REI Co-Op Values People Over Products

Seattle-based outdoor equipment retailer, REI, announced last week that it would be closed for Black Friday this year—a decision made in line with the company’s values, according to the company’s president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke.

Not only will all 143 of its stores across the country be closed for the retail “holiday,” but the company also announced there will be no online Black Friday deals either.

According to The Washington Post, it’s REI’s fairly unique business structure that allows the company to make a decision such as this one.

Jena McGregor explains that REI is one of the nation’s few major retail cooperatives. This means that rather than being owned by shareholders, it’s a company owned by members such as shoppers, producers and employees. In this sort of environment, the best interests of the members take precedence over profit and share price.

New REI Co-Op logo introduced last week.

New REI Co-Op logo introduced last week.

REI wants its customers and potential customers to know their “why,” as Simon Sinek would say. They want to make their values clear, which is why they also launched a new logo along with their Black Friday announcement. The new logo includes “co-op” for the first time since 1983 to bring attention to the company’s distinct structure.

Along with the new logo and their big announcement, the brand launched the #OptOutside campaign with a video encouraging would-be shoppers to spend the holiday outdoors. The video is simple, but powerful, and truly establishes the values of the brand.

I think that this was an incredibly smart move by the company. They may be missing out on the biggest shopping day of the year, but I think they will gain much more than the monetary losses from this decision.

They are building relationships with their customers and even those who have never shopped at their stores by clearly showing why their organization exists and aligning both what and how they do things with that why.

What do you think of REI’s decision? What do you think of how they handled it? Do you think other companies will follow suit?

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