Thank Mother Earth/God/Buddha/Krishna/Allah/Whoever for REI. Once upon a time, I worked in retail, which required working Black Friday for over a decade. It was THE WORST. Droves of hyper-aggressive grandmothers steamrolling anyone in their path to get their favorite grand-kid the hottest and most forgettable toy. Grotesque.
Last year, REI shrugged off the traditional Black Friday marketing approach of slashed prices and doorbusters by telling every one of their customers to go away. Go away to the mountains. Go away to the beaches. Go away to any number of National Parks, State Parks, wherever. Just don’t go shopping. Instead, Opt Outside. Last year, I answered their call. Hell, my whole family did. Myself, the wife, the dogs, the in-laws, and even the inlaws’ dogs all found ourselves still waking up at 5am, but this time in the middle of the Mojave National Preserve.
We weren’t surrounded by hordes of mothers, crazed with the idea of paying half-price for a coffee maker. Nor did we see masses of middle-aged men manhandling each other to get a power tool for $25. Instead, we woke to crisp air, which quickly became scented with the coffee and bacon we had picked up along the way. With dogs at my feet, coffee in hand, and bacon in belly, we sat around an early fire (the desert is REALLY cold during the holidays, mind you) and talked. LIKE A FAMILY.
And we’re going to do it again. And I hope you do, too. And now you have more of a reason to, as well as more than 275 companies are coming together to do good across the nation. REI’s closing its 149 stores for the day, instead telling everyone to GTFOutside. Kühl Clothing is shutting their single retail store down, putting “trails before sales,” a helluva tagline if I ever heard one. The National Parks Service, The Sierra Club, Big Agnes, Keen Footwear, PrAna (who make, hands down, the most comfortable pair of shorts ever constructed, the Zion stretch), and Meetup are all pushing their fans and customers to get out of the stores and into nature.
And, in total YESSSSSS-ness, Subaru, the champs they are, are sending out an armada of vehicles to take New York City shelter dogs away from the cold steel environment they’re used to and getting them out of the (dog)house for the day. Now, that’s a job I wouldn’t mind giving up a Friday for.
While we haven’t determined where to go, yet, we know we’re not hanging out with the rabid retail crowd. I hope you decide to #optoutside, too.