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MEC to stop ordering from gun-linked company

03 March, 2018, 05:00 | Author: Samuel Sharp
  • Canadian outdoor store bows to pressure on guns

MEC, based in Vancouver, sells neither firearms nor ammunition, but said it would quit selling five brands owned by Vista, including CamelBak, Bollé and Bushnell, in an effort to distance itself from the US gun-maker.

The decision comes amid a rapid trend: Numerous U.S. companies are backing away from deals they have with the National Rifle Association.

But MEC went a step further.

"I only discovered a week ago that my children's CamelBak water bottles and the Bushnell binoculars that I bought for my 10-year-old who is into birding were associated not only with the gun lobby, but with companies that manufactured assault weapons", said Sarah Latha, a 39-year-old mother of three who works for the provincial government in Ontario.

Savage Arms in particular makes rapid-fire semi-automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines, which are functionally similar to the weapon used in last month's attack on a school in Florida. The co-op doesn't actually sell guns, but had been selling the Vista Outdoor-related products.

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. When MEC changed its brand name to initials from Mountain Equipment Co-op, some people were upset.

Canadian merchant Running Room, which bills itself as "North America's largest specialty retailer" of running and walking gear, followed suit shortly thereafter, saying: "Our management teams are now doing a full review of our suppliers and vendors for any other potential conflicts".

The debate about Vista Outdoor has been heated. A major concern for the boycott centers around the incorrect assumption that the purchase of any of our products may support a cause that does not fit the mission/values of our brand.

Vista did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and has not issued any public response to the decision by the retailers.

Tracey Wilson, spokeswoman for the Canadian Coalition for Firearms Rights (CCFR) said in statements sent to RCI this morning. MEC said analyzing corporate structures will take time to figure out. It was acquired by Vista in 2015 for $412 million.

"If you start thinking about the global supply chain, every one of us is involved in something that is against our values: If it's not Vista, maybe you're connected to someone who designs logos for one of Vista's brands", Gupta said.

For now, REI and MEC will stop ordering CamelBak and other products from Vista Outdoor. Ltd. are carrying on business as usual. Existing inventory would continue to be sold in the store. "Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor's Shooting Sports segment", the company said in a statement.

"Canadian Tire and its family of companies carries a wide assortment of products ranging from sporting goods and casual apparel to automotive and home decor", company spokeswoman Joscelyn Dosanjh said in an e-mailed statement.

It became clear that the company's members weren't taking aim at the issue of hunting or sport shooting but wanted to see more discussion around gun control, he said.



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