November 09, 2015

Is REI pulling some reverse psychology tactic? Or is this a genuine good deed by a business that’s looking to reward its employees?

Outdoor gear and sports retailer REI is closing its 143 stores on Black Friday and giving the majority of its 12,000 employees a paid day off. And before you say, “nobody buys kayaks the day after Thanksgiving,” the retailer provided sales figures showing it’s a consistent top 10 sales day.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are a battleground for retailers, with a duel for “who can open the earliest” creeping well into turkey day. And for good reason, there are big bucks on the line. Over the two-day period in 2014, Americans spent over $12 billion. That’s a big chunk of pie that REI is giving up just to let its employees recover from their turkey hangover.

But passing up on big sales could be worth it on the recruiting front. More and more, people are weighing factors like corporate culture and work/life balance just as importantly as salary and benefits when they choose a job. So if your biggest value as a company is helping people get outdoors, what better way to do just that than by closing your doors and telling employees not to come into work? Not to mention the publicity boost gained by getting your brand’s name on national television without paying for advertising.

Hats off to REI for making a values-driven business decision. It’s a bold move that could more than make up for missing a day of kayak and running shoe sales. And it’s the brand of business acumen we get our students talking about at Regis’ College of Business and Economics. Future business leaders at Regis don’t focus solely on profits. Instead, they’re challenged to keep a keen eye on ethics and how their decisions will impact society.

If you’re ready to explore values-driven business programs, start by filling out the form on this page.