Photo: Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee taken by my Step-Father in the summer of 2015.

All the candy is gone, all the costumes are away and November is upon us.  With the arrival of November, that means holiday season is upon us.  Soon, we will be giving thanks with our family and exchanging gifts the following month.  Sandwiched in between these two holidays is one of the more infamous days of the year.  That day is called Black Friday.  

You've seen the news reports and heard of the crazy lines.  This one day brings out the crazy in people.  We as americans fight over objects, because they are on sale.  Think about that statement for a minute.  Our society is so obsessed with our 'things,' that we will fight over those items.  Well, I have never been a great big fan of this shopping holiday or any shopping holiday (for that matter).

Since, I like to avoid shopping holidays, I was pleased to receive an e-mail recently from REI.  REI is one of my favorite outdoor stores and they have recently decided to close their stores on Black Friday.  Here is a portion of the e-mail that was sent to co-op members:

“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 are 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 a 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.”

I personally believe that this is a genius marketing idea by REI, because they are getting so much free publicity from this e-mail and I believe loyalty will be strong with members because they are standing for what they believe.  Our culture needs companies that are willing to stand for what they believe and not worry so much about the bottom line all the time.  

I personally have a great love for the outdoors.  There is something simplistic and amazingly beautiful about being one with nature.  As both the name of this website and most of the images symbolize, I am a big fan of the outdoors.  Even though my teaching job keeps me inside, I try to find as much time as possible to go for walks, bike rides and even hikes.  

The outdoors and nature is one of my passions.  The beautiful thing is that being outdoors and saving money are connected.  Think about it for a second.  How much money does it cost you to walk around in nature?  Most of the time nothing (state parks and national parks being the exception).  I can go for a bike ride thru the Texas countryside and the trees, grassland and animals are all free to witness.  You can't beat free and you can't beat the feeling you get when you are enjoying nature.  Plus, there is multiple research that details the health benefits of being in nature.  In my next article, I detail some of this research.

I will be enjoying #optoutside, as REI suggested.  I don't enjoy the shopping holidays, so I have always avoided them and last year I avoided them by spending 4 hours outside at the Nebraska-Iowa game in Iowa City, Iowa.  It was below freezing and I was standing on ice, but the Huskers won and they did it in comeback fashion.  Below is a photo from the game last year:

Nebraska at Iowa, Black Friday 2014.

This year, I will be in Texas for Thanksgiving and on Black Friday.  My plan is to watch the Iowa-Nebraska game and then find a trail to hike.

I thank REI for creating this little holiday for outdoor enthusiasts.  Lots of outdoor fans have started to tweet out their approval of this idea.  Here are some of the tweets below:


There are many more tweets like this on twitter.  Mine will follow with a link to this article!  I hope you join the over 1,000,000 people deciding to #OptOutside.  You'll save money, enjoy the outdoors, and improve your health!  You can't beat that!

Contact the writer here, or follow him on twitter @summitofcoin.