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REI Co-op continues #OptOutside tradition, closing on Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Published October 1, 2020

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Outdoor co-op will pay 13,000 employees to recreate responsibly on Black Friday, calls on other retailers to do the same.

SEATTLE – For the sixth year in a row, outdoor retailer REI Co-op will close its 167 locations -- stores, activity centers, distribution centers, call centers and headquarters -- and pay its more than 13,000 employees to #OptOutside on Black Friday. Since 2015, REI has made the decision to close on the busiest shopping day of the year to inspire people to spend the day outside with family and friends. Each year, millions of people and hundreds of organizations have joined the movement, demonstrating the power of the outdoors against the turbulence and chaos of Black Friday sales and crowds. In 2020, the outdoors has become increasingly important amid the pandemic, a contentious election season and widespread civil unrest.

"In the middle of everything, we have watched as people all over the world – some of them for the first time – looked to time outside to reflect, restore and connect to one another," REI CEO Eric Artz wrote in a letter to employees and members. "In this year of unprecedented challenges staying true to our purpose, living our values and caring for our people and communities is more important than ever."

The decision to close again on Black Friday comes as the coronavirus pandemic has forced many retailers, including REI, to reimagine how they served customers and communities. Despite unprecedented disruptions to its business, REI remained committed to its core values by prioritizing the health and safety of its employees, continuing to support nonprofits, giving employees and members the tools and information to vote and recently announcing a sweeping carbon commitment to steward the planet for future generations.

With record numbers of people turning to the outdoors this year, local parks, trails and public lands are seeing increased use. In order for everyone to enjoy the outdoors this Black Friday, REI is calling on its employees and members to recreate responsibly and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 while getting outside. This includes practicing physical distancing, carrying handwashing supplies and a face covering, and being prepared to change plans if a trail or park is crowded.

"One of the gifts that time outside offers is perspective – on our own lives, on our work and on the places where those intersect," Artz wrote. "We are focusing on what matters most – on caring for one another, caring for our community, and sharing the connection brought by time outside."

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation's largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can't visit a store, you can shop at, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn't just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI's active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.

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