Only in America do we dedicate a day to give thanks for what we have, ironically followed by a day full of mass materialism. Black Friday sales have gradually started getting earlier and earlier every year, resulting in some sales even starting on Thanksgiving Day. November 26th and 27th contrast each other greatly, one focusing on the blessings in our lives and one urging us to buy the things we don’t have, and likely don’t need. Sounds a little hypocritical, doesn’t it?
This year, REI has decided to forgo the madness that surrounds Black Friday in the United States. The outdoor equipment store will close its doors the day after Thanksgiving, urging their employees and customers to spend time outside instead of spending the day searching for sales and waiting in lines.
REI’s decision to skip Black Friday sets an example for other companies to consider. Closing the store on the 27th creates a better relationship with their employees and shows REI’s appreciation for the work they put in to the company. Employees of REI will get to spend an extra day with their families and ideally spending time in the outdoors. Not only will employees get an extra day to enjoy the holidays, they are also being paid for spending the day off.
REI is, at its core, a co-op. This means that it tries to yield the most amount of benefits for its members. As REI knows, its consumer base has many of the same values. They like to spend time outdoors, enjoying the things that only Mother Nature does best. REI offers quality and authenticity, and this campaign reinforces common values shared by both consumers and the company. This campaign reminds us that Black Friday should not be a holiday in itself; much less undermine the holiday before it.
REI has turned its campaign into a movement. People who decide to skip the lines are encouraged to post onto social media and use the hashtag #OptOutside. Some followers of REI’s Instagram have even jokingly suggested calling it “Green Friday” instead of Black Friday.
The motives behind the campaign are simple: to convey the authenticity and values behind REI as a company. REI may initially lose sales on Friday, but the campaign will increase the loyalty of customers, in turn creating more revenue for the company over time. Your future kayaks, climbing gear, and other equipment will always be sold in store regardless if it is Black Friday or just a regular Monday.
Somehow, in the midst of all the sales and commercials yelling at you to buy (another) T.V., we have become entranced by consumerism. It seems as if Black Friday is a day that allows us to be greedy, rude and materialistic — traits that we would normally never want to adopt. Consumerism has increasingly become a theme in our society. We want more and more, with no idea where that limit ends. Endangering ourselves and others for mere materialistic desire is in no way acceptable behavior.
Are the sales really worth waiting for hours, dealing with cranky shoppers and losing sleep over? Or would you rather be skiing the slopes or hiking a mountain with friends and family? I personally would choose a good landscape and some laughs over a BOGO deal on a T.V. any day.
Although REI may “lose” sales by closing their doors on Black Friday, they gain so much more. They gain the respect from customers, employees and the general public alike. Their #OptOutside campaign relays the message that it isn’t about money or possessions — it’s about the simple things in life with no price tag at all. Sometimes a simple adventure and quality time with loved ones is all you really need.
Need a place to #OptOutside? As lucky CSU students, it’s not hard to find the great outdoors. Spend the day hiking Horsetooth Mountain, Arthur’s or Grey Rock. Ski at one of the many resorts located a few hours from campus or post up at a sweet spot along the Poudre Canyon to soak up some good old Vitamin D.
Let’s remember whats truely important this holiday season. Happy Holidays.
Collegian Columnist Bridgette Windell will be backpacking during Black Friday this year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @Bridgette_Rae.