As someone whose father worked retail for 30 years, and working several Black Fridays myself, I can't say I wasn't moved.
Members can vote for board members, but only after they have been approved by the "Nominating and Governance Committee". Executive pay is also not disclosed.
REI used to offer a lifetime guarantee on every product they sold. Sadly, this was abused by many people which I believe left no other option than to limit it. This used to make up for paying full retail for everything. Backcountry.com soon followed suite by reducing their warranty accordingly.
As a climber, I've noticed their selection in that department has dwindled quite dramatically over the years.
Maybe these things aren't practical in today's world. For me, they are slowly transitioning from an amazing store I would plug every chance I got, to just another retailer.
If you're ever in Canada, be sure to check out MEC. They still have a lifetime guarantee and their house brand is top-notch and of exceptional value.
I've had a couple instances were a product failed well outside of 1 year. I could have warrantied through the manufacturer, but REI handled it for me and I had a replacement in 5 minutes. That outstanding service is no longer.
Sure, if I take care of my boots they last a while. Should I get my money back or have them resoled for free if the glue fails 2x or 3x after the manufacturer said it was guaranteed? Probably not. If the DWR on my rain jacket can't be refreshed, or a plastic connector on an extendable hiking stick fails after a thousand miles in the mountains?
A year feels like a big change from "forever". Maybe 2 or 3 would have made a better headline, but again you've got people that will have learned about the program (I've been a member since 2003 and never knew about the lifetime guarantee...) and will pick stuff up with the express purpose of beating it up then getting it replaced or returned. That's not good to me as a co-op member, either, because it puts pressure on the company to raise prices to cover the cost of returns and repairs.
Not in theory, but it was sustainable if it was really just a mutual contract of quality transactions.
The majority of REI members wouldn't have returned a worn out pair of boots, I suspect. But then the economy crashed. :/
If on the second use (greater than 12 months later) they break, it would be nice to be able to return the equipment for being defective.
There's a good recent article about it here:
Beyond a certain size you have to have some element of representative democracy in a coop.
So, in the long run, they can be cheaper and the staff are more knowledgeable than average (for retail) about the things they sell. That means they hire enthusiasts (hikers, campers, cyclists, etc., and not random JC student who do not care much about what they sell.
If anyone is ever in Chanonix, the place to go is Snell Sports; three generations of the owner's family has ran the place and they literally have almost any piece of gear to take your from the Alps to K2. If you're a non EU resident you can even get the tax refunded. Snell is my model for what REI could have been. Instead REI is really just a Walmart for the Starbucks crowd. Admittedly, I do like REI and am a member, but it's really a shadow of what it could be.
I absolutely can't fault the quality of it. As an added bonus, it seems to be waterproof even though this wasn't advertised.
I sometimes think of the "retail ruining of Thanksgiving" as a pretty good argument against libertarianism. That is, if government mandated that stores can't open on Thanksgiving, pretty much EVERYONE benefits: stores don't really WANT to open early, they just want to open before their competitors. A mandated open time prevents the "race to the bottom... of Thanksgiving morning". Similarly, bargain hunters don't want to miss out on Thanksgiving either - they just want to get the best deals.
Keep in mind that some people not only like to stretch their dollar, but they don't have the luxury of shopping online, or when the malls are open. Not everyone works 9-5 on weekdays. Not everyone owns a computer, has broadband, or is computer savvy. And not everyone saves their "thanks" and family time for the last Thursday in November (some people actually bond during Black Friday shopping!). Majority opinion, thank God, is not how we run this country.
Ultimately, that's why I kind of finally got on board with the fact that most stores (and even restaurants) are closed on Sundays in France - especially since the rule on whether a store can be open on Sunday is that the owner of the store needs to be present during all business hours.
But you need to trade your precious time and effort to get paid. Mandating that there should be no trade on the nth day of the week/month/year, days that were arbitrarily set by a bunch of dead white guys trying to appease their subjects or gods is just mind boggling to me. That should definitely not be a basis for a one-size-fits-all rule for people in vastly different circumstances who wish (often need) to trade or not trade.
We don't have nearly enough national holidays in the U.S., and I don't want to take this one away from anyone.
It is incredibly bizarre.
I suspect that this somewhat has to do with the decline in retail dollars and the higher-ups are milking whatever they can get their hands on to keep sales going.
However, a few years ago (2009), my wife and I went out late Thanksgiving night for a midnight Toys R Us opening… then Old Navy… then Walmart… then Kmart. It was certainly crazy, but we saved around $300. We got video games, Lego sets and toys. All of it was stuff we wanted, and none of it was junk.
Would I do it again? With the perspective of how it interrupts Thanksgiving for all those employees, I think probably not. I'd be part of the problem. But it definitely paid off at the time.
