 171 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that 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.