Outdoor-goods chain REI has flabbergasted retail analysts with its bold Black Friday plan of not selling anything. CEO Jerry Stritzke says the day has "gotten out of hand" and all 143 REI stores will remain closed the day after Thanksgiving, CNNMoney reports. The chain is paying all 12,000 workers for the day and is encouraging them—and its customers—to enjoy the great outdoors on Black Friday and share their experiences with the #OptOutside tag. The chain will not be processing online orders until Saturday, reports USA Today, which notes that REI is a co-op owned by its 5.5 million members, so although staying closed is certain to cost it money, it won't have to justify the move to any outraged shareholders.
"We believe that being outside makes our lives better," Stritzke said in a statement. "And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth. We're a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we'll be spending our day a little differently. We're choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us." The move is "wildly counterintuitive," but perhaps not as "commercially suicidal" as it may seem, writes Micah Solomon at Forbes. Modern consumers look for "authenticity" and "attached meaning," making REI's brand more attractive when it's seen to actually stand for something, he writes. (More stores have decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving.)