Open For Business…Hard to Believe

shallow focus photo of white open sigange
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Even as more than 150 major retailers have closed down all of their physical stores due to coronavirus, there is a group of companies that remain open. Not because they are selling the kinds of things you and I would say are essential — food, drugs, cleaning products — but for other reasons that seem to defy logic.

In an effort to put these company’s questionable practices into the spotlight, we are keeping a running total of retailers we think have a lot of explaining to do on why they remain open (even as some of their stores are closed due to local situations or they are only open for curbside pick-ups or by appointment).

I don’t know, is Stupid too strong a word? You decide:

Academy Sports

Badcock Home Furniture & More

Barnes & Noble

Bass Pro Shops

Best Buy

Big 5 Sporting Goods

Cabela’s

Camping World

Dillard’s

Game Stop

GNC

Guitar Center

Hibbett Sports

Hobby Lobby

Joann

Michaels

RC Willey

Correction: an earlier version of this story mistakenly included Belk. They are closed.

3 comments

  1. Sporting goods stores sell survival gear. If this disease is something out of a Steven King novel then the people stocking up on hunting, fishing camping supplies as well as durable goods are a step ahead of us crammed into the cities worried about where we will get our lattes.

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  2. Editors Note: Sometimes the stories behind the headlines are worth going into more details. While this piece does give an overview of which stores remain open during the coronavirus crisis — and takes a somewhat harsh view of it — it’s not always that simple.
    After this posted I heard from Ken Hicks, CEO of Academy Sports, one of the retailers that remain open. Ken, if you know the retail world, is one of the most admired and well-regarded executives in the field and in his note to me, he went to great lengths to explain the circumstances of why Academy was still open. It’s an excellent case and to Ken’s credit, he took the approach of education rather than confrontation to make it. Here are excerpts from the letter, take a few minutes and give them your attention to better understand this complicated issue:
    “Academy Sports and Outdoors is a super regional big box retailer of a very diverse assortment. We have been around for over 80 years and our stores are located in the south and midwest. We are proud of our history and our service to our customers. Currently you have us on your “can you believe that they are open” list. I feel, more importantly our customers and many government agencies feel this is an inappropriate designation.
    “Academy’s stores and .com are still operating because we have been determined by CISA standards and most of the states we operate in as an essential retailer for their communities. We provide essentials such as water, food, cooking fuel, home fitness, safety and security items, pet supplies, animal feed, tools, shelter, severe weather preparedness, first aid to the public and local governments. We did not set the CISA standards that identify these items, but we have sold them continually and they are a substantial part of our business. We have had first responders in our stores in the past week to procure supplies they need such as ponchos for hospitals to use as personal protection and law enforcement for canopies to use for testing and control sites. Our customers are telling us that they need what we are selling them.
    “We are taking precautions to protect our customers and team members including limiting the number of people in a store at a time, spacing requirements, and providing sanitizing materials. We also ensure we follow whatever local community requires depending on their situation. All of the team members in our stores and DCs are volunteers and receive a stipend for working during the crisis. We all want to be there to help.
    “Some may question why a particular retailer is open and it is an appropriate question. I feel based upon what we sell and the steps we are taking to protect our customers and team members that it is worthwhile for Academy to stay open and serve our communities. The federal and state guidelines for essential retailers agree. More importantly the people living in our communities agree.”
    Well said Ken and we absolutely agree that you and Academy are doing the right thing.
    Thanks
    Warren

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    1. The CEO makes a great point for natural disasters where individuals may not have access to clean water, housing, or items to store and cook food. Not as critical for a virus breakout.

      Every business needs to take a critical look to see if another business may offer more critical items specific to a virus situation.

      The CEO mentions the employees that continue to work have volunteered and therefore he has increased their pay knowing they are more susceptible of contracting the virus based on exposure. What he did not mention are the
      employees who have chosen to abide by the stay at home order based on their individual circumstances. These individuals are not getting paid. Some may have vacation or personal days they can use to get paid, however these paydays will not last beyond 30 days. (This is a very generous amount of paid time off that is rare for a retailer)

      These individuals cannot apply for unemployment insurance.

      It’s really not an easy choice for an employee to follow the government and state stay at home orders if they are not being compensated.

      This is an unprecedented situation. The stay at home order has been put in place to save lives. It is financially impacting millions of companies and individuals.

      The Government and State officials are looking at ways to financially assist those that had no choice in closing during this time.

      The retail employers should look at the items they sell. If the majority of these items are not critical to assisting individuals to stay at home and eliminate the spread of the virus, they should close or continue to pay individual employees who are also making sacrifices by choosing to stay home.

      I am an employee of Cabelas/BassPro that has chosen to abide by the guidelines of the stay at home order of both the US Government and my State Governor. I am not getting paid during this time. Although the company does sell various items, the majority of our sales are clothing, fishing and hunting supplies. We were told our jobs were critical because we sell personal protection (Firearms and ammunition). This is true, but it is not normally the majority of our sales.
      Since the crisis has begun, firearms sales have increased throughout the country. I can’t help but feel like my employer has chosen the companies profit over individuals safety.

      Other locations throughout the country have closed. Why do we remain open when more
      diverse retailers in our area are more critical to staying open?

      Thanks for reading another point of view. Stay safe and do your best to stop the spread.

      Jill

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