Yesterday I received an email from REI, with the subject line: “REI is Closing Black Friday.” Of course like so many people who received the email, my response was: “What, what, what?” It is a great marketing ploy and strategy. I immediately was curious and opened the email and read it out loud to Chris. My next thought was: “Did someone hack into their email server or is this legit?” Here is an excerpt of the email I received from REI:
“This Black Friday the co-op is doing something different. We’re closing all 143 of our stores. Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most—be outside.
We want you, our members, to be the first to hear—not just what we’re doing, but why.
We’re passionate about bringing you great gear, but we’re even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks for all of us. Perhaps John Muir said it best back in 1901: “thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”
We think Black Friday is the perfect day to remind people of this essential truth.
And don’t worry, as a member you’ll still enjoy great deals on great gear all holiday season long. But on this one day, we’re going to #OptOutside and we want you to join us.”
From what I can tell, it is legitimate and I applaud REI for driving the point home so clearly – potentially at a loss of revenue. Maybe though — just maybe their members and frequent shoppers will find this admirable and not worry a bit that they will not be open. Of course their website will still transact orders. Why not have the deals happen the day after Black Friday? Why does it have to follow consumerism tradition and happen on Black Friday?
In any case, I hope it starts a new trend. I for one do whatever I can possible to stay away from ANY shopping on Black Friday. The only thing I would do is venture out to what Portland calls “Little Boxes” which supports small businesses. That is something I can support. It makes it even better that they want folks to be outside. Maybe other companies will join #OptOutside.
Other improvements to this year are companies that previously were open on Thanksgiving day are choosing to stay closed. Staples and GameStop will be closed this year as the companies want customers and employees to enjoy the holiday they way they want to celebrate it. There is even a group of individuals trying to get a local mall closed for Thanksgiving Day by way of a Change.org campaign.
It has been on my mind for quite a while. I have not been able to formulate the words I feel, yet I know there are articles and blogs out there that state the facts, opinions, and emotions of countless mothers, soon-to-be mothers, and of course fathers out there that have experienced or will soon experience what it is like to bring a child into this world. I think about it in relation to when my sister had my niece, when my friends have had their babies, and when my colleagues (both men and women) have had to come back to work so quickly, either because of financial or work related reasons. What am I ranting about?
Parental leave in the United States.
A few days ago I read an article on The Huffington Post titled: “A Working Mother’s Plea to the President” that brought tears to my eyes for its authenticity, rawness, and the poignant reality to parents and families in the United States. Over time I for some reason have collected articles and personal blogs about parental leave because I am stunned and aghast that a country that is as progressive, modern, and futuristic as the US that we treat our mothers and babies as though it is 1770. How can we have pride for a country that keeps its eyes closed about this issue?
A Wikipedia search for “Parental Leave” shares a chart of all the countries in the world. Only two countries list “0” days. Papua New Guinea and the United States. How is that possible? How is it that every other country in the world has some type of paid parental leave policy and all we have is a law that means we will not lose our job (FMLA of course). What does that say about our countries support for families and the bonding that is necessary at the beginning of a child’s life? Some of the countries on the list not only give you time off before you have the baby, but an extensive amount of time after the child is born. Note: the District of Columbia does require employers to give paid time off. So does that mean that all of our politicians are covered, but regular American citizens are not? Can you believe Sweden gets 16 months off for maternity leave? What does this mean for parents and families that cannot afford to take any time off? Who is taking care of those babies in the immediate days after birth?
A search on Change.org resulted in many petitions all of which are closed. This is an issue that deserves our attention. How can we be in LAST PLACE? Read “A Working Mother’s Plea to the President.” It is time to speak up.
I am torn. I just purchased a “Lego Friends – Adventure Camper” which is basically the girl version of a camping Lego set. At the time I thought it was the perfect gift for a girl – that for once there was a Lego for a girl who did not always have to do with helicopters, action heroes, and cars. Softer colors, yet could also be used by a boy. It felt like something I would have wanted as a young girl.
“I can speak from personal experience and assure you, LEGO, that girls do like minifigs. They also like Star Wars and Harry Potter, and they like being creative and making up stories that involve adventures and good and evil and things blowing up. But if you keep on excluding them from your marketing vision, soon they will start to believe that they would rather have hot tubs and little plastic boobs.”
So I am torn with my purchase. I think all kids like playing with Legos. Do girls notice the difference? Do they know that Legos have always been designed for boys? Do they care? Do they like having the people who go along with the Legos be girls rather than usually only boys?
I would love to hear what you think. I am trying to decide if I should unwrap and return my gift.