#OptOutside Expands Beyond REI

Black Friday: a day marked with early store openings, long lines and hefty discounts. It has long been known as the biggest shopping day of the year and according to ShopperTrak’s annual list, 2016 will be no different. Yet in recent years there have been rumblings of change in the retail world. Even USA Today pondered the trajectory of the shopping holiday in an article released this week, asking “Is Black Friday Dead?” Now, one brand is taking an even bigger Black Friday stand in 2016, asking other retailers, nonprofits – even government agencies – to #OptOutside.

REI made a splash in 2015 with its #OptOutside campaign, closing its doors on Black Friday to give employees the day off to enjoy the outdoors while encouraging consumers to do the same. Now, REI is expanding its #OptOutside message, asking “Will You Go Out With Us?” This year, REI is inviting companies, nonprofits and government organizations alike to opt outside, and the response has been dramatic. So far, REI has enlisted 275 organizations to participate including companies like Subaru of America, Google, KEEN and Burton and government agencies such as The National Parks Service and The National Park Foundation. Some organizations are even participating in their own ways. Subaru is reinforcing its commitment to pets by providing a fleet of vehicles and drivers in New York City to take shelter dogs out of their cages and into nature for the day, while Google is partnering with REI to launch a pilot program to support outdoor nonprofits in the Austin and Seattle areas. And consumers can still get in on the action this year by pledging to #OptOutside and posting their outdoor activities to their social media feeds.

Thanks to bold moves from the likes of REI and Patagonia, the ripple effects have expanded well beyond these individual campaigns, and the list of organizations rethinking their approaches to Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping continues to grow. Here, we see how one brand putting a stake in the ground on an issue can start an entire movement, both sparking and changing the conversation.