Sort of aside— you don't have to drop your turkey leg and rush out the door on Thanksgiving to get in line to get good deals. Ignore the doorbusters and drop by the stores anytime later in the day. There's lots of other good stuff that's legitimately on sale that's still there all day. Costco doesn't even open early on Black Friday, and their sales go through the weekend.
That's actually an interesting story. Old Navy was #2 on our list of stores, I think a 3 a.m. opening. The line wasn't all that bad—everybody lined up along the front of the store. Around maybe 2:50, a bunch of people started showing up, waiting just in the parking lot in front of the store. As soon as they opened the doors, these people tried to rush the store and skip the line, pushing the people who had been waiting out of the way.
You'd better believe the people who had been waiting in the cold for a few hours were not happy about this. There's thousands of Black Friday fight videos on YouTube. They aren't caused by polite people suddenly turning into assholes at the thought of cheap junk. They're caused by assholes trying to cheat a pretty orderly system.
And then it occurred to me that, isn't it weird that we live in a world where this is almost unthinkable? Running a business like it's just something you want to do? Just...weird.
But... This is a fantastic PR play, which strategically could help earnings overall. Not saying a good PR play can't be mutually beneficial for employees and the company, but if they weren't trying to get attention for it, they could have just sent out a boring memo company-wide instead of setting up a big campaign (I still think a memo would get attention, but that's besides the point).
This isn't me being cynical, I think REI does some fantastic things as a company and for the greater good of preserving the outdoors as well as encouraging people to explore, but it could certainly be a brilliant part of their marketing strategy to grow business and customer loyalty.
I don't know what the meaning of life is, but if it isn't "working hard so the shareholders can make more money", then we are in trouble.
Same reason stores close at night.. not enough customers to justify running 24 hours.
When I need something "outdoor-sy", I come to your store. The staff can always answer my questions, they do it wirh respect and passion. You are a little more expensive than ordering online, but I pay the extra money for the detailed service I always receive.
I applaud closing on Black Friday and having the employees go outside. I mean, you sell outdoor gear, this lets your employees get a no stress day to enjoy what they sell. This gesture and demonstration of your core beliefs will continue my dedication to shop at your locations.
-- Henry Ford
Peter Gibbons: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you'd do if you had a million dollars and you didn't have to work. And invariably what you'd say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you're supposed to be an auto mechanic.
Samir: So what did you say?
Peter Gibbons: I never had an answer. I guess that's why I'm working at Initech.
Michael Bolton: No, you're working at Initech because that question is bullshit to begin with. If everyone listened to her, there'd be no janitors, because no one would clean shit up if they had a million dollars.
It's a great way to lose money on the worst customers that will never come back anyway.
Also, retailers gain loyalty from low prices, rather than lose it.
(I think this is similar to the idea that all iPhone users must be hipster iSheep)
I applaud this move and will likely be getting a membership as a result.
It'd be nice to see their employees sharing stories as a result.
p.s check out http://www.hipcamp.com
They're certainly well equipped for said camping.
Some activities work better than others of course.
I mean, I guess it depends heavily on where you live. But I've lived in Sacramento, So Cal, and Utah.
For the first two November is actually quite a bit nicer than the hotter months July-September.
And while November isn't the prettiest month along the Wasatch Front in Utah, if the snow has started falling it's great for snow sports (including snowshoeing, if you're not a slide-down-it kindof person). And if the snow hasn't fallen (and/or if you want to drive a few hours south), there's plenty of hiking to be done.
Look at athletes -- when they play outside during the winter, they tend to use the same equipment they would during warmer months while playing, and then bundle up when they're on the sidelines.
* I was wearing an O'Neill a wetsuit, which you can buy at REI.
Me, I'll be huddling around my sunlamp wondering why I ever moved anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, but that's Seattle for you.
Even if you're not a climber, there's a ton of fantastic hiking and exploring to do there.
I live in Canada and I like the rainy days of autumn and the cold days of winter. I feel like I have the trails almost to myself... and sometimes I do :)
If nothing else, they could go camp out at the Ren Fest that wraps up that weekend.
Your links infers to a law that gets you a refund if something is wrong with the product.
I equate a claim like that to how businesses treat "rebates". Most consumers will abandon or forget to redeem on the rebate process, and many will get some technical details of the process wrong so they'll not qualify for redemption of the rebate, etc. But it certainly is appealing when you see that if you buy something you'll get 50% back in a rebate if you jump through hoops and send them a letter in the mail.
After all how many people in the world keep receipts around for decades just in case they need to make a claim on the company's lifetime guarantee policy? And how many receipts will retain their black ink for that long? These days I get receipts that start losing their ink days or weeks after the original purchase.
It's a bogus claim. A facade, that businesses will keep claiming as long as "the house" is in the black.
In other words, "It's only a lifetime guarantee as long as only a few of you ever call us out on it".
EDIT: I mention "lifetime guarantee" here. It seems, for the purposes of this thread it's equivalent to "lifetime return" since it appears there was a no questions asked policy when customers would return products (even without receipt?)
