The outdoor gear store REI announced last week that they will be closing their stores on Black Friday, one of the the busiest shopping days of the year. In addition, the company will also not be processing any of their online sales until Saturday the 27th.
After making the announcement, REI began the hashtag #OptOutside as a call for their costumers to spend the day after Thanksgiving outside instead of shopping inside.
“We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth,” said REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke in a statement.
Although REI will be losing sales on Black Friday, their decision to close may net the company more profit in the long run.
“They get an enormous amount of press, positive press,” said Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn on Boston Public Radio Tuesday.
“There is a branding hook here. Since consumers are increasingly making decisions about where to spend their dollars based on the values of a company, on how they do business. This is a nice positive set of points right for REI, for that camp,” she said. “I actually found myself thinking while I read these stories, I wonder if I need another down jacket for riding in the winter, and I’m not gonna go to North Face or EMS or Patagonia, I’m going to REI.”
The company’s status as a co-op may also have been a factor in their decision to close on Black Friday.
“They are owned by their customers, they don’t have the same kind of growth hurdles, what we call same store sales. They don’t have those kind of benchmarks that they have to answer to,” said Koehn.
Listen above to hear more of our interview with Nancy Koehn.