In 2013, Jerry Stritzke was named CEO of REI, Recreational Equipment Inc., a mountaineering business founded in Seattle in 1938. He had previously served as Coach’s COO and President , and worked in executive positions at Victoria’s Secret and Limited Brands. Sure, selling bikes and climbing gear may be different from selling bras and handbags, but this new assignment was custom-designed for Stritzke. He grew up camping in the wilderness, climbing mountains, and fly fishing. He loves the outdoors and wants others to experience REI’s award-winning brand: #OptOutside . It means: A life lived outdoors is a good life. Early on, Stritzke challenged his teams to find new ways to promote REI’s authentic brand promise. At a brainstorming session in 2015, an employee floated a wild idea: Why not close all their stores on Black Friday? Employees loved it. Instead of waking early and going to stores packed with discount-loving crowds, they could be outdoors with their families. And they would get paid. Was this the best idea ever – or the dumbest? Black Friday was one of REI’s top shopping days of the year. It could have been retail suicide. No one knew. On the other hand, closing […]

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