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As REI Waves Goodbye To Black Friday, Don't Expect Other Companies To Follow

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- REI shocked everyone when the CEO announced Tuesday that the outdoor retailer is saying no to Black Friday.

Instead, the company is paying its employees and asking them to enjoy being outside instead of shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Many customers and fans were delighted by the news, but marketing experts say this isn't likely the start of a new trend.

Still, REI's big move inspired Minneapolis bike shop owner Gene Oberpriller.

"Probably one of the slowest days we've ever had," he said, talking about Black Friday sales at One on One.

He calls the shopping day a big box store event. Until Tuesday, he's always struggled to keep up with the hype as a small business owner.

"Why are we trying to even compete with them, because we are a small, culturally-based, hands-on retailer," Oberpriller said.

On CBS This Morning, Jerry Stritzkem, REI's CEO, said he made the decision to close on Black Friday 9 months ago, calling it the most authentic choice for the company.

"As a co-op, we have 5 million members that love the outdoors and really believed they would get into it as well," Stritzke said.

University of Minnesota marketing professor Akshay Rao says the publicity around the decision may help the store's brand in the long-run, but he doesn't expect many big-name retailers to join REI.

Most of those are publicly traded corporations.

"They will attempt to maximize revenue and profit in peak buying time of year," Rao said.

REI has had double digit growth the last two years, so Stritzke says the company can afford to pull off something like this.

REI won't even take peoples' money on the website on Black Friday.

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