Kent’s REI has announced that, for the third consecutive year, it will close its 151 stores on Black Friday and process no online sales.
Instead, the company — the nation’s largest consumer co-op — is again encouraging all 12,000 of its employees to spend the day outside with pay.
“We are doing this again to unite people and to find common ground in the outdoors,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Right now, I think people are looking for a moment to take a breath, reground themselves and come together. More than 700 organizations and nearly 8 million people have joined #OptOutside over the past two years. We could not be more thankful. But last year we stepped back and said we can do more. We asked how we could offer new practical tools and inspiration. So we have captured the experiences of the outdoor community and organized them in a way that no one has done before.”
Stritzke is referring to the new experiential search engine on REI’s website, which features images pulled entirely from Instagram content hashtagged #OptOutside by the social network’s users. The images will be augmented real-time with real-time information about locations and experiences across the country. For example, users who click on an image of a hiker can see the name of the specific trail featured, the trail’s difficulty rating, directions to the trailhead, recent user reviews of the experience and related expert advice from REI.