After Dick’s Sporting Goods announced this week that it will stop selling guns at some locations, the phone started ringing at the Dick’s store in the Boulevard Mall in Amherst.
“I’ve had a hundred people call about this today,” said the person answering in the firearms department.
Callers wanted to know if their local Dick’s would be one of the 125 that would take guns and other hunting products off shelves and replace them with batting cages and sports gear.
The company tested the switch at 10 stores in the fall with positive results. If the trend continues, it will make the change at additional stores, the company told analysts in a conference call Tuesday.
Dick’s has not yet released a list of stores that will eliminate their firearms departments, but the company said “underperforming” stores – where guns already aren’t selling well – would be the ones to go.
According to employees at the Boulevard Mall, Walden Galleria, Batavia, Clarence and Orchard Park stores, sales there are strong.
Pennsylvania-based Dick’s, which has 729 locations, is one of the largest firearms retailers in the country. Dick’s plan would end gun sales at roughly one of every six stores.
Gun sales boomed during the Obama era, when consumers feared gun control measures, but fell 25 percent after the NRA-backed President Trump took office, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Dick’s CEO Edward Stack’s actions have put him on the wrong side of pro-gun advocates, which has also affected the company’s earnings.
Rattled by reports that a mass shooter had once purchased a firearm at Dick’s, Stack made changes to the store’s gun sales policies and hired lobbyists to push gun control measures on Congress.
Sales were down 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter, which Stack attributed to pressure from Amazon but also backlash to policies put in place after the mass shooting.