The headline read “REI is closing on Black Friday”!

Is this suicide for retailer or a smart PR move?

Yes, you heard correctly. REI’s CEO, Jerry Stritzke announced that they will be closing their 143 stores and paying their employees to head outside!

So, what do you think? Why every other retailer is fighting for customers to come into their stores on Black Friday (some even opening on Thanksgiving) by offering deep discounts and opportunities to get a jump on that holiday shopping, is REI taking the right direction for their brand.

In one word: YES

REI’s brand is dedicated to a life outdoors. In fact Stritzke goes on in his letter stating that “we believe that being outside makes our lives better and Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth”

Here is why this is a classy move for REI.

1)They are staying true to their core values – by closing their stores and paying their employees to “head outside”, they are reinforcing why they exist. They are drawing attention back to why they create the brand in the first place.

2)The news coverage alone will bring awareness to the brand and most likely, align those that share in the core beliefs of outdoors and focus on family. Stritzke was seen on CBS Morning Show, NBC, Newspapers and all over social media. Not bad for a days work!

3)They build a social campaign called #optoutside and orchestrated a media outreach program that included press releases, twitter and facebook to promote their plan. Why did it get picked up from the media? It had a hook. It was different and had a social element to it – paying its employees for the day to go outside and enjoy.

So in this case, REI took a risk and it is paying off. I applaud them on this decision and encourage each of you to # optoutside!

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