After Parkland, Dick’s continued its mini-war with the Second Amendment, refusing to sell long guns to anyone under the age of 21. It’s already law that you need to be 21 to purchase a handgun, but rifles and shotguns are available to purchase for those 18 years of age or older. Some states, like Florida and Vermont, have passed unconstitutional laws increasing the age for all firearms purchases. All this does is deny law-abiding Americans their right to exercise their right to bear arms. What else is new?
Almost nine months after the Parkland shooting, Ed Stack — the CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods — stood up in the audience of a New York Times conference. He got up to talk about restricting gun sales at his stores. He had done it many times before, but this time, he got personal.
"I'm not embarrassed to say I'm viewed as a relatively tough guy," Stack said. "I wouldn't characterize myself as a crier. And that weekend, I watched those kids, and I watched those parents, and I hadn't cried as much since my mother passed away."
His highly publicized tougher stance on gun sales and outspoken push for reform turned the now-64-year-old into an unlikely corporate face of gun control. To Wall Street, the company's new gun policy wasn't out of line with its business interests. But to most Americans, this was a staid, dependable athletics store suddenly plunging into activism.
One year after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, Stack's early lobbying efforts have proved difficult. But on a corporate level, the company remains steadfast in its new gun sales policy. Dick's no longer sells the type of semiautomatic rifle used in the shooting, which is sometimes called assault-style or military-style. Dick's also no longer sells any firearms to people under 21.
Springfield ended its business partnership with Dick’s and for good reason: by 2018, the chain was now a full-blown advocate for gun control. Well, here’s the butcher’s bill for all of that (via Bloomberg):
Last February, when Dick’s Sporting Goods boss Ed Stack announced he was restricting gun sales at the country’s largest sports retailer, he knew it’d be costly.
At the time, Dick’s was a major seller of firearms. Guns also drove the sale of soft goods—boots, hats, jackets. What’s more, Stack, the retailer's chief executive officer, suspected the position could drive off some of his customers on political principle.
He was right. Dick’s estimates the policy change cost the company about $150 million in lost sales, an amount equivalent to 1.7 percent of annual revenue. Stack says it 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 64-year-old Stack is an unlikely champion of gun reform. Earlier this decade, he helped Dick’s double-down on its outdoor roots, buying licensing rights to “Field & Stream” and launching both a private brand and a new series of stores dedicated partially to hunting. He’s a gun owner himself and insists he’s not anti-firearm, just in favor of what he likes to call “common-sense gun reform.”
No longer a go-to store for many gun-owners and hunters, Dick’s is now navigating its new reality. In August, the company announced it would remove hunting supplies and equipment entirely from 10 stores and use the space for team sports like baseball. Sales jumped in the test stores, and the company will implement the change in 125 additional stores, about 17 percent of the total fleet. After a dip in the last 12 months, the company expects same-store sales to be flat or rise a little.
Dick’s Sporting Goods stock position hasn’t changed. The company will continue, even thrive as it transitions away from firearm sales. Boycotts are unproductive. Yes, they trashed a consumer base they have catered to for years, but you can buy similar products Dick’s sells elsewhere. Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision is part of the war against gun rights in America, but the chain is a third-tier opponent. The Democratic Party and their allies in the media remain the Second Amendment’s biggest public enemies.