REI bucks Black Friday shopping, will close stores

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Outdoor retailer REI is making an unprecedented move during the holiday shopping season by keeping it stores closed on Black Friday.

The company is taking a stand against the holiday shopping frenzy and closing its stores the day after Thanksgiving, urging customers to "opt outside" instead of shopping.  

"Were excited to be announcing that we're going to close all 143 of our stores, our headquarters and our distribution center," said REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke.

REI won't have any Black Friday promotions and won't process any online orders until Saturday, but it will pay employees not to go to work and spend time hiking, biking or running.

"I hope everyone takes advantage of this holiday season to spend it with your family, to enjoy the idea of being outdoors and those places that you love," Stritzke said.

Company officials are encouraging everyone to start a new holiday tradition, one that doesn't include buying anything.

The idea of turning away shoppers on one of the biggest shopping days of the year doesn't bother REI customer, Nicolas Tilmans.

"I think it's a great idea," he said.

Tilmans was buying cycling gloves at the REI in San Francisco Tuesday night, but he says he's never inside a store the day after Thanksgiving.  He's on a trail.

"There's so much more of the world out there to see, so much more fun to be outside enjoying the weather. Plus, usually its not the best deals anyway," Tilmans said.

REI is bucking the retail trend as more and more stores open earlier and earlier the weekend of Thanksgiving.

It's a bold decision that is expected to impact the company's bottom line.

Black Friday has consistently been a top 10 sales day for the company.

But CEO Stritzke says his co-op defines success a little differently, that it's not just about money, but the best way to get people outside.

And as Tilmans pointed out, maybe create some special holiday moments.

"I can't imagine that anybody is having their best memory of Thanksgiving be, I went to WalMart and got this great deal on a TV," he said.

REI has created a special "Opt Outside" website showing the closest hiking trails in your area and is encouraging people to use #OptOutside to share on social media what they're doing on Black Friday. 

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