Well, Hell, I just spotted an email sent by REI three hours ago, and I am having a “Miracle on 34th Street” moment. It’s like Macy’s Santa sending customers to Gimbels. The outdoor clothier and gear retailer will close for the biggest shopping day of the year. While other sellers countdown to sales, REI ticks time until doors closed.

Marketing tagline: #OptOutside. And there is a website, to socially share and join the community going outdoors rather than inside the concrete jungle of rabid, frothing sales seekers. You know the breed. They’ll attack anyone and anything—no prey is too large—to save two bits on a dollar. They roam in vast herds of destruction across the retail prairies the day after Thanksgiving. They are vicious, vindictive creatures. REI is right to free employees from serving them, or customers encountering these beasts drawn to discounts like they were pheromones of heat. 

Here’s the email I received from the outdoor, cooperative in italics, rather than blockquote:

This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We’re closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.

We want you, our members, to be the first to hear—not just what we’re doing, but why.

We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home”.

We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.

And don’t worry, as a member you’ll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we’re going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us.

While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we hope to see you in the great outdoors. Visit optoutside.rei.com and you’ll discover great ways to #OptOutside from coast to coast.

Let’s get out there,
REI

P.S. If you have friends you want to encourage to #OptOutside, please pass along this invitation. You can also visit optoutside.rei.com to customize your own Black Friday message and share it via social media. There’s plenty of room out there for all of us.

Much as I like the approach and tone, remember that #OptOutside is as much a marketing gimmick as anything else—that is if there is truth hidden in URLs. Take a look at those in the email text.

That said, I will take outside pledge, which is ridiculously easy in sunny San Diego. So give me no credit for that.

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