The North Face to Close 113 Stores in U.S. and Canada on Earth Day
The North Face said this week that it will close its global headquarters and its 113 stores in the U.S. and Canada on Earth Day, April 22. The action is part of a campaign to make Earth Day an officially recognized holiday. The VF Corp.-owned brand said closing its doors on Earth Day will provide its employees ample opportunity “to disconnect and explore.”
As part of the campaign, the North Face also launched "Explore Mode" in major cities this week, leading up to Earth Day. Throughout the week, The North Face is partnering with musicians, artists and culinary influencers to host a series of experiences that encourage people to disconnect digitally and engage with their surroundings. Before closing stores, The North Face will also switch its retail locations into Explore Mode where customers can find all the resources they need to spend Earth Day off the grid, exploring the outdoors. Customers who choose to take part in The North Face exploration activities will be rewarded with an exploration kit that includes analog gear to stay present and capture memories without the need for digital devices. The week will culminate with The North Face and 15 organizations around the world partnering to launch a global Change.org petition to make Earth Day an officially recognized holiday.
Total Retail's Take: The North Face joins a growing list of outdoor brands, including REI and Patagonia, that are becoming increasingly vocal about social causes such as environmental protection. For these companies, closing stores — costing short-term profits — has become a powerful tool to make a statement about serious global issues.
For example, in 2015 REI launched #OptOutside, an initiative where the retailer closes its stores on Black Friday, pays its employees for the day and encourages them and REI shoppers to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Despite the short-term sales loss for a day of store closures, experts have suggested REI realized a significant marketing payoff because of its message of social responsibility.
And The North Face isn't new to corporate social responsibility. After all, the brand is committed to social good through programs like its Explore Fund, which has contributed millions in grants to nonprofits working to create community and protect wild places in support of exploration. What's more, last year The North Face featured a collection of T-shirts and totes made from cotton and recycled bottles that it sourced from three National Parks’ trash, and donated $1 from every sale to the National Park Foundation to support sustainability projects.
“The North Face is no stranger to exploration, and this Earth Day we're proud to join our partners and fellow explorers in a global effort to make Earth Day a national holiday,” said Tim Bantle, global GM of lifestyle at The North Face. “We believe that when people take time to appreciate the earth, they feel more connected to it and are more likely to protect it.”