After seeing the fallout from its decision to raise the buying age for rifles and to not sell AR’s at its Field & Stream stores, Ed Stack, the chief executive officer of Dick’s Clothing & Sporting Goods says it’s time to scrap hunting products at some of its outlets.
Later this year, all goods related to hunting will disappear from the shelves at 10 of the stores. Locations of the affected stores have not been identified.
Let’s see if we have this right. You’re a businessperson and you’ve been taught that the customer is always right and that the way to succeed is to offer things your customers want. So, you alienate a good percentage of your customers, then when you see you’ve succeeded at that, you drive another nail in the coffin just to make sure none of them ever come back and more leave. Huh? We’re not all MBA holders here, but that runs kind of contrary to common sense.
Stack told investors last week that the category hurt the retailer’s bottom line in its second quarter ending July 29—accounting for nearly half of its 4 percent decline in same store sales.
After alienating a good part of your customer base, what did you really expect, Dick’s? For sales revenue to go up?
Well, when you arbitrarily raise the age to buy rifles to 21, and you take one of the most popular styles of rifle in the country off your shelves, and then you decide to scrap all the guns and accessories you have in stock that don’t fall in line with your definition of an “OK gun,” then, yes, it’s not a leap to figure that anyone in the market for such products—and related accessories—would take their business elsewhere. So, what did you really expect, Dick’s? For sales revenue to go up?
The stock took an immediate nosedive, prompting Justin Danhof, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP)—a national proponent of free-market investor activism—to tweet: “.@DICKS stock getting hammered as same-store sales drop [per Reuters]. Company's anti-#2ndAmendment stance partly to blame. Gee, who predicted that? As we warned at the Dick's shareholder meeting, the company is willfully giving up money. $DKS.”
Danhof and his colleagues, you might remember, made the rounds at the annual meetings of companies that have taken a hard line against gun rights in the post-Parkland atmosphere. Of course, the executives tended to discount his opinion.
Ten stores might not seem like a lot, considering that Dick’s has 610 retail outlets. But it’s likely that this is just a trend that Stack will expand upon as time goes by, especially if the chain’s revenue doesn’t get back on track.
“We are executing our strategies to better navigate the dynamic retail environment and ensure the long-term success of Dick’s Sporting Goods,” Stack said. “We remain extremely confident and are upbeat about the future of our company.”
Well, it's nice to know he remains optimistic, but it’s hard to say whether he’s being realistic.
Although Dick’s saw its stock price recover from the 10-percent-plus drop in early trading last Wednesday, investors might become a little more vocal if the latest strategy hits them in the wallet. That likely won’t matter much to Stack, who has decided to use his position as a bully pulpit rather than to run a company in accordance with the most basic of economics principles. But then, he probably doesn’t have to worry much about keeping his business viable.