Businesses are rewarded with praise when they're thrifty, firing employees in exchange for automation.
Consumers, on the other hand, are the devil incarnate when they decide to be thrifty.
Maybe there's a bit of hyperbole in that last statement, but hopefully you get the point.
Remember the episode of "Curb your Enthusiasm" where Larry David makes an empty gesture to his friend "Let me know if there's anything I can do for you". And what do you know, his friend takes him up on it.
REI saying "Sure, if you bring back your worn out 15 year old shoes we'll replace them free of charge". Then people start taking them up on that offer, and what do you know. Come to find out, they really didn't mean what they said in the first place. It was an empty gesture they were hoping no one (or only a few people) would take them up on.
As far as automation, "it's not an ethical dilemma" so say us programmers until computers learn how to code well and walk, run effectively, etc.. Taken to its logical conclusion, it seems obvious to me that computers will soon (within a few decades?) be capable of doing almost all jobs we humans currently do. And if not as soon as I'm predicting, then eventually. But I am fully convinced that no matter the timeline, it will happen.
And how is this an "ethical dilemma"? Human beings in the modern world depend on the ability to find work to make money to survive. What happens when all work can be done by robots?
Then the argument becomes. "Yeah, but we'll just find new work to replace the old work". This AI revolution is different in the sense that technology is approaching the ability to do all things humans can do. So as soon as we find these "new things", what will keep robots from doing them? More cheaply and more effectively I might add. I will say that the more likely scenario is as soon as robots surpass human intelligence and agility there will be new jobs, but those won't be filled by humans, because humans just won't have the right skill set.
One example is B&H Photo - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/
On the footer of their pages it says: "Please note that B&H does not process web orders from Friday evening to Saturday evening." I would assume that in the sect of Judaism the owners belong to letting your site take orders constitutes work.
Another example is my Girlfriend - she closes her Etsy shop when she goes on vacation because she'd rather not take orders and have customers wait for her to return for them to be fulfilled.
I live in the Brooklyn Hasidic neighborhood. A couple weeks ago, one of the gentlemen flagged me down on a Friday night. He needed me, a complete stranger, to come into his home at 11pm, go down to the basement, and push the "open" button on his dryer so his wife could retrieve clean towels for their (many) children.
Operating a machine of any kind, to the extent of pushing a button, constitutes work in their culture. There’s a whole wikipedia page about the ongoing controversy over whether it’s okay to use light switches during Shabbat or not. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_on_Shabbat
(they thanked me with a slice of cake, which was nice)
There's the whole Shabbat Technology industry - finding Kosher ways of using modern conveniences in accordance with the Sabbath laws. For example, these folks make a bunch of devices: http://www.zomet.org.il/eng/
 I'm reminded of the non-electric tools the Amish adapt and use. http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/02/22/172626089/insid...
As I recall they sold out of bullshit rather quickly. Obviously these are just two variations of public relations, and as they say, if you can get people talking about your brand, that's good publicity. I still think it's a great idea to give people the day off. It's a business, why would we demand they go out of their way to turn away (on-line) customers too?
Am I the only one disturbed by the fact thats not all one mountain image that we are scaling down as we scroll? its just one photo after the next and the falling into the white void with CEO letter.
But the people employed by the corporation are not soulless, and clearly some of them are at least not entirely cold, because I have little doubt that this idea was conceived in good will. I'm faithful that the individuals who came up with this, who pitched it to their bosses, did so with the goal of making a political statement, and treating their workers with respect as great side-effect.
The REI near me has a full-service bike shop and ski/snowboard tuning area. Then there's the people that need gear for taking off the winter going to South America.
Or, you're just stuck indoors, rockclimbing, which has it's own set of accessories, including rock shoes, harnesses, ropes, chalk, etc, etc, etc.
Yeah, REI does some business around this year, believe me.
Then there's the annual dividend, which is around 10% of your total purchases back to you.
Glad they're taking the day off.
This is about being a good company who cares about their employees.
Also, you've set up a 'false dilemma' where you're assuming because the company wants to give their employees the busiest shopping day of the year off as a holiday, that they must also give them every Sunday off or else they're being disingenuous.. interpret it however you wish, but granted what I know of REI as a company this seems all in good faith and any marketing side effect however intentional does not discredit the action at all.
The assumption that the only chance to appeal to consumers for winter holiday shopping is the day immediately following Thanksgiving (..sales have been pushed back so far they actualy take place on Thanksgiving now), is more and more trivial. I buy products throughout the entire year, and knowing a company makes any effort to take care of their employees is a huge plus which I'll gladly remember come next summer when I go to try out new gear in their store.
As long as a company makes efforts like this I'll continue to go out of my way to buy from their stores rather than competitors who want to squeeze humanity out of their company for perceived business opportunities.
But wouldn't they then be accused of the kind of reverse psychology PR they're already being accused of?