REI’s headline-making Black Friday boycott continues to gain steam.
The Seattle-based retailer’s plea for shoppers to skip the Black Friday madness and spend time outdoors instead has prompted a record 1 million supporters for its #OptOutside social media campaign. In addition, more than 150 other companies, nonprofit organizations and agencies that support state and national parks are also encouraging Americans to spend the day outside.
“The idea has struck a chord — far more than we expected,” said Jerry Stritzke, REI’s president and CEO. “We did this to share our passion for reconnecting with the people we love in the outdoor places we love. But honestly, we are surprised by, and very grateful for, the number of groups joining in. Clearly, people are looking to do something a bit different with their time.”
Parks in a number of states across the country are supporting the movement by offering free park passes on Black Friday. Other community groups are stepping up and arranging local outings and access to trails and parks. Among them, Meetup has activated its network, resulting in more than 350 organizers hosting #OptOutside Meetups across the country. More than 5,000 people have already signed up for the events.
As previously announced on Oct. 27, REI will close all 143 of its retail locations, as well as its corporate headquarters and two distribution centers, on Black Friday. Instead of reporting to work, the company will pay its 12,000 employees so they can spend the day outside with friends and family.
“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” Stritzke said at the time. “We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there and inviting America to #OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”