MEC says it will stop selling products from gun, ammo maker Vista Outdoor

Mountain Equipment Co-op says it will stop selling products from Vista Outdoor, bowing to pressure to distance itself from the sports and recreation company, which makes and distributes items including guns and ammunition, after last month’s school shooting in Florida.

Vancouver-based MEC announced Thursday morning its stores will stop using the U.S. company as a supplier.

MEC has been selling Vista-owned brands including Bollé, Bushnell, CamelBak and Jimmy Styks for years, even before Vista acquired them. 

Vista was created in 2015 from a spinoff of aerospace and defence firm Alliant Techsystems Inc.

Vista also manufactures and sells guns and ammunition, including rifles under brand names such as Savage Arms, as well as Fox. 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, and others.

Major U.S. retailers including Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kroger and others have in recent days pledged to stop selling that type of assault-style weapon, and also stop selling weapons and ammunition of any kind to anyone under 21.

Although MEC doesn’t sell gun and ammunition products, it, too, has faced pressure to distance itself from the company.

“It has recently come to light that several brands MEC sells are owned by a corporation that has holdings in the manufacture of assault-style weapons,” CEO David Labistour said in a release Thursday morning. “Thousands of MEC members have contacted us to express their concerns and to ask that we stop selling products made by these brands.”

MEC Mountain Equipment Co-op

Mountain Equipment Co-Op has 22 locations across Canada, and focuses on selling sports, fitness and other products. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

After days of consultation, MEC decided to stop selling brand names owned by Vista once their current inventory is gone.

“Existing inventory will remain on our shelves until it has sold through,” the Canadian company said in a statement.

​The move is a no-brainer for MEC, says Ken Wong, a marketing professor with the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

MEC, founded in 1971, is a consumer co-operative that sells health, fitness and outdoor living products to members. There are nearly two dozen stores across Canada.

“MEC is not a place I associate with hunting,” Wong said in an interview this week. “It’s hiking and enjoying the great outdoors.”

“For MEC there really isn’t a lot of risk of banning that company,” Wong said. “In fact, one would almost argue it’s consistent with their brand.

“From that perspective I think it would be a good move for MEC.”


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