Once again, REI Co-op will be closed for business on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
The outdoor retail giant announced that it will continue its #OptOutside initiative for the seventh consecutive year, closing its more than 170 facilities on Black Friday. This includes stores, activity centers, distribution centers, call centers and its headquarters.
Rather than work, REI said in a statement that it will encourage its 15,000-plus employees — while paying them — to head outside with their family and friends.
“As the last year and a half has continued to challenge us all, #OptOutside is a reminder of the importance of community and time outside,” REI CEO Eric Artz said in a statement. “What started as a special moment for employees has become a movement for the co-op community to come together and prioritize action on the things that matter most.”
Although REI has engaged in #OptOutside since 2015, this year the retail giant is celebrating a bit differently. In a statement, REI said it will use this year’s initiative to encourage people to help build a more equitable and inclusive outdoors. It will do so by highlighting the grantees of its recently-launched REI Cooperative Action Fund.
The purpose of the fund, which was revealed on Oct. 4, is to allow co-op members, employees and the public to contribute and provide financial support to a nationwide network of nonprofit organizations focused on justice, equity and belonging in the outdoors. At the time of the announcement, REI stated the fund will invest $1 million in 19 nonprofits that are aligned with this mission, and as more people contribute, it will scale the investment.
“We believe connection to nature is fundamental for the health and well-being of all people and that time outside is a human right,” REI chief customer officer Ben Steele said in a statement. “As a community of millions of members, thousands of employees and hundreds of partners, we are uniquely positioned to drive meaningful change. Through the REI Cooperative Action Fund, we can harness the collective strength of the co-op to ensure that all people have their right to the outdoors protected.”