As Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we all start trying to focus our hearts and minds on just how much we have to be thankful for, there is a retail giant who has committed themselves to helping lengthen the time their employees do just that this year.

For many, Black Friday is as much a tradition as turkey itself. While there has been much pushback the past few years on Black Friday’s steady trend of creeping into Thanksgiving Day, many retailers have responded by taking a firm stance on NOT opening their doors on Thanksgiving, truly giving their employees a day to spend with friends and family. While that list has gained much of the media’s attention, one retailer’s CEO feels “Black Friday has gotten out of hand entirely”, and has drawn much attention this year with a very unconventional move affecting what is considered the one of the busiest days of the year for retailers.

REI recently announced that not only will they continue to join those not opening Thanksgiving Day, but their 143 doors will remain CLOSED for Black Friday as well this year, encouraging their 12,000 employees as well as millions of consumers to instead explore the great outdoors with friends and family (#optoutside). All full-time and part-time employees will enjoy an additional day off with pay included.

While REI acknowledges the impact this decision will inevitably have on their revenues, they are also seeing big picture in recognizing their members account for 90% of their total sales, and their members will think it is cool. In focusing on what members care most about, they hope to not only solidify long-term loyalty to the brand, but also attract new consumers who may feel the same about the Black Friday craze and will instead use the day to catch that “outdoor bug” that REI relies on. With a current 5.5 million members making REI the nation’s largest retail co-op, the company has seen two years of double digit growth. (http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/26/news/companies/rei-black-friday/index.html).

Whether you are on the side of calling this crazy, genius, or crazy genius, REI sees it as a necessary way to do business in today’s ultra-competitive consumer market.

“There is a lot of disruptive forces in retail. I think, doing retail today requires that you have a very crisp view of why your members or customers should come to you,” says CEO Jerry Stritzke (CNN Money).

For more information on this year’s #optoutside campaign, visit http://www.optoutside.rei.com/.

See you on Camelback Mountain on Friday then?

Davidson Belluso

Davidson Belluso, is a full-service marketing communications firm in Phoenix, Arizona, founded in 2001 by Michela Belluso and Rob Davidson. D/B is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). With clients from the private, public, government and nonprofit sectors, Davidson Belluso specializes in the healthcare, education, finance and business-to-business industries. Client experience includes Huggies, Petsmart, California Bank & Trust, National Bank of Arizona, CVS/Caremark, Tempe Tourism Office, State of Arizona, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Arizona State University.