Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard that REI is closing on Black Friday. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a refreshing change to hear about a retailer who, in addition to not being open on Thanksgiving, has also decided to close on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Here’s why I think this is a brilliant idea…
Quite a few years ago, my family and I decided to stop exchanging Christmas presents.
Instead, we decided to make a bigger deal of out of each other’s birthdays every year (which has been a lot of fun). And to get through the holidays, we decided to focus on our favorite part of the season – cooking and eating!
We had multiple reasons for making this decision. Mostly, it was because of the needless stress it added to our lives of running out in the cold in the middle of December and wandering the isles of some random store to find the perfect gift.
Or, in an attempt to get something that was a guaranteed hit, we would write lists for each other, that included items we would eventually buy for ourselves anyway – or worse yet, that included items we didn’t really need and could end up in a landfill before the end of their useful lives.
Another reason for our decision was environmental. We are active, outdoorsy, treehugger types who like to spend our vacations abusing our bodies on long hikes or bike rides, and debate over who creates the smallest amount of trash on a weekly basis. We’re geeks like that. And we’re also REI members.
As a consumer, I was ecstatic when I heard they were closing on Black Friday and encouraging people to go outside. I felt proud to be associated with a company that shares my values.
As a marketer, I love how they turned this initiative into an entire PR-ish sort of campaign called OptOutside. It includes social media ads with beautiful photos of outdoor places, and posts asking followers to share their plans for the day.
Some ads include an interactive feature that allows viewers to type in their zip code to find great outdoor places in the area to visit. They even partnered with MeetUp to help people find organized outdoor activities for the day.
And where do you suppose they’ll go to get their gear for those activities?
Like I said, brilliant.