I’d come across a few Recreational Equipment, Inc.’s retail locations on my road trips. But I didn’t care. Just another corporate retail chain, I thought. And then I heard about #OptOutside. It was a marketing ploy to counter a marketing frenzy – and I thought it was brilliant. Suddenly, I started paying attention to REI, and I enjoyed my first-ever #OptOutside.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. The twinkling lights. Music floating through the chilly air. Everything is decorated. And everything is on sale.
Just a decade ago, it was enough to offer sales throughout the entire weekend following Thanksgiving. But then someone – ahem Walmart – decided to up the ante by offering mind blowing deals exclusively on Black Friday. Other retailers increased the competition with bigger sales, earlier opening hours, and sweet incentives to shake off the family dinner and shop instead.
Then REI decided to create their own marketing ploy to completely upend the marketing frenzy. In 2015, the 143-store retail chain opted to shutter their doors on Black Friday, pay their employees to enjoy the day off, and promote outdoor activities instead of elbow-to-elbow shopping. Of course it was a marketing gimmick to draw attention to themselves – and it worked brilliantly – but it also happens to be one of those rare occasions when a marketing gimmick has good social value.
A few weeks later, I visited an REI store for the very first time. I was driving through Asheville, North Carolina – on my way to the grandmother’s house in Tennessee – when I noticed an REI store at Biltmore Park Town Square. Walking through that 29,000 square foot retail space chocked full of outdoor gear was like visiting the Toys R Us stores when I was a kid!
But I’m not writing this to talk about shopping – this is all about their #OptOutside program. And that is exactly what you will find on this page.
Table of Contents
What is #OptOutside?
The core principle of #OptOutside is to do exactly that – opt to get outside rather than shop. The movement specifically refers to Black Friday, a day that has increasingly become about spending less time with family while jostling for position to get a fantastic deal on a Christmas gift.
Instead of making plans to arrive at a retail store long before the sun rises, make plans to visit a hiking trail, rent a bicycle, or enjoy your favorite outdoor activity in the peacefulness of nature.
#OptOutside With Me in 2021
Each year since 2017 – excluding the Year That Shall Not Be Named – I have hosted a meetup on Black Friday to encourage people to #OptOutside.
The meetup is free. You may have to pay admission to wherever we meet, but you won’t pay me a single penny. During the meetup, I will share tips on how to capture better photography. My greatest passion will always be photography – although writing was my first. Bring your camera – cellphone, DSLR, mirrorless, whatever you have – and I’ll help you capture better photos during our meetup.
Check back later to see where I host a meetup for #OptOutside in 2021. Have any suggestions of exciting places to visit that would be willing to let us meet? Drop me a message and let me know!