LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BRAIN) — After Vista Outdoor announced the sale of its firearms brands last week, REI quickly said it would resume buying products from the company, which owns the Bell, Giro, Blackburn and CamelBak brands, among others.
Some bike retailers who had been boycotting Vista over its sale of firearms and support for the NRA also have returned to the fold.
Louisville’s Parkside Bikes is “on board again. Without the firearms we are good to go,” said co-owner Jef Meyers. Myers said he had kept in touch with the brands’ sales rep and expected to resume the business as soon as the sale was announced. Meyers said he was able to increase sales of other brands during the boycott, but is looking forward to having the Vista brands back, especially Giro.
In Portland, Oregon, retailer Erik Tonkin said he was not ready to stock Vista Outdoor products yet since the company continues to sell ammunition. Tonkin, owner of Sellwood Cycle, doesn’t expect Vista Outdoor to sell its ammunition brands. But he’s waiting for the company to follow through on its promise to sell the bike P&A brands.
“It’s their ammunition business that really drives the company,” Tonkin said. “For REI to come back because they sold the firearms is a tiny bit cynical I think. It’s kind of a technicality.”
Vista Outdoor’s Savage Arms and Stevens firearms brands, which it sold last week for $170 million, had annual sales of less than $200 million, while Vista Outdoor’s ammunition sales were about $1 billion last year.
Vista announced last year that it intended to sell Bell, Giro, Blackburn and CoPilot (but not CamelBak) as well as the firearms brands as part of a brand realignment. More recently, the company has said it is in no rush to sell them and is likely to retain the brands for a few years and invest in their growth before selling them off.
In its statement announcing it would resume business with Vista Outdoor, REI said it made the decision because the company had found a buyer for Savage Arms. It also said “we believe companies that profit directly from the sale of guns have a civic responsibility to engage in the national discussion about gun safety, as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and others have done.”
It’s not clear that Vista Outdoor has begun to engage in a national discussion about gun safety, although the company no longer profits directly from the sale of guns.
Tonkin said it hasn’t been too difficult to replace most of the Vista products in his store, although he misses Giro helmets, Blackburn racks and especially CoPilot child carriers.
MEC, Canada’s outdoor retail cooperative chain, stopped stocking Vista Outdoor products last year, before REI did. The company has not said if it will resume the business following the firearms sale. BRAIN’s calls and emails to MEC’s spokesperson were not returned, but the company responded to a Twitter direct message from BRAIN, saying, “This new information is currently under review.”