For a few years now, retailers have been trying to extend the business they bring in on Black Friday. They've done so (for reasons that defy explanation) by opening their stores and their sales on Thanksgiving Day. Now sure for many, this is a holiday, so who cares if people shop, right? Except to open a store means that you have to have employees, and to be staffed means to separate these employees from their families on a holiday. That's just dumb.
This, probably unnoticed by you, has been my crusade lately, to get stores to stop being open on a holiday like Thanksgiving. But alas, I am only one man. I choose every year to stay home on Thanksgiving with my family, and both out of a hatred for rampant consumerism and sheer laziness, also stay home on Black Friday. But I'm only one man. As long as there are dollars to be made, my assumption was that the system would continue.
And then you stepped in.
You sent me an e-mail a few days ago saying that your stores would be closed not only on Thanksgiving, but on Black Friday itself! You are encouraging us to go outside on Black Friday, to enjoy the nature that your store seeks to equip us for with it's awesome jackets and equipment and whatnot. This is huge! Not only are you steering clear of the holiday, you are fighting against the consumeristic American culture, AND you are encouraging us to get off our duffs and enjoy the creation that (I at least believe) God created for our enjoyment. This by itself would be worthy of kudos on the highest order.
But here's where you really got me: you're going to pay your employees for their time on Black Friday. Your e-mail told me that they would be payed to go outside, same as the rest of us. That's insane! Like, really good insane! It tells me that you value those who work for you. They are not simply cogs in the machine, helping you earn the bottom line and the bottom dollar. You see your employees as people, real humans with real lives and real families and real needs. In a setting (Black Friday) where stores in your position are choosing to be greedy (money money money), you've chosen to be generous. Nothing told you that this was a necessity. You didn't have to pay your employees. Chances are, the boost I assume (and hope) you will get in business from this idea would be the same whether you paid your employees for their time off or not. And yet you chose the generous path. I'm floored.
You are a store I visit frequently, as you have a great many of the toys and gadgets my heart desires. You are now a store I will visit much more frequently, because you get it, and that's worthy of support. It's worthy of bragging, as I'm sure you will. It's worthy of a few blog posts on my end. This week, I'm extremely proud to be a member of the REI co-op.
And just so you know, I'll being doing what I always do on Black Friday. I'll be hunting in the morning and riding my bike in the afternoon. It's just really nice this year to know that others will be doing it with me.
Well done REI, well done!
Grace and Peace,