REI’s #OptOutside Movement Close to 1 Million Mark as Black Friday Approaches
Co-op thanks supporters and groups rallying to help people get outside across the country; several state parks waive entry fees on November 27
Nov 23, 2015
SEATTLE – What started as REI’s Black Friday store closure announcement and commitment to pay 12,000 employees to take the day off the busiest day in the year for the retail industry and enjoy the outdoors instead, has prompted nearly 1 million endorsements for #OptOutside. To-date, more than 150 other companies, nonprofit organizations and agencies that support state and national parks are also encouraging people to spend Black Friday outside. As Thanksgiving approaches, REI plans to recognize the hundreds of thousands of people and partner organizations that are opting to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.
“The idea has struck a chord – far more than we expected,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI president and CEO. “We did this to share our passion for reconnecting with the people we love, in the outdoor places we love. But honestly we are surprised by – and very grateful for – the number of groups joining in. Clearly people are looking to do something a bit different with their time. The folks at REI just want to get out to the trails, slopes and parks with our members. If you haven’t yet shared your #OptOutside plans, let’s get the number north of a million!”
Dozens of outdoor companies and retailers across industries have joined REI, encouraging their employees and customers to #OptOutside. Parks in a number of states across the country are encouraging people to get outside on Black Friday, with several offering free park passes on the day.  Other community groups continue to step up, offering local outings and access to trails and parks. For example, Meetup activated their network of Outdoor Meetups resulting in more than 350 Meetup organizers hosting #OptOutside Meetups all around the country. More than 5,000 people have signed up for the #OptOutside Meetups and the numbers are growing. Adventurers who would like to join can check online here.
At https://medium.com/opt-outside, leaders in the outdoor industry, the nonprofit sector and REI employees have contributed personal stories and perspectives exploring the power of life outdoors in a new publication. Later this week, REI will list and thank its partners across the outdoor industry, the nonprofit sector and parks authorities on the REI Blog.
Editor Note: Any media interviews for #OptOutside will need to be conducted by Wednesday, November 25. REI employees will not be available for interviews on Thursday or Friday. Additional information and assets, including photos and B-roll, are available in the REI Newsroom.
Background on #OptOutside: On Oct. 27, 2015, REI announced plans to close its doors on Black Friday (Nov. 27) at all 143 of its retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers. Instead of reporting to work, the co-op is paying its 12,000 employees so they can do what they love most – be outside. The co-op invited the nation to join in by choosing to #OptOutside to reconnect with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday.
REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 5.5 million active members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 143 stores in 35 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI.com/outlet or the free REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs 150 custom-designed itineraries on every continent. REI’s Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner- to advanced-level courses 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.
 Parks in Minnesota, California, Oregon, Colorado and Delaware are offering free entry to many state parks on Black Friday. Entry fees are also being waived at Washington’s Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks. Through Wednesday, Arizona State Parks are providing a limited amount of free day passes at REI stores in Flagstaff, Paradise Valley, Tempe, and Tucson for entry into any Arizona State Park. State parks in Kansas, Massachusetts and Missouri are providing special Black Friday offers to #OptOutside. And smaller outdoor organizations are taking action. Methow Trails, for example, is offering free ski passes to all REI members on Black Friday.