Thursday, March 01, 2018

MEC's delisting of Vista products a tiny salvo in a huge battle

Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC), the righteous and right-on Canadian outdoor equipment store, is reacting to the latest American school shooting by pulling from its stores products made by Vista Outdoor Inc, an American outdoorsy conglomerate which also makes rapid-fire automatic rifles with high-capacity magazines, the type used to such devastating effect recently in the Florida shooting.
MEC is a consumer cooperative which prides itself on being environmentally, socially and politically responsible. Apparently, "hundreds" of members have contacted the company in the wake of the Florida shootings asking - nay, demanding - that it delist Vista and Vista-owned products (which include BollĂ©, Bushnell, Camelbak and Jimmy Styks, among others) from its shelves. This covers innocent items like stand-up paddle boards, water bottles and binoculars. MEC does not, of course, actually sell guns, but they clearly feel the need to be seen to be responding to this latest American enormity.
I can kind of see where they are coming from, and it is part and parcel of the minor commercial backlash that is currently going on in the States, with companies like WalMart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Kroger, etc, at least partially clamping down on the sale of automatic and assault weapons. It does make you wonder, though, what practical use such a gesture can be. Losing a few sales in Canada is not going to persuade Vista to stop manufacturing guns, and it does smack of grandstanding to some extent by the Canadian company. But I guess this is how boycotting campaigns begin, and it is difficult to object too strenuously.
As one radio commentator observed, if MEC is so environmentally and socially responsible, maybe they should not be selling items made of plastic, given that the ocean is awash with micro-beads and birds are strangling themselves with plastic packaging. There is so much wrong with the world that it is difficult to know where to start, and how far to go with any kind of protest. But I guess we all pick our battles, and even small gestures can have a small effect.

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