EVP Ben Steele tells PSFK how REI helps its members live life fully by embracing the outdoors and opting out of the consumer frenzy exemplified by Black Friday

For the past three years, outdoor gear retailer REI has opted out of participating in the consumer frenzy that is Black Friday, choosing instead to close its stores, give employees a paid day off and encourage both its members and non-members to spend time outdoors. The endeavor was dubbed #OptOutside, and has since become a yearly cornerstone at REI, galvanizing its community around the brand's ethos of mental and physical wellbeing through connection with nature.

This year, in the context of the fourth iteration of #OptOutside, REI is investing $1 million in research at the University of Washington to study the link between our health and the time we spend outdoors. Ben Steele, EVP and chief customer officer, spoke to PSFK in a podcast interview about putting purpose over profit, about how #OptOutside engages REI's vast customer base, and why REI might be the original lifestyle brand without calling itself as such.

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