US 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.
REI follows in the footsteps of Canadian outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op and numerous independent bike shops in suspending orders as a result of a growing boycott of brands owned by Vista.
REI has 152 stores in the US and a substantial online business.
Vista acquired Camelbak in 2015 and Giro, Bell and Blackburn in 2016. The publicly-traded company (VSTO) owns 50 outdoor brands including Savage Arms and the Federal Premium Ammunition and is a large contributor to the NRA. Vista has been slow to respond to calls for action and a coherent strategy in curbing gun violence.
REI received thousands of signatures calling on the consumer-owned brand to cut ties with all brands owned by Vista in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida, high school.
On Thursday, REI released the following statement:
“REI does not sell guns. We believe that it is the job of companies that manufacture and sell guns and ammunition to work towards common sense solutions that prevent the type of violence that happened in Florida last month. In the last few days, we’ve seen such action from companies like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart and we applaud their leadership.
“This week, we have been in active discussions with Vista Outdoor, which has recently acquired several companies that are longtime partners of REI. These include Giro, Bell, Camelbak, Camp Chef and Blackburn. Vista also owns Savage Arms, which manufactures guns including 'modern sporting rifles.'
“This morning we learned that Vista does not plan to make a public statement that outlines a clear plan of action. As a result, we have decided to place a hold on future orders of products that Vista sells through REI while we assess how Vista proceeds.
“Companies are showing they can contribute if they are willing to lead. We encourage Vista to do just that.”
Giro, Bell, CamelBak and Blackburn have not commented on the actions of REI.
Giro did post this message on its website in response to the growing boycott:
“As you may know, in the wake of the recent tragic shooting at a Florida school, there have been calls on social media for a boycott of Giro products because of its association with Vista Outdoor, a company that also owns separate businesses in the shooting sports industry. 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. That is not the case. Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment.”
CamelBak posted a similar message.