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Black Friday 2016: Capitalism Is Out, Company Culture Is In
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 | Carousel30

While some people spend Thanksgiving Day making their shopping lists and preparing to fight off the crowds at their favorite store on Black Friday, others have decided to opt out of the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy. Throughout the years, Black Friday has slowly started to begin on Thanksgiving Day with some stores opening their doors for shoppers at 6 p.m. Despite this expansion of Black Friday, experts at the National Retail Federation say that more people shop on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday. This could be a result of a few large retailers jumping on the ‘Anti Black Friday’ bandwagon by closing stores and encouraging employees to spend the day outside rather than inside working. This movement has received huge media buzz as these companies are sending a message to the public that it’s more important to give back to employees during the holidays and to promote positive company culture instead of using the holiday for capital gains.

Company culture is a buzzword that has gained popularity amongst job seekers and even senior-level professionals within the past few years. The term describes how a company is run and how the company is perceived by its current and potential employees. Since the term began being tossed around offices, HR departments, and in publications, companies have been in a race to promote their culture to further appeal to clients and potential employees. Some examples of how companies show off their culture include: state of the art office spaces, paid days spent on company retreats and trips, and strong communication within the office.

On Black Friday specifically, retail companies have worked to defy the “norm” and have shut down stores in an effort to promote work-life balance and to provide employees the opportunity to spend the day giving back, or simply enjoying it with family. So, while some employees at retailers will be forced to spend the day and night controlling the crowds and working in a high-stress environment, other companies are using the day to promote their company culture and the value they put on employees. Here’s a look at how some companies are spending their Black Friday this year:


One retailer who is opting out of one of the most profitable days of the year is REI. The sporting goods retailer will be closing the doors of their 143 stores in honor of their #OptOutside campaign. This campaign is used by REI to inform shoppers that they will be closed on Black Friday and also to encourage outdoor activity. On their website, REI offers a button where customers can ‘Opt Outside’ with them, and also includes an interactive listing of trails, parks, and other outdoor activities that customers can use to make their Black Friday plans. Additionally, the campaign page on REI’s website features photos of employees with signs that say how they will spend their Black Friday outdoors.

In conducting the #OptOutside campaign, REI isn’t just closing stores. They are paying their 12,000 full and part time employees for a day’s worth of work on Black Friday and urging them to get outside and enjoy the day. At a company that employs thousands of people, many of whom are lovers of the outdoors, paying them to go out hiking or exploring is one way to ensure employees feel valued and taken care of.


Patagonia recently announced that this year they will be donating 100 percent of their Black Friday sales to environmental organizations. The company has always donated 1 percent of their revenue to environmental organizations but this year because of the “difficult and divisive time” they decided take their commitment a little further, according to a post on the Patagonia website.

Last year just before Thanksgiving Day, Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario published an op-ed on Quartz introducing Patagonia’s Worn Wear Campaign. The campaign centers on the idea of repairing old clothes rather than throwing them away. Instead of heading out to Patagonia stores to buy new things, the CEO wants customers to visit stores with Patagonia clothing they may have otherwise thrown away and have it repaired by Patagonia employees.

This wasn’t the first time that Patagonia has spoken out against the capitalistic monster that Black Friday has become. On Black Friday in 2014, the company hosted an in-store clothing swap for its customers. At the event instead of leaving with new clothes and an empty wallet, customers walked away with lightly-worn clothing that they would take home free-of-charge. This is all in an effort to make the most out of what we have and reduce waste.

Giving Tuesday

In another, less radical, effort to combat Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City. Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday that follows Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. The day was created in hopes of bringing people together to kick-off the holiday season.

Just like many companies celebrate Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, many nonprofits and mission-driven organizations have embraced Giving Tuesday as a day for getting together and giving back. In 2014 Discovery Communications celebrated Giving Tuesday by airing a Giving Tuesday PSA on some of their popular networks like TLC and Animal Planet. The group also provided a Giving Tuesday curriculum on their website for K-12 grade teachers to use to help their students understand philanthropy and the power of community service.

Many banks, financial institutions, and even employers regardless of industry, offer donation matching in honor of Giving Tuesday. In 2015, Paypal offered its customer a 1 percent donation match as well as waived transaction fees while Discover offered the same waived transaction fees but upped their donation match to 2 percent.


If your company is looking to improve company culture and participation in charitable giving, consider celebrating Black Friday by spending the day volunteering or donating to a charity. Take inspiration from companies like REI and Patagonia for alternative ways to spend Black Friday with your team as well as your customers and clients. Even if you are a shopaholic and can’t imagine giving up Black Friday, at least outweigh the effects by participating in Giving Tuesday and urge your coworkers to do the same.