Black Friday Disrupter: REI Goes Retail Rogue
Black Friday has become a tradition to kick off the holiday shopping season. And, it’s all about the money. It’s about customers saving money and retail stores offering great deals to increase their sales. It’s a tradition to kick off the holiday shopping season.
With so many people having the Friday after Thanksgiving off of work, it seems natural to have amazing sales to lure people away from their homes and into the malls. Yet, just a few years ago some of the more aggressive retailers decided that people might want to shop on Thursday as well. After all, other than a few hours spent with family over a meal, what else are they going to do all day?
The aggressive move to be open on Thanksgiving Day did not come without controversy. Who would work? Was it fair to ask employees to work on a holiday? What’s next? Shopping on Christmas Day? All of these questions, and more, stirred up many heated discussions.
Well, amid all of this discussion about Black Friday being the biggest and most important retail shopping day of the year, a major retailer has stepped up and disrupted the status quo. REI, the specialty outdoor retailer, has decided to close all 143 of their stores, their distribution centers and headquarters. And, in an even bolder move, they are going to pay all 12,000 employees to take the day off.
REI has always done things a little differently. They don’t have a typical business model. First, REI is actually a co-op with members, rather than customers. They have 5.5 million members who enjoy buying their outdoor apparel and recreational gear and equipment (camping, biking, fishing, etc.). In addition to reasonable pricing for good quality merchandise, their members get a “dividend” check at the end of each year to be put toward future purchases.