Restricting Gun Sales After Parkland Cost Dick's $150 Million Last Year (Video)
America’s biggest sports retailer lost customers, but CEO Ed Stack said it was worth it.
When Dick’s Sporting Goods boss Ed Stack announced in February 2018 that he was restricting gun sales at the country’s largest sports retailer, he knew it’d be costly.
At that time, Dick’s was a major seller of firearms. Guns also drove the sale of other store merchandise like boots, hats and jackets. Ed Stack, the retailer’s chief executive officer, also recognized the action could drive off some of the retailer’s customers just on political principle.
Turns out he was right. Dick’s currently estimates the storewide policy change cost the company approximately $150 million in lost sales, which translates into 1.7 percent of annual revenue. Ed Stack says the change was worth it.
“The system does not work,” Stack said. “It’s important that when you know there’s something that’s not working, and it’s to the detriment of the public, you have to stand up.”
The 2018 school massacre at Parkland, Florida, touched a nerve for the company. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick’s a few months before the attack. A day after Cruz was arrested, police in Vermont apprehended a teenager with plans to shoot up his high school. He, too, had legally purchased a shotgun from Dick’s.
These two unrelated incidents were the last straw for Ed Stack, who in 35 years turned his father’s bait-and-tackle shop into the country’s largest sports retailer. Two weeks after those arrests, Stack made the announcement that Dick’s would implement a new policy for all of their stores. The company was pulling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines out of all Dick’s stores, and would not be selling firearms to anyone under 21.
The immediate response to these announced store policy changes was predictable. The National Rifle Association criticized his “strange business model.” The National Shooting Sports Foundation expelled Dick’s from its membership. Additionally, gun manufacturers like Mossberg refused to do business with him at all, and some shoppers followed suit.
On the other side were people applauding the CEO’s decision and promising to show their support and appreciation of the policy changes by bringing their business to Dick’s, but those customers did not stick around. “Love is fleeting. Hate is forever,” Stack said.
Seems what happened to Dick’s over their policy change decision confirms new study results out of Stanford University. Respondents said they were more likely to purchase a product to support a company CEO’s political stance than they were to boycott a company in disagreement, but it seems their actions actually revealed the opposite. When asked for specific examples, 69 percent of respondents could name a product they’d stopped buying, but only 21 percent of respondents could recall a product they started buying.
Dick’s is now navigating its new reality. of no longer being the go-to store for many gun-owners and hunters. In August 2018, the company announced a test merchandise change, removing hunting supplies and equipment entirely from ten stores and begin using the retail space for team sports like baseball. Sales results in the test stores rose, and now the company plans to will implement the this same merchandise change in 125 additional stores, which accounts for about 17 percent of the company’s retail locations.
Also impacted by this firearm sales decision was the company’s top-selling private outdoor label, Field & Stream, which includes kayaks, camo jackets and sleeping bags. Stack acknowledged the decision has hurt Field & Stream sales and the company faces a larger business change concerning its 35 Field & Stream stores, located mostly in the south and Northeast.
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