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Outdoor co-op grows effort to create “new American tradition” with help of hundreds of organizations; launches experiential search engine powered by millions who have chosen to #OptOutside
Photo: Anya Staines
or the third year running, REI Co-op
, the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, has announced that it will close its 151 stores on Black Friday, process no online sales and pay all 12,000 employees to #OptOutside with family and friends.
Each year, REI
gives more than 70 percent of its profits back to the outdoor community. Rather than seek to pull shoppers inside for this Thanksgiving weekend, REI
is launching a new experiential search engine at REI.com/opt-outside
to help inspire and enable people to get outside. It’s powered by the individual and collective experiences of the outdoor community and free for all to use.
“We are doing this again to unite people and to find common ground in the outdoors,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Right now, I think people are looking for a moment to take a breath, reground themselves and come together. More than 700 organizations and nearly 8 million people have joined #OptOutside over the past two years. We could not be more thankful. But last year we stepped back and said we can do more. We asked how we could offer new practical tools and inspiration. So we have captured the experiences of the outdoor community and organized them in a way that no one has done before.”
At the heart of this year’s effort, the new experiential search engine from REI is designed to inspire millions of people to #OptOutside. It features images pulled entirely from #OptOutside user-generated content (UGC) on Instagram, augmented with real-time information about locations and experiences across the country. For example, users who click on an image of a hiker can see the name of the specific trail featured, the trail’s difficulty rating, directions to the trailhead, recent user reviews of the experience and related expert advice from REI. Beginning today and leading up to Black Friday, the co-op will release 20 films featuring this community-created imagery to connect people through their shared #OptOutside experiences.
The co-op’s efforts to get more people outside do not begin and end with #OptOutside. Year-round, the co-op partners with hundreds of local and national organizations, nonprofits and governmental agencies, championing the outdoor life by implementing and encouraging others to adopt the highest sustainability standards and working to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.
About the REI Co-op
is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI
is a growing community of more than 16 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI
has 151 stores in 36 states. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com
or the free REI
shopping app. REI
isn’t just about gear. You can take the trip of a lifetime with REI
Adventures, a global leader in active adventure travel that runs more than 170 custom-designed itineraries worldwide. The REI
Outdoor School is run by professionally-trained, expert-instructors who teach beginner-to advanced-level courses about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI
invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to — and steward — the outdoor places that inspire us all.