The outdoor retailer REI has suspended its relationship with a company that supplies some of its most popular brands, including CamelBak and Giro, because the conglomerate also manufactures guns and ammunition.
REI said on Thursday that it would place a hold on any future orders with Vista Outdoor, a conglomerate that recently acquired several popular adventure brands that have long been featured in REI locations. But Vista Outdoor also owns Savage Arms, a gun manufacturer and retailer that stocks several models of semi-automatic “modern sporting rifles.” Such manufacturers are facing backlash after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.
The Seattle-based REI said it had been in discussions with Vista Outdoor for the past week, and that the two companies’ relationship would be put on hold since REI learned that Vista Outdoor would not make a public statement “that outlines a clear plan of action” regarding common-sense gun control measures.
“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,” REI said in a statement. “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.”
Numerous petitions have been calling for some of the nation’s biggest retailers, including REI, to end their relationships with gun manufacturers and firearm lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association. This week, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart said they would no longer sell guns to anyone under the age of 21. Dick’s also said it would immediately end all sales of assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines in its stores.
CamelBak, one of the companies owned by Vista Outdoors, said efforts to boycott the brand were misplaced after another outdoor retailer, Canada’s Mountain Equipment Co-op, announced that it would suspend orders of the company’s products.
“Our brand falls within the Outdoor Products segment of our company, which operates separately from Vista Outdoor’s Shooting Sports segment,” CamelBak said in a statement. “Since 1989, CamelBak has been committed to forever changing the way people hydrate and perform. Our passion and love for the outdoors is unchanged. We are deeply committed to the individuals and communities we serve and we proudly partner with organizations to promote the enjoyment of the outdoors.“
REI has been no stranger to political statements in recent months. CEO Jerry Stritzke said he was “mad as hell” after the Trump administration decided to dramatically scale back two national monuments in Utah ― Bears Ears, which was cut by about 85 percent, and Grand Staircase-Escalante, which was reduced roughly by half.
“REI will not retreat from our strong belief that there is common ground in the outdoors,” the company said at the time. “We will continue to pursue bipartisan support to protect public lands and prevent death by a thousand cuts. REI members can be assured that we will honor our shared passion for our public lands, dedicating time and resources to leaving them healthier for future generations.”