Running Room to let CamelBak supply dry up

The Canadian chain Running Room has joined Mountain Equipment Co-op in a decision to drop brands owned by Vista Outdoor Inc.

Like MEC, the Edmonton-based chain won't restock product from gun and ammunition maker

One of the approximately 120 Running Room stores across Canada in downtown Ottawa. The chain won't restock CamelBak products after a consumer backlash. (Florence Ngué-No/Radio-Canada)

The Canadian chain Running Room has joined Mountain Equipment Co-op in a decision to drop outdoor gear brands owned by Vista Outdoor Inc.

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

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 on a school in Florida.

Running Room founder and president John Stanton said his stores have carried CamelBak products like water bottles and backpacks for the past 15 years, but will heed a recent surge of customer feedback urging them to drop the brand.

"There's been an overwhelming response in a positive way that we're doing the right thing," he said.

Stanton said his company won't remove CamelBak products from the shelves of the company's 120 stores across Canada, along with two in the U.S.

Instead, it will simply let CamelBak stock run dry.

CamelBak makes water bottles and backpacks for distance runners that hold water. (Florence Ngué-No/Radio-Canada)

Since Camelbak isn't the only way to have a drink of water, Stanton says it will be easy to find a replacement brand that isn't owned by company that also owns firearm and munitions brands.

"It's not like it's the only product out there. There's a plethora of others," he said.

'I admire them'

Outside an Ottawa Mountain Equipment Co-op, it was easy to find happy campers.

"I think it's fabulous. I think it's exactly what they should do," said Gail Joynt.

"I've shopped here for 30 years. I buy their products all the time and I admire them for taking a stand, because we're Canadian." 

"I think it’s fabulous. I think it’s exactly what they should do," said MEC shopper Gail Joynt of the co-op's decision to drop Vista Outdoor Inc Brands. (Stu Mills/CBC)

MEC's president David Labistour said the co-op had heard from thousands of its members, each saying in a slightly different way that what they wanted was some distance between it and gun companies.

"We believe that the commonality is around gun control and the lack of sensible gun control," said Labistour of the feedback.

He announced the co-op's decision on the company's website.

It's hard to say whether the actions of a few Canadian retailers will mean much to the U.S. sporting goods giant.

Vista Outdoor's share price had been climbing last month until the day of the Florida school shooting -- but it has fallen from about $20 American a share on February 14, to about $17 at yesterday's close.

"It would be hubris to think that we have control, but what we do have is influence," said Labistour.