It’s Not All About Sales: These Companies Are Redefining Black Friday

Black Friday may just be transforming from a day of gluttony to a day of minimalism.  Quite apt given that it falls right after Thanksgiving.

REI made a lot of noise, unintentionally, this holiday season by “opting out” of the Black Friday madness and keeping its doors closed (while paying its employees for not working).  That’s 143 stores and 12,000 employees, along with its distribution centers, which will remain closed; even online orders will not be processed that day.  Its social media campaign #OptOutside has garnered love from customers, like-minded businesses, and even the government.  

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

In fact, this Friday, thanks to REI, many parks around the country will be free to visit. Though, that is, if you can get a free pass.  When Save the Redwoods, a CA-based non-profit, made the announcement that several of the state’s parks would be free, they received an overwhelming responses.  All the free passes through their site are now gone.  But, the idea is to get out — and out of a mall or mega retailer, preferably.

Santa Cruz-based Giro, a cycling brand, is passing on Black Friday.  Its online store will be closed all Friday.  Around the country, several other brands and shops — many in the outdoor industry– have followed suit.  In fact, REI has put up a full list of organizations and companies that are adopting its message.

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

But REI has got another, much larger brand saying no to Black Friday.  Across the Atlantic, ASDA, a massive retail chain in the UK, introduced Black Friday to its British consumers two years ago.  This year, the CEO Andy Clarke said they are no longer going to partake in this American tradition.

Clarke told the BBC that the company has decided to offer its holiday sales throughout the season because last year’s customer feedback was negative.  Clarke noted that customers “don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.”

Many shops, including brands that argue against consumption, will be open, nonetheless.  Patagonia being the most famous among the lot; ever since the company bought out a full-page ad in the New York Times telling customers not to buy on Black Friday, they’ve become a poster child for sustainability.  

Cuyana, a younger, SF-based brand, is following in similar footsteps.  The company, which has three retail stores, has a sign outside its San Francisco shop that says, “Fewer, Better Things.”  It specializes in women’s wear and accessories; and instead of the volumes of fast fashion, they’ve started The Lean Closet Movement, which rides off of their tagline — less is more.  

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Photo Courtesy of Subject.

Shilpa Shah, co-founder of Cuyana, says, they “saw a hunger from consumers to simplify.”  

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