Opting to #OptOutside on Black Friday - REI Takes a Stand

Thanksgiving in the United States - a time to eat, drink, be with friends and family, and wait - shop? For years, Black Friday has literally been a chance for retailers to “get in the black”. Throngs of shoppers banging down doors coupled with the craziness of people stampeding to grab the best deals. It's chaotic for consumers but it's proven to be positive for many businesses.

Not every retailer is embracing this tradition.

For the third year in a row, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is going their own way by putting principles before profit closing their doors, paying their staff for a day off, and encouraging everyone to #OptOutside. REI’s counterintuitive approach to Black Friday may actually be helping not hurting their bottom line. In fact, it’s been so popular that other companies and organizations have joined in. To keep their campaign fresh, REI's added a digital platform where faithful followers can post pics of their outdoor adventures to share with friends.

Today, more companies are planting a flag on social and environmental issues they care about instead of waiting for government or the public to wake up to a problem. The key to doing it right is to be authentic and real to your core business and stakeholders. Businesses must also ensure they put their money where their mouth is by supporting the causes they take a stand on.

With REI’s mission to “inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship”, getting people outside rather than in a store during the holidays fits with their mission. Building on this, through their corporate social responsibility programs, they have invested over $77M to non-profits for outdoor stewardship, they use renewable energy to operate, and have partnered with other brands to enhance sustainability.

Companies that take the risk to lead the way on issues that are genuine to them not only make a greater impact on a cause but end up standing out from a crowd.  

So, if you’re going to #OptOutside on Black Friday, come back to read about #GivingTuesday in our next blog! We’ll be sharing how charities can amplify their work and anyone can support b by joining the global movement for action on Tuesday, November 28, 2017.


Are you a business, individual, or foundation that would like to be strategic about your giving, social responsibility, and impact? Or a charity that would like to innovate, scale and become fiscally sustainable? Not sure where to start or what to focus on? Contact Nicole and the VortoVia team for a consultation.