Opting Out: REI Finds Influence in the Triple Bottom Line

On November 27th, the day after Thanksgiving, more recently known as Black Friday, REI will be closing all 143 of their stores, offices and headquarters. Instead of encouraging the typical Black Friday pushing and shoving for the best deals inside stores, they are paying their employees and encouraging their members and the public to take the day off and #OptOutside. COMM EK BlogImage REI 2015 11

This decision is rooted in REI’s mission: “inspiring, educating and outfitting our more than 5.5 million active members and customers for a lifetime of outdoor adventures and stewardship.”

#OptOutside is the perfect example of using the triple bottom line to drive company decisions. The triple bottom line encourages the consideration of the three P’s: people, planet, and profit when measuring performance and impact.

Here’s the #OptOutside triple bottom line breakdown:

People: REI is giving their employees an extra paid day off so they don’t have to decide between spending time with friends and family or earning money to support friends and family. They are providing the same benefit to members by eliminating the decision between good deals and a good time.

Planet: REI hopes you take the extra day off to spend time outside, finding adventure and connecting to nature. Studies show that spending time outside has an increased likelihood of creating more sustainable behaviors in individuals. 

Profit: #OptOutside is also proving to be a massive marketing campaign that already has huge success and momentum. People all over the country are showing their commitment to REI by reposting their own versions of #OptOutside.

CEO Jerry Stritzke says, “As a member-owned co-op, our definition of success goes beyond money. We believe that a life lived outdoors is a life well lived and we aspire to be stewards of our great outdoors. We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand and so we are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles. Please join us and inspire us with your experiences. We hope to engage millions of Americans and galvanize the outdoor community to get outside.”

Cooperatives (co-ops) are businesses that are owned and controlled by their members. REI is classified as a consumer cooperative, anyone can choose to be a member (through a one-time $20 payment), and anyone who does receives voting privileges to elect the Board of Directors and benefits of annual profits, proportional to spending. This allows REI to make decisions based on what their members want, rather than the needs of independent stakeholders.

This model is becoming is becoming increasingly more popular to the business-as-usual model, with a strict hierarchy. In the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) we are educating small business owners about the possibilities and opportunities for their business to grow through cooperative models. At the America’s SBDC conference in San Francisco, Kristin York, Director of Business Innovation along with co-founders of Project Equity presented on Business Succession and Employee Ownership. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us!

This holiday season, consider what your own triple bottom line entails, and #OptOutside, or #OptFamily or #Opt whatever is important to you!

*REI is also closed on Thanksgiving Day and won’t process any online orders until Saturday.