Outdoor retailer REI has found a novel way to separate itself from the pack on Black Friday: The company is going to close its stores for the day.
In a statement on the REI.com website Monday, CEO Jerry Stritzke announced that the retailer would break with tradition and give its more than 11,000 employees the day off on Nov. 27, "paying [them] to head outside":
"For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth."
Black Friday is one of the biggest sales days of the year for most retail chains. As retailers increasingly try to milk whatever they can out of the shopping bonanza, many workers end up clocking in not just on Friday but Thanksgiving Day itself -- a phenomenon known as Black Friday creep. In fact, it's become a badge of pride for some companies to remain closed even for Thursday.
By shuttering for Black Friday, REI just might make up for a day of lost sales with a run of good publicity. On its website, the retailer is already encouraging customers to "head outdoors" for the shopping holiday and use the hashtag #OptOutside.
"We're a different kind of company -- and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently," Stritzke said in his statement.
REI, a consumer cooperative owned by members, has 143 stores.