Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Opting Out? Count Me In

Admirable – how do you recognize an action as such? Personally, something's admirable when I can nod my head and say to myself, "Yeah...that's the right thing to do!" and get the soft buzz of moral respect. Admiration isn't quantifiable. It's not something I want, or have desire to measure. Admiration is values-based – I've got to align with it morally – and, it needs to set a standard. It's gotta make me dream big, think critically, exist on a higher plane, or at least think, "Man, I should do that!" Most of all, admirable actions shouldn't be a ploy, a cry for attention, or done me-first – they should be selfless. Done for the other, or for the greater good.

After hashing that out in my mind, I wasn't expecting the actions of a company to stick in my mind. It's easier for me to ascribe honest values to people – they are creatures of action that thought that, transparent or not, are easier to pin values on. But, REI's announcement this year to stay closed on the biggest shopping day of the year (do I even need to tell you when?) – doing the very thing that would seem to hurt their bottom line. Well, that just wouldn't leave my brain.

(If I worked retail like 5 million other folks in the U.S. – I might have missed
 my nephew eating pie for the first time in his life!)

Sure, some folks thought that they did it to somehow line their wallet. By refusing shoppers one day, they'd win more other days. From working retail, I can tell you that that mentality may work with online shoppers ("Oh, I heard about REI's cool initiative – I'm going to support them by shopping their online store.") – physical shoppers are a different beast. They want convenience, good prices, good customer service, experience, oh...and convenience. To get people to go out of their way to patronize your store is more than a moral victory – it's winning a mental battle.

Whether or not the press from the event drove additional shoppers to REI – it's clear that the main benefits of the decision went to the employees. Staying closed the day after Thanksgiving (hopefully) means that Thanksgiving is easier, too. It's not like all those products stage and tidy themselves before the masses beat down your automatic door. Opening for Black Friday (or earlier – I'm looking at you, jerks) means work before Black Friday. That's a whole lot of time to give back to employees and their families and friends that they wouldn't otherwise have. Did I mention that all employees also received paid time off for that Friday, as well?

Because what's more important? Honoring tradition, community, and family with a day that all people are equally able to enjoy? Or staying open an extra few hours to shill some deals on material goods that might not even ever get used? I'm betting on the former – and want to give my business to companies that do the same.

Okay, I'll step off my capitalist soapbox for now – who or what did you admire this year?

[This post is part of Think Kit by SmallBox. Today's prompt: What achievement – from a person, a company, a nation – captures your attention? Who did something admirable this year?]

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