In an earnings call on March 13, Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO Edward Stack told investors that the sporting goods retailer would stop selling firearms at 125 locations—roughly 17 percent of its stores in the US. Dick’s will replace these firearm sections with other categories, such as shoes and clothes. The newly vacant floor space will also be used to test experiential retail concepts such as in-store batting cages.
This significant step away from the gun business comes one year after Dick’s knee jerk reaction to the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Dick’s decision at that time sparked celebration from gun control activists and the ire of Second Amendment advocates who punished the company’s profits. In part, this was due to Dick’s decision to stop selling modern sporting rifles altogether and destroy any inventory in stock, while simultaneously stopping all sales of firearms to anyone under the age of 21. Compounding Dick’s decision was its subsidiary brand Field & Stream, which Dick’s saddled with the same anti-gun policy.
Dick’s is an example of the dangers of corporate America. The CEO has decided to take a personal political position and force it on the business he runs. In furtherance of his personal political position, he believes he is justified in destroying inventory, alienating investors, and worse yet, using investor money to further his misguided political beliefs by hiring a small handful lobbyists to push for gun control in Congress.
This latest action goes well beyond just guns though. Dick’s announced it will also be pulling other gear related to the outdoor shooting sports, reportedly to include hunting and camping supplies or related materials. Why? Stack made it clear that he felt his company needed to take a strong stance in the gun control debate.
“Thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he wrote in a widely shared statement after the Parkland shooting. “We have to help solve the problem that’s in front of us. Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people, including the brightest hope for the future of America—our kids.”
What Stack fails to understand was the fact that you cannot legislate away evil. Gun control only seeks to punish the law abiding, by definition. He offers lip service that he understands, supports the Second Amendment, owns guns, hunts… blah, blah, blah… then immediately turns around and enacts policies that seeks to prevent young adults from owning firearms for self-defence, destroys inventory, publically states that company will not support any candidate for office with a B or higher NRA rating.
The Industry’s Response
As many of you already know, several gun companies came out in support of the Second Amendment and refused to do business with Dick’s, as a response to its anti Second Amendment stance. As an example, Mossberg not only stopped all sales to Dick’s, it urged shoppers to “Visit one of the thousands of pro-Second Amendment firearm retailers to make their purchases.”
As a result, Dick’s has suffered financially; one shareholder last year even accused the company of “willfully giving up money.” As of November 2018, its sales were down almost 4 percent, and many gun rights advocates have pledged to stay away from its stores. In the investor call, Stack said that Dick’s continues, “to see double-digit declines” in its gun business, and that the company “would expect that [sales] continue to be down.”
That means our efforts are successful. We have a voice and the power of our support. In an effort to mitigate the cost to Dick’s bottom line for its anti Second Amendment stance, the company is looking to pivot, in an effort to outflank gun owners. As it shutters its gun business in 125 underperforming stores, Dick’s will instead focus on other categories, like shoes and fitness wear.
Dick’s already lost the business of most gun owners and Second Amendment supporters. Trying to split a line would never earn back the business Dick’s has lost. However, trying to hide the problem by not splitting the line and going into full anti-gun mode will not win us back either. Dick’s stance against the Second Amendment has been far too strong to think that getting rid of all firearms and outdoor shooting related products is going to suddenly, or in the future, make me run in to buy a baseball bat or kayak.
Does Dick’s latest move to completely get away from firearms and related outdoor supplies change your opinion about whether to patronize its stores, including FIeld and Stream? Share your answer in the comment section.
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