To succeed in business, you have to serve a need among customers.
As some of the country’s largest retailers cut back their gun offerings in the wake of February’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, one retailer has gone in a different direction.
The result? Higher sales.
Sportsman’s Warehouse has a new CEO, and he was very frank about the company’s plans when it comes to firearm sales.
“We continue to support the legal sale of firearms under the Second Amendment,” Jon Barker said during a March 28 conference call to discuss the company’s quarterly earnings report.
Guns, ammunition, and other hunting and shooting items account for nearly half of the company’s overall sales. And those sales improved in a quarter when some of the company’s largest competitors scaled back gun and ammunition sales.
Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would stop sellingassault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines at its Field & Stream store locations following the tragedy in Parkland, and it would stop selling guns to anyone younger than 21.
Walmart also banned the sale of guns or ammunition to anyone under 21 years of age. Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, stopped selling guns and ammo to customers who are younger than 21 years old at its Fred Meyer stores.
A few weeks after announcing its new policy, Dick’s reported a larger-than-expected decline in store sales from the previous year.
“There’s going to be some pushback and we expected that,” Dick’s CEO Edward Stack told Wall Street analysts of the drop. “There are going to be the people who don’t shop us anymore for anything.”
Stack also predicted the new gun policy is “not going to be positive from a traffic standpoint and a sales standpoint.”
But it has been positive for Sportsman’s Warehouse.
“That’s having an impact on our business,” Barker said of his competitors’ new policies. “We’re off to a strong start to the year … It’s bringing more people into the stores. We’re seeing good traffic.”
Barker said firearm sales were up 3.2 percent on a same-store basis from the same period a year ago “as we continue to gain market share in the states where we serve.”
Baker also noted the company’s online sales have also increased.
It’s worth noting that the quarterly results announced by Dick’s and Sportsman’s Warehouse cover only a brief period of time after the Parkland shooting. The larger impact of their respective decisions, as well as those of Walmart and Kroger, won’t be truly reflected on those companies’ bottom lines for several more months.
But as gun control advocates use the Parkland shooting to push their agenda, the economic reality of supply and demand — as well as the loyalty of Second Amendment supporters — is proving to be a recipe for success for Sportsman’s Warehouse.