For the third year running, REI is taking a stand on Black Friday.
The specialty outdoor retailer has announced that it will close its 151 stores on Black Friday, process no online sales and pay all 12,000 employees to #OptOutside with family and friends.
Rather than seek to pull shoppers inside for this Thanksgiving weekend, REI is launching a new experiential search engine at REI.com/opt-outside to help inspire and enable people to get outside. It's powered by the individual and collective experiences of the co-op's outdoor community and free for all to use.
"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, according to REI.
The new search engine features images pulled entirely from #OptOutside user-generated content on Instagram, augmented 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. Beginning Oct. 30 and leading up to Black Friday, the co-op will release 20 films featuring this community-created imagery to connect people through their shared #OptOutside experiences.