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Our Relationship with Vista Brands

Posted by Eric Prosnitz on

Update May 5, 2018:

Vista Brands has announced plans to sell off its firearms businesses, including the division that made the highly lethal assault-style weapons. Given that they are a public company, such an announcement is extremely significant and will almost certainly occur. Vista also announced plans to sell off its Bell/Giro businesses. They will continue to make ammunition and accessories for hunting.

We believe this is a substantial step that was highly motivated by the public outcry and outdoor industry pressure. It sends a message to the NRA that other voices can speak loudly and effect change in America. I am proud of our efforts and significant sacrifices in this stand.

Given these events, we will resume our relationship with Vista Brands.  Camelback, Bell, Giro, Blackburn, and Jimmy Styks are no longer suspended.

Sincerely, Eric Prosnitz CEO, Sports Basement


 Written March 14, 2018:

At Sports Basement, we do not sell firearms. We never have. We are not making a political statement in this choice.  For us, sports are about play and competition, and health and wellness.

We have always strived to be an organization of high integrity -- to do the right thing even if no one is going to see it and even if it is hard. We also consider ourselves integral members of the communities we serve. We give back until it hurts. We also recognize that our community is a mix of voices, and that all those voices count. For this reason, we do not think we should have a company position on many issues that divide our country today.   

Within that context, we have diligently considered our relationship with Vista Brands, owner of a significant firearms division as well as several popular brands we carry (Camelbak, Giro, Bell Sports). Over 30,000 people, 3000 of whom are children and teens, are killed by firearms each year. No other Western country is close in absolute number or mortality rate. Common sense says the abundance, accessibility, and lethality of weapons in America bears some responsibility for these deaths. And yet, we are unable to have more reasonable laws governing guns.

We reached out to Vista Brands and talked to two senior executives in their Outdoor Products group. We asked them what they had done since being acquired by Vista Brands and what they planned to do going forward. Their response was not encouraging. We believe Vista has acted with little resolve in solving gun violence in the past, and we received no indication that this was changing going forward. To date, our requests to discuss the issue with the CEO have been denied.

The Florida school shooting may be a catalyst for change. We don’t know. But given our support for schools, support for youth organizations, and support for health and wellness, we feel compelled to provide support to this burgeoning movement. We will be suspending purchases of product from Vista Brands. We will post this letter on the displays of the impacted brands. We will allow consumers to make their choice of whether to purchase the remaining product from these brands.  

With our action, we are hoping to effect change at Vista Brands. We are hoping they can commit to supporting common-sense gun policies that save lives and have provided several concrete and significant suggestions in this area. The following Washington Post article describes these suggestions: Common Sense Gun Policies.


Sincerely,

Eric Prosnitz

CEO, Sports Basement


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6 comments


  • I’m not even going to make a comment (apart from this sentence referencing it) about gun policy.

    The fact the CEO won’t make time for a CEO of a vendor is abysmal. That is some of the poorest relationship building I’ve seen in a corporate culture.

    SB is doing the right thing for that alone.

    Jarek on

  • While I fully support your choice not to sell firearms, it is disappointing that you would turn around and bully your suppliers to align with such a divisive and political position. There are many tens of millions of American firearms owners who engage in a variety of sports or keep arms for self defense.
    To demonize firearms when less than .05% of guns in civilian hands are ever used in any crime is a slap in the face of law-abiding people who have committed no crime, and never will.

    Firearms are used by civilians to stop crimes and defend themselves around 2 million times annually. That’s a lot of rapes, murders and assaults that don’t happen because we have guns. That is not something to be ashamed of.

    There is debate about solutions to the violence in America (murder rate about average world-wide), but blaming the existence of an inanimate object is naive. Perhaps, since the majority of the 30,000 people killed in the U.S. by firearms each year are suicides, a more effective action would be to contribute to mental health programs.

    Nonetheless, while you take this alienating, polarizing, and disappointing position, and then claim virtue for it, I cannot in good conscience return to any of your stores.

    Mars on

  • I hope this gets “approved” for posting but it’s not as positive as the others so we’ll see. I agree that we need gun reform, better background checks (starting w fix NICS) and bans on AR weapons, bump stocks and high capacity magazines but I’m not sure how this boycott is taking a stand toward this goal exactly. Only those looking specifically at these brands will have the chance to see this. Plus you seem to be happy taking full profit from those who purchase them. How about donating the money to something that will actually create change? Stand up, take a stand and say it loud. Create change through action, something! Or sit down and stop pretending. I have been a cyclist my entire life and have been saved many times by Giro and Bell. These companies save lives. Being a Santa Cruz local I am proud of these companies (not vista but Giro, Bell and Blackburn) and what they stand for in our community. This is a short sighted mistake. Your’e hurting the wrong people in the wrong industry in an effort to do what’s needed. #NeverAgain, now that’s our countries future taking action and getting noticed. I’ll just buy my goods elsewhere and put my support where change can actually be made

    Travis on

  • Thank you for pushing Vista to make changes, and for taking a stand re: their inaction. I am grateful for these decisions and fully support SB in this. Thank you!

    Florencia on

  • +1 to Jaylee’s comment.
    I was browsing for a bike rear rack, when I noticed on the BlackBurn’s product page, “your answer to Vista Brands and gun control”.
    Very well said! Thank you Sports Basement for an inspiring perspective and stand on this!

    Mihail on


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