Tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., and most of us are gearing up to have a few days off to spend some time with friends and family. Of course, Thanksgiving brings another annual tradition along with it – Black Friday. That’s the day that holiday shopping kicks into high gear, most major stores offer significant discounts, and shoppers head to the malls in droves in an attempt to get an early start on their holiday shopping. In short, it is madness, and most sane people try to stay as far away from the experience as possible.
This year, outdoor gear retailer REI has done something that to many was unthinkable. The company has decided to close its doors on Black Friday, and actually give its employees a paid day off to go outside instead. Using the hashtag #OptOutside, the company has encouraged its customer base to do the same. As of now, nearly 1 million people have pledged to follow suit.
REI isn’t the only organization that has pushed to turn Black Friday into a day to enjoy the outdoors either. Gear company Outdoor Research has jumped on the bandwagon as well, as have some state and national parks as well. In Tennessee, all state parks will be free for visitors, and Oregon is doing the same. In the state of Washington, Olympic and Mt. Rainier National Parks will be fee-free as well, and if you look hard enough you’ll probably find similar offerings where ever you are too.
The point is to avoid the massive shopping frenzy and head out to enjoy the great outdoors, which is a great message to send. The holiday shopping will be there in the days ahead, but we don’t always get a day off to enjoy being outside. So, if you’re like me, and would much rather be on a trail than standing in line at the store, take advantage of this new unofficial holiday, and #OptOutside yourself. Chances are it’ll be a far more rewarding experience.
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