Before their shocking announcement earlier this year, no one would have thought a sports and outdoor store like Dick’s Sporting Goods would take the progressive side in the gun debate. Yet they did. Not only did they raise the minimum purchase age for any firearm or ammo to 21 and stop selling what even they called “assault-style weapons” altogether, but they also planned to destroy those they already had in stock rather than attempt to return them for credit.
One would think such a bold move would backfire, as the freedom-loving, self-reliant, outdoorsy types who typically buy hunting and fishing equipment would take offense at this. And one would be correct. In the last three months, sales revenue dropped about 4.5% to $1.86 billion.
Let’s take a moment to address the ridiculous terminology being used. Assault weapons are defined differently by different states, and not at all by others. However, one could add the word “assault” to any item used as a weapon whenever it is used to attack someone – even a nine-iron. In the real world, semi-automatic guns that look like military equipment are no different than the ones that look like plain, wood and steel hunting rifles; only the aesthetics are different. If a rifle doesn’t have the option to fired in either fully automatic or burst mode, it is neither an assault nor a battle rifle.
Conservative activists and others who appreciate the Second Amendment boycotted the brand. At least two employees quit over what they called “age discrimination.” Springfield Armory cut all ties with Dick’s after the company hired three lobbyists to push gun control. Multiple other stores – like Crossroads Pawn & Audio in Little River, SC – capitalized on the publicity, modifying their signs in some way to say that they sell AR-15s because they’re not “Dicks.”
Despite how the sporting goods chain might wish to spin it, they did not come away unscathed. CEO Edward Stack claimed in August that while the policy cost them some customers, it also brought in others, and sales had pretty well balanced out. But the company now warns that the negative reaction could affect sales down the road.
A New Track
Despite the loss from gun sales, Dick’s has been able to recover somewhat – but they’ve done it primarily by increasing prices in general. This allowed the chain to boost its profits 2.4%. The company is also opening more stores – six this quarter – and investing in the company’s online business, where sales are up 16%.
How can Dick’s best avert future lost profits over their surprisingly progressive ideology? Refocusing on team sports and ignoring the outdoorsman might work. Stack announced during a conference call on Thursday, Nov. 29, that he’s considering removing all hunting equipment from the chain. They’re already engaged in a ten-store test, but if it goes well – and Stack seems optimistic – they’ll implement the changes in all 732 locations. How’s that for the progressive way? When you alienate a segment of the population with your asinine ideas, don’t compromise – just abandon them entirely.