- Sarah Tucker
Thanksgiving Day is a short two weeks from TODAY! What a special time of year as we pause to spend time with family and friends for a day of thankfulness. Many traditions have begun in generations past and are lovingly carried on through the year...traditions like food, football, parade watching but perhaps the greatest tradition of all is taking the time to sit around a table or living room and share the things we all are most grateful for. I grew up in a small family and most Thanksgivings were quiet with just the four of us spending time together. Then I met my husbands family. To say it was a bit different is an understatement. There were lots of them and a whole gaggle of little boys running around. It was loud and boisterous but still fun. Those little boys are now all grown into impressive young men and all of the nieces are becoming amazing young ladies.
There is one tradition that has become a huge deal in the past couple of decades.
BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!
To be honest, I have only gone out a few times to brave the crowds for some good deal or such. I'll never forget standing in a crazy long line at Wal-Mart to buy a cheap bicycle for one of my little girls and watching an actual fist-fight break out over some $5 DVD's. Yes, you read that right...that nonsense can't be made up!
For the third year in a row, REI has launched a campaign to take the focus off of stores and shopping and buying STUFF. On Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, REI will once again lock up the doors of all 151 stores in an effort to encourage people to get outside.
More than 12,000 REI employees are given the day off with pay to focus on what’s important, says Alex Thompson, VP of Brand Stewardship and Impact.The closure extends beyond retail stores. When customers visit the website on November 23 and 24, 201, they’ll find a clear message urging people to put down their wallets and go for a hike instead. While customers can bypass the message and still browse, no online orders will be processed on those days.
This is a bold move for a company that reports that Black Friday is historically one of its most profitable days of the year. “OptOutside was very deliberately and completely disconnected from any sales metric,” explains Thompson when asked what the company loses in profit by closing on the busiest shopping day of the year.
“The only metric that was important to us was the response from employees,” he says. The thought process was to focus on the longer-range health of the organization. And it’s paying off, with an estimated one million new members expected this year. He adds that employee and member engagement is at historic levels.
My thoughts...wow! Impressive that a company steps away from mainstream sales goals to allow their employees a few days to simply enjoy nature. You know that bicycle I bought a few years back? Well, it's long since been outgrown and has been passed along to a friend who needed a bike for her daughter. Do I regret going to buy it? No! And yet, as my girls grow it's becoming clear that time spent with them is the most precious gift I can get and give.
So, whether you decide to OptOutside or go spend time finding fantastic deals, just remember, Thanksgiving is a time to do just that...give thanks. And for the record, I am very grateful for each and every one of you that have supported and encouraged me in this venture of publishing news monthly about the teardrop industry.