In a time of seemingly unrelenting mass shootings, American corporations, especially retailers, have struggled to respond. In September, 145 CEOs signed a letter to the U.S. Senate demand- ing tougher background checks and better red-flag laws to deny guns to potentially dangerous individuals. Ed Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods was one of those CEOs. But Stack was already far ahead of his peers. After 17 students and staff were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in
2018, Stack led the company to decide
to permanently remove assault rifles from
its 850 stores, which include Dick’s, Field
& Stream, and Golf Galaxy. It has also
stopped selling guns of any sort to anyone
under 21 years of age. These policies would
cost Dick’s some $250 million in sales as
some outraged customers boycotted the
store. But Stack, a gun owner, never looked
back. Sales have since rebounded, and the
company is on the way to revenue of about
$9 billion this year. In his book, It’s How We
Playthe Game, Stack takes readers through
the days following Parkland, and subsequent decisions to back away from parts of
the gun business as Dick’s business evolved.
It’s How We Playthe Game is also a
tale about the mom-and-pop tackle
shop started by Dick Stack in Binghamton,
New York, which his son Ed transformed
into a dominant, publicly traded retailer.
The hard-drinking, no-nonsense pop was
scarred by early failure and was notoriously
tough on his son. Ed was raised in the
store, and by the time he became an adult,
he wanted nothing to do with sporting
goods or his overbearing old man.
Fate would intervene.
HOOK, LINE, AND SINKER
Dick Stack, right, pictured here with his brother, Ed,
opened a classic bait-and-tackle shop in Binghamton,
New York, in 1948. Things didn’t go according to plan.
If you don’t have people who will call BS on you, and you start to believe your own BS, you have a problem.