REI announced Thursday evening it would halt orders of products from Vista Outdoors, whose brands include CamelBak (maker of popular water bottles), Bell (known for its bicycle helmets), and Giro (a ski goggle manufacturer).
The announcements from the major national retailers came as students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, returned to class for the first time since a teenager killed 17 students and educators with an AR-15 rifle two weeks ago.
Calls for boycotts spread especially quickly in the cycling community, where Camelbak products have always been prolific, and Vista Outdoor's helmet brands are well-known.
USA outdoor retailer REI won't place further orders with cycling brands Giro, Bell, Camelbak, and Blackburn until parent company Vista Outdoors, which has strong ties to the National Rifle Association and owns firearm and ammunition brands, takes a stance in the current gun control debate in the US.
Dick's Sporting Goods announced this week it would no longer sell assault-style weapons, and Walmart, Kroger and L.L. Bean have each announced they would raise the minimum age for gun purchases from 18 years of age to 21.
But MEC went a step further.
"REI does not sell guns".
The rift between corporate American and the gun lobby is growing. And MEC's experience this week showed a new level of intensity from customers.The co-op has always had impassioned members, even in seemingly small matters. Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform.
"We speak about living in an exponential world", Mr. Labistour said in an interview.
Although it's hard to find all potential conflicts involving suppliers, staff are reviewing Running Room vendors, he said.
The debate about Vista Outdoor has been heated.
Vista did not return an email seeking comment. But one of its brands, CamelBak, tried to distance itself from Vista's gun selling operation, arguing in a statement that it was an "incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand". That year, Vista Outdoor paid US$400-million for CamelBak, as it tried to diversify away from guns and ammo.
Outside an Ottawa Mountain Equipment Co-op, it was easy to find happy campers.
While REI doesn't sell guns, it does sell products from companies that recently have been acquired by Vista Outdoors. Some retailers such as Canadian Tire Corp.
" Judging an entire community of outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and sport shooters for the actions of a madman is pure politicization, pure virtue signalling, and a knee-jerk reaction to an extremely emotionally charged issue".
"The issue of gun violence and questions surrounding responsible gun use, ownership and manufacturing have made headlines around the world", he wrote. In the last few days, we've seen such action from companies like Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.
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