Written by: Molly Kavanaugh
“REI believes that being outside makes our lives better. That's why this Black Friday, we're closing all 143 of our stores and paying our employees to head outside.”
The Seattle-based outdoor recreation retailer made this shocking announcement last month to its 12,000 employees, and the rest of the world. The company says the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Others call it a smart marketing move.
The Washington Post points out that the main reason REI can take such a bold step is because of its status. It’s a cooperative, with 5.5 million consumers who pay a one-time $20 fee to join, not a publicly traded company.
Still, while more and more retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, scaling back during the busiest shopping weekend is unprecedented.
REI is encouraging consumers to join them outdoors, and has included an interactive link to find nearby places to hike, bike, ski and kayak. “Avoid the crowds and come where the best deal is,” the Cuyahoga Valley National Park advertises for its active 7.5 mile hike on Black Friday.
Healthy Moves for 55+
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett applauds REI’s move, and urges all of us, no matter the time of year or where we live, to spend at least 15 minutes outside every day.
“I just read an article called The Nature Cure in the October edition of The Atlantic magazine,” Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett writes. “Some pediatricians are writing prescriptions for parks to fight diabetes, depression and ADHD. Apparently, soil bacteria will elevate your mood. Holding dirt in your hand acts like an antidepressant.”
Kendal resident Don Parker will probably be outdoors on the day after Thanksgiving, either biking, running, painting a landscape or enjoying a family outing.
“I’m not much of a shopper and I avidly avoid doing so on Black Friday. In my opinion, that day should be an integral part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a time for families, football (if you’re into that) and, particularly, thankfulness for what we have –not for fulfilling an urge for still more,” he says.
Alternatives to Shopping for Healthy Aging
If hiking and biking is not your thing, consider a trip to a local zoo or aquarium, or, an outdoor or indoor garden, such as the Cleveland Botanical Garden. (Many zoos, like the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, are even open Thanksgiving.)
Resident Lyn Cope hopes to visit a couple of museums in Chicago with her two grandchildren. Lyn, a REI member, thinks the retailer’s Black Friday move is “fabulous. I appreciate and support corporations that enable employees to be involved with their families and friends.”
Find a non-profit that needs volunteers to help sort clothes or food, or assist in a holiday drive for children. For Salvation Army, crowds of shoppers mean more money in the red kettles, so offer your time as a bell ringer.
Let us know what you think about REI’s decision to close its doors and send employees outside, and tell us what you plan to do on Black Friday. Comment below!
Written By: Molly Kavanaugh