I have been a Sales Manager in the cycling industry for roughly 5 years. During that time, I have experienced a dilemma – do I support cycling companies under a parent company that is at odds with my personal views?
The company at hand is Vista Outdoors: parent company of Bell, Giro, Blackburn, CoPilot and Camelbak. These are the cycling brands owned by Vista Outdoors. I have only ever used their Blackburn products for no other reason than Bell and Giro have never fit me well. I was excited when I tried Bell and Giro products a few months back at a pre-season dealer event and learned that they changed their lasts on their helmets. The fit is now excellent. I always knew of the connection to Vista Outdoors, but I didn’t give it much thought.
I am now at a dealer that is almost exclusive to Bell and Giro for many items and I feel the need to support my employer and the brands we carry. But, how can I do this when I disagree with Vista Outdoors’ support of the NRA? I’m not against owning guns, but I am against assault weapons, the sole purpose of inflicting the most damage in the fastest time, in the hands of everyday citizens. I’m sure that executives at Vista are just as troubled by the senseless shootings as I am, but now is their chance to stand up and say that sales do not have to come ahead of the murdering of citizens.
Given the Parkland shooting and the Governments inaction toward implementing smart gun laws or restrictions, I feel it is my time to stand up or risk being no better than Vista Outdoors or the politicians and lobbyists they support. What do I do now? Do I separate the cycling from the gun issue? Do I do my job and sell these brands and let the consumer do their own research about the brands they support?
The answer for me is that I won’t be supporting these brands and will continue to look at where my dollars go by supporting brands that have taken the higher ground over the almighty dollar. As an employee I will push the brands that I am confident in, but the consumer has to make their own decisions and do their own research.What I can say, is that I am happy to see additional action in my community. Here in Portland, Sellwood Cycles has decided to not only discontinue selling their products, they have also opted to return the products that they did carry. Steps like these get me excited for the future of the cycling industry, and the power we have as cyclists.