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Jumping on this Bandwagon is Not Cool

May 10, 2018 - Larry Claypool
When are the anti-gun folks going to learn their lesson? Now the Texas-based YETI Coolers nerds have felt the wrath of the National Rifle Association’s members.

Now what did a pricey pop and sandwich cooler company do to tick off the NRA? And why does anyone care?

Actually there’s not a clear answer. Mostly because the fallout for YETI may be long standing. As for the NRA, they’ve attempted to smooth over the topic. For many NRA members, they’re pissed. And of course some people on social media (not necessarily NRA members) have offered distasteful views on the topic.

Here’s the basic gist of why people are upset: Supposedly, without prior notice, the folks at YETI sent notice to The NRA Foundation (a key fundraising arm of the NRA) that YETI no longer wants to be an NRA vendor, as part of the Foundation’s Friends of NRA merchandise package programs, named The Standard Merchandise Package and Vendor Direct. Essentially companies offer products, goods and services at reduced rates to the Friends of NRA to be used/raffled during community-based fundraising events. The NRA says there’s about 1,100 such fund-raising events held each year.

To view a list of these Friends of NRA supporters, visit: https://www.friendsofnra.org/IndustrySupporters.aspx.

YETI initially refused to say why they will no longer sell products to The NRA Foundation. The NRA-ILA distributed a response to YETI’s actions on April 20. YETI countered the NRA-ILA in a statement asserting that they were merely “eliminating a group of outdated discounting programs” which they had previously offered to a number of organizations, not just the NRA. My issue with YETI’s actions is the timing of the announcement. It followed a flurry of declarations from other American corporations in a backlash effort against guns. Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart stores started this firestorm by announcing they’d stop selling ‘AR-style’ firearms and Delta, United Airlines, Hertz, Enterprise, Avis, Symantec, MetLife and many others have said recently they’ll cut ties with the NRA and stop giving members discounts over the gun issue.

Given YETI’s customer base (outdoors people, covering many disciplines) it strikes me as odd that the cooler company would want to fight this battle. Jumping on this bandwagon, as I see it, is not cool!

Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is based in Pittsburgh, PA, has taken a hardline approach in the anti-gun fight, especially since the unfortunate February killing of 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where an AR-15 style rifle was used.

One American gun manufacturer is fighting back against Dick’s and its affiliate, Field & Stream. Iconic gun maker Springfield Armory recently announced this on social media: “Springfield Armory is severing ties with Dick’s Sporting Goods and its subsidiary, Field & Stream, in response to their hiring a group for anti-Second Amendment lobbying,” the maker of the popular XD, XDS, and XDm semi-automatic handgun lines wrote on its Facebook page. “This latest action follows Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision to remove and destroy all modern sporting rifles (MSR) from their inventory.”

Since YETI’s no longer sending products to the NRA’s fundraising gigs, I wondered if the National Wild Turkey Federation and Whitetails Unlimited banquets would no longer be getting YETI coolers in their stockings.

Dennis Malloy, regional field director of Whitetails Unlimited, who covers this region, said WU have never dealt with YETI. “We do have partnerships with Mommoth, Orca and Kysek,” said Malloy. Of two national officials I tried to contact at the NWTF, neither responded to me by presstime.

YETI Coolers may have been on a short list of ‘high end’ ice chest manufacturers a few years ago, but today there are many, many more fish in the sea of ‘rotomolded coolers’. Beside the three cooler companies mentioned above, here’s a list of cooler manufacturers I found online. They include: Engel, Pelican, Grizzly, Canyon, Igloo, K2 Summit, Coleman, Bird Dog, Milee, Bison, Esky and Siberian. I’m sure there’s many more.

I’m going to guess that YETI sales are going to remain cool for a while. Maybe a long while.

NOTE: Since this article originally ran in the May issue of the Ohio Valley Outdoor Times, a few other gun companies have announced they’ll stop selling firearms to Dick’s Sporting Goods over this riff. And the National Shooting Sports Foundation has revoked Dick’s membership.

 
 

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