In 2015, REI, the outdoor gear retailer decided to put credo into practice in the most unlikely of shopping days. On the upcoming Black Friday, REI caters to its employees and grants them the day off, while also paying them.
For a couple of years, American vendors have been putting pressure on the retail market and its workforce so that more shops stay open during the holidays.
This is about to change for REI's 12,000 part-time and full-time employees, who will get both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday off. And they will get paid to stay home.
The management of REI fully understands that the two-day closing of the 143 U.S. stores might hurt sales a bit. During the last years, the companies' statistics show that Black Friday ranked in top 10 best days for sales.
"We think that Black Friday has gotten out of hand," REI CEO Jerry Stritzke, said.
But for Stritzke and his company, money is not everything.
REI is a "consumer co-op" and therefore has zero shareholders who need to see profits rise in order to keep backing the business. Instead of shareholders, REI's system relies on customer support. It works like this: registered members pay a one-time fee and get a yearly dividend - around 10 percent of the total purchases they made that year at the store.
About 90 percent of the sales happen due to members, which makes Stritzke confident that their loyalty can be maintained by the employee-friendly politics.
The store's website will give clients a way to purchase REI products, but the company mentioned that during Black Friday, the site will have a cover screen that urges people to take the free time and spend it in nature.
"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," added Stritzke.
The REI CEO made clear that customers want to see their values represented by the merchandizer they shop from, and by giving leave to staff on the holidays, he achieves it.
"We are choosing to invest in helping people get outside with loved ones this holiday season, over spending it in the aisles."
REI is the largest American retail co-op, with 5.5 million members, and is increasingly profitable scoring over $2 billion in sales in 2014.