Financial Resource Center

Credit Union Difference


How to Shop Cooperatively This Holiday Season

by Laura Varela / November 9th, 2021


REI will be closed on Black Friday, encouraging its members to avoid long lines and enjoy the outdoors instead.

It’s a trend that has been going on for years. In an attempt to wring more profit from the biggest shopping day of the year, many retailers started their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day.

Many people view these holiday store hours as eroding family time and corrupting the meaning of Thanksgiving. The backlash has included consumer campaigns and boycotts against companies perpetuating this trend. However, in 2021, many companies are reversing course and closing for Thanksgiving Day.

Cooperatively owned REI has been bucking the trend for seven years by staying closed on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. While employees at major retailers such as Cabela’s and Bass and Pro Shops will be reporting to work early on Thanksgiving to prepare for door-busting deals, REI employees not only have the holiday off, but will also get a paid holiday on Black Friday. In 2020, CEO Eric Artz wrote on the REI blog, “Our simple ask is always that the world take a day to be out on the trails, parks and water with the people they love.”

While Black Friday, in the past, has been a big part of the company’s bottom line, REI can afford to close that day because it’s a cooperative, which means instead of answering to shareholders, the company serves its member-owners. For $20, REI customers own a stake in the company and receive perks such as an annual dividend check based on a percentage of how much they spent at the store—typically about 10%.

As Artz says, “We are focusing on what matters most—on caring for one another, caring for our community, and sharing the connection brought by time outside.

But while REI is one of the nation’s biggest and most recognizable cooperatives, there are many others. If you want to support a different way of doing business this holiday season, look at cooperatives:

  • Join a credit union. Credit unions offer the same services as banks, but because they’re financial cooperatives, they’re not-for-profit and can offer members lower rates and fewer fees. They also strive to educate and empower their members to become financially capable.
  • Search for cooperatives in your community. A simple Google search of “cooperative” or “co-op” should turn up nearby examples—grocers, coffee shops, breweries and bakeries are common candidates for a cooperative business model.
  • Look to other name brands. Land O’Lakes, Ace Hardware, ShopRite, Blue Diamond Growers, Bob’s Red Mill, Florida’s Natural Growers, Riceland Foods, Sunkist Growers, and Ocean Spray are all cooperatives.
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