I’ve written more about Dick’s Sporting Goods in 2018 than I ever thought I would. When the year started, we thought the company would have gotten the message that taking anti-gun stances wasn’t conducive to profits, but it didn’t.
So Dick’s doubled down after Parkland and purged the rest of the AR-15s from its stores and then instituted a discriminatory policy against legal adults.
In remarks made to the Goldman Sachs Retailing Conference and first reported by the Washington Free Beacon, CEO Edward Stack explained that the 3.9 percent decline in the company’s sales during the third quarter could be partially attributed to its ban on the sale of assault-style rifles and on the sale of all firearms to customers under 21 years old — both of which were implemented in the wake of the Parkland shooting in February.
“Well I think it’s definitely a factor, and it’s nothing that we didn’t anticipate,” Stack said of the sales downturn during the call. “As we put out kind of our guidance for the year and our earnings guidance for the year, we knew this would happen when — we’ve made some decisions on firearms in the past and we’ve had a pretty good idea of what these consequences were going to be. We felt that was absolutely the right thing to do. We would do the same thing again if we had a mulligan, so to speak, to do it again.”
In addition to the firearm-purchasing restrictions, Dick’s also hired a number of Washington, D.C. lobbyists in May to advocate for more-stringent gun-control regulations. Taken together, the restrictions and the lobbying effort led the National Shooting Sports Foundation to expel Dick’s and caused a number of major gun manufacturers to sever ties with the retailer — developments that Stack admitted were detrimental to its third-quarter performance.
I’d say, “Who cares?” but the truth is, I do.
Schadenfreude is a kind of caring, right?
Honestly, it couldn’t happen to a better company. You see, while I might not like its decisions, Dick’s is a private entity (even if publicly traded) and can make whatever decisions it chooses so long as it doesn’t disobey the law. Had it stuck with just not selling AR-15s, so be it. I’d have thought it was a stupid decision but within the company’s rights.
But Dick’s couldn’t just leave it there. It had to institute a discriminatory age limit for long gun sales – something that is blatantly illegal to do – and then double down by hiring lobbyists to push an assault weapon ban.
Dick’s deserves what’s happening to it.
The only downside is the people who are going to be hurt by the company’s actions. CEO Edward Stack claims that only 62 employees resigned over the policy, but I’m going to call male bovine excrement. If that number isn’t an outright fabrication, it’s only reflective of the number of people who clearly stated they were leaving over the policy. Others simply got new jobs and used that as the reason. People tend to be conflict-averse, so they come up with less divisive reasons to leave.
Such as a new job.
But the company is in trouble, and it’s because of decisions made not for the good of the company, decisions that could get Stack some brownie points and maybe an invite to sit at the cool kids’ table.
Of course, he may not be a corporate CEO for much longer if the company continues spiraling downward.
At what point will investors step in and right the ship?