- REI is closing on Black Friday for the fourth year in a row.
- The company's CEO, Jerry Stritzke, says that closing on Black Friday has helped REI survive the retail apocalypse, as he has "watched more than 200 retailers go out of business" over the last four years.
- "You don't win in the long-term by pushing ... what I call rampant consumerism," Stritzke told Business Insider in 2017.
REI is closing on Black Friday for the fourth year in a row.
The outdoor-gear retailer first closed down all of its stores on Black Friday in 2015, launching the company's #OptOutside campaign. Since then, REI has closed on Black Friday and Thanksgiving every year, giving employees a paid day off and refusing to process any online sales, as part of an effort to encourage people to spend the day outdoors.
While Black Friday was once a major sales day for REI, the company's CEO and president, Jerry Stritzke, says that the decision to stay closed on Black Friday has actually helped the company's business.
"Since launching #OptOutside, we've watched more than 200 retailers go out of business," Stritzke said in a statement to BestBlackFriday.com. "It has been a period of enormous change in retail."
"We've stayed healthy partly because we've stuck with our core values — like giving our employees time to do what they love with the people they love during the holidays," Stritzke continued.
Stritzke said something similar in an interview with Business Insider last year.
"You don't win in the long-term by pushing ... what I call rampant consumerism," Stritzke told Business Insider.
Stritzke's theory is that Americans are seeking "something more" than a simple deal when they shop. Instead, customers are seeking connection. If they identify with a company's values, customers reward that company with their loyalty.
Stritzke argues that closing on Black Friday is not only the ethical decision, it is also the right business choice. REI uses a cooperative model, meaning customers can pay $20 to become lifetime members and part-owners of the company. In 2015, the first year the company closed for Black Friday, REI posted its largest-ever membership growth, and it increased revenue by 9.3% to $2.4 billion.
REI has taken a public stand in other ways as well.
In March, the company announced it would place a hold on brands including Giro, Bell, and CamelBak if their parent company, Vista Outdoor, continued to stay silent about its plans for its firearms brand, Savage Arms. REI is also known for its bountiful benefits, including vacation time, sick leave, and random "Yay-days" to take off of work and explore the outdoors.