It’s “common sense.” When you treat your customers and your suppliers disreputably, it will come back to haunt your bottom line:
Following the Newtown shooting spree, Dick’s Sporting Goods changed their policy and stopped selling AR-pattern and other semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles, even the guns they had already sold.
If there’s a silver lining for all the people who were eagerly waiting for that Troy Carbine and were vastly dissappointed, it’s that Dick’s isn’t doing so well in the financial department.
At a time where the only thing a company has to do to sell firearms, ammo and accessories is to unlock their doors, Dick’s sales have flat-lined. In fact, their sales dropped 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 2011 and their shares 10 percent in the last quarter.
Dick’s CEO pointed his finger squarely at, well, Lance Armstrong. “People had a very negative reaction to the Livestrong brand,” he said at an earnings report.
Lance Armstrong recently confessed that he trafficked and used steroids, giving in to allegations of doping starting in 2004. His line of Livestrong goods makes up for half of Dick’s elliptical and trainer apparel.
Dick’s denied that their sales were low because of the store’s gun policy, instead they pointed the finger at the ammunition shortage.
But other sporting goods stores are not feeling the pinch despite the ammo drought. In fact, Cabela’s is doing better than ever and investors have been quick to point out that it’s because of their strong gun sales.
“Cabela’s Inc. stock closed up more than 16 percent, among leading gainers on the New York Stock Exchange, and hit a 52-week high Thursday after reporting strong financial results above the market’s and the company’s expectations.”
It is hard work to build a brand, and it is easy to damage one, but it takes a special kind of idiocy to offend your customers so deeply that they decide they never want to deal with you again.
I used to like Dick’s Sporting Goods a lot, and even worked for them in two different cities (Middletown, NY, and Cary, NC). I bought a lot of product from them over the years, in almost every department in the store. Now, even though they opened a store in Holly Springs near the Wake County range on a road where I almost trip on them on the way home, I won’t visit them again as a matter of principle. Ever.
Dicks’ Edward Stack is either lying to himself, his investors, or both. The company’s treatment of gun purchasers was horrific enough, but the way they treated supplier Troy made many shooters I know swear off the company for life, and that affects the bottom line as the numbers show. Frankly, I think Stack and any others in management who had a hand in this decision should be forced to step down for the damage they’ve caused to the brand.
It wasn’t just business. When you offend people’s values, it becomes personal.