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.
On Sunday while walking in downtown Portland, I heard the theme song for the General Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard. As I looked down the cross street at the intersection I was in, I see the actual General Lee (or a replica) driving fast down the street, blaring the horn. It brought back memories from my childhood. See, some might say I was a deprived child, and some might say it was a blessing in disguise. I grew up without a functioning television set in our house.
What did that mean for me? I absorbed television at friend’s houses and when I spent time with my grandma. Those were the days of Nick at Nite, and the constant circulation of reruns. One of my favorite shows with the Dukes of Hazzard. Of course I watched plenty of Love Boat, I Love Lucy, Three’s Company, and more current versions of my childhood Full House, Perfect Strangers, and Family Matters. It was the 80’s.
With all the recent talk about the Confederate flag, I heard that the owners of the actual General Lee may paint over the Confederate flag. Why? I am not saying I support the Confederate flag or what it stands for, but the General Lee is a car with the flag from a television show from 1979-1985. It is a moment of time in the history of television. In any case, I digress. What I really wanted to talk about was Daisy Duke. I adored her. While she tended to be the only “known” woman on the show (none of the other women that were young had reoccurring roles), somehow I wanted to be Daisy. What little girl did not? Scary as it might be the “look” of Daisy Duke is not that much different from “models” today.
While I have nothing near the body of Daisy Duke, the one thing I loved about her — no one pushed her around. Sure, half the men were speechless in front of her, but those that could hold their own usually ended up with a kick in the ass by one of her heels. Maybe that is why I liked her so much. I can remember one year (I think I was in third grade), Daisy Duke was going to be at our mall and I got a photograph of her signed. I was so excited — I thought I had met my own version of Wonder Woman. I wonder whatever happened to that signed photo of Daisy Duke?
We are a “take your shoes off” house. Yes, when you enter the front door we have a rug and bench that allows you to take your shoes off and leave them by the front door. That might make some house guests uncomfortable because they are wearing socks with holes in them, or maybe their socks do not match. I do not care about your socks and, if you are barefoot and want socks, just ask.
My house is usually clean (depending on the day of the week you arrive). Regardless, what we do not want is to bring the dirt from the world into our home. Think about all the places you were before you knocked on our door? You probably are not out mucking a horse stall (or maybe you are), you might have been in a mall, or on a hike, or in the grossest bathroom in town. I do not care, I want it to stay at my front door and not be brought through my house.
Think about it.
I remember as a counselor at summer camp, we each had buckets of water outside our cabins where we would stick our feet in before entering the cabin. The hope was if you washed all the sand off your feet before entering you would have less at the foot of your bed while sleeping. You could always tell the campers that never cleaned their feet, because when they changed their sheets half the sand from the lake was in the middle of the cabin floor.
While I do not think of all the gross bacterias and funky things that can spread, this article does shed light on why it is important to leave shoes at the door upon entering a home. So are you a shoes on home, or shoes off home?
One of my least favorite days of the year is Black Friday. I abhor shopping on that day. This year there is an art bazaar that I would like to go to in order to support local artists. If I happen to be in downtown Portland, our local boutiques and small businesses participate in Little Boxes, a way for the community to support local businesses. That would be the only adventure I would have with shopping. Even having said that, I still do not have any interest.
I do not understand the desire for stores to be open (and for folks to be out shopping) on Thanksgiving Day. Why oh why? Our nearby outlet mall will be open from 6 pm to midnight on Thursday, November 27, and then is open from midnight to 10 pm on Friday, November 28. Which basically means they will be open from 6 pm on Thursday to 10 pm on Friday. WHY?
This is why I loved hearing about “RAK Friday” (Random Act of Kindness Friday) intended for Black Friday. Friends started a Facebook page and also has their three kids in on the action. What a wonderful idea to think about celebrating Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude and rolling into Black Friday doing things for others, instead of buying “things.” What if we were able to change Black Friday into RAK Friday? What a difference it would make in this world of consumerism and commercial spending.
So here is my question for you, what should I do on RAK Friday here in Portland? And, for those of you that might be reading this while waiting in line at the mall, what RAK are you going to do for someone today?
It is amazing how you can be walking through a store, look up, and have a flashback of multiple experiences before your eyes. Almost when you accidentally click the button on an email that allows you to open all attachments at once. It is fast movement where window after window opens before you. A miasma of different experiences that cascade across the screen.
Mine happened with Alfred Dunner.
Who is that you might wonder? If you have ever gone shopping with your grandma you might have heard of the brand. From what I can remember it was one of the better “granny” clothing brands. My extensive (yes I can say that because they were often) shopping trips with my grandma spanned L.S. Ayres (now owned by Macy’s), JCPenney’s, and occasionally Sears. The main department stores in my small town, with the additional at-home shopping of Appleseeds, and a few other catalogs she would purchase from (such a big deal to her) but most of the time sent things back.
Granny Smith had great taste in clothes (well at least for a someone in her 80’s/90’s). If she found something, purchased it, and wore it that was a huge win. It meant a successful shopping trip. She was picky (maybe I get my pickiness from her). She knew what brands were crap, and what looked good on her. She did not ever want to look frumpy. Even if she was going to the grocery, she would make sure she looked nice, and church meant dressing even nicer. I have to agree on the frumpiness, although I am as frumpy as I want at home!
I am not a fan of shopping and would rather a stork showed up at my door with clothes that were perfect for me in the right fabrics, colors, and sizes. Yet, growing up in a small town meant there was not that much to do. So many Sundays after church my grandma and I would go to the mall, get a nice meal (her terms) and walk around the mall. It was a way to spend time and connect with her. It was something she felt comfortable doing, and it sure beat watching golf (her Sunday afternoon activity). Additionally, it also just might have meant a new item for me (not always but sometimes). What was not to like about that?
Alfred Dunner, I have never met you, but you gave me a heart moment to remember Granny Smith.