Looking for a great way to work off those extra Thanksgiving calories? A growing number of people are saying no to malls and yes to the outdoors on Black Friday. Started by outdoor adventure retailer REI in 2015, the anti-consumer #OptOutside movement has gotten the store priceless attention. Using the fun tag line, “Will you go out with me?” it’s getting to the heart of what the holidays should be about, spending quality time with loved ones.

OptOutside of Black Friday at Phoenix, Arizona's Superstition Mountains

Enjoying the Superstition Mountains outside Phoenix, Arizona. photo corutesy: Andrea Guthmann/Midwest Traveling Mom

When my 8-year-old recently asked, “Mom, do we celebrate Black Friday?” it made me realize how this shopping “celebration” has consumed our country. I don’t need a shopping holiday. What I need is a holiday from shopping. A holiday from the frenzy of deals and lines and credit cards. A holiday from all the stuff that clutters my home and brain on a daily basis.

#OptOutside of Black Friday

Guess that’s why the #OptOutside movement started by outdoor retailer REI speaks to me. “The moment we announced our decision last year, people really embraced the idea of reclaiming Black Friday. It took on a life of its own and became about much more than REI,” says REI CEO Jerry Stritzke.

“This year, REI will shut down again on Black Friday because we believe that being outside makes us our best selves – healthier and happier, physically and mentally. But as a nation we’re still spending over 90 percent of our lives indoors and it’s a trend we need to tackle.” Couldn’t agree more.

#OptOutside of Black Friday by hiking South Mountain in Tempe, Arizona.

Hiking Tempe, Arizona’s South Mountain. photo courtesy: Andrea Guthmann/Midwest Traveling Mom


Arizona Hiking

We’re lucky enough to spend most Thanksgivings with relatives in the Phoenix Valley. A sprawling city of nearly five million surrounded by mountains, it’s filled with trails just waiting to be enjoyed. We always answer the call of the wild during our Thanksgiving visits, making sure to do at least a couple hikes with the kids.

In Arizona, REI actually took extra steps to get you outside. For the second year, they’re partnering with state parks, offering free day passes to any state park of your choosing. You just needed to stop by the store between November 21st – 23rd to pick it up.

Here are my final thoughts about Black Friday. If you’re buying stuff as your expression of love, you’re missing the point of the holidays. If you’re doing so on actual holidays, you might even be keeping families and loved ones apart.

Black Friday's #OptOutside movement.

Hiking Pinnacle Peak in Scottsdale, Arizona. photo courtesy: Four Seasons Tru North staff

Tell retailers their employees deserve a day off to spend with friends and family by shopping on non-holidays. And consider supporting stores like REI that give their employees a paid day off on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Their great selection of outdoor gear might inspire you to get out and explore a new adventure.

REI carries lots of gear to inspire you to #OptOutside.

What do you do on Black Friday? What do you think of the #OptOutside Movement?