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Was the Gun Ban Hidden from ESOS Vendors?

I’ve pondered privately if the decision to ban modern semi-automatic firearms from the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show was actually made prior to any key deadlines for vendors to pull out of their contracts with minimal loss of deposits. I don’t know the key contract dates since I’m not a vendor, but we do seem to have some level of confirmation that Reed Exhibition did not disclose their decision to vendors in a timely manner.

Reed’s statement on the ban – which appears to have been news to many of the exhibitors – appeared on January 15. That’s 8 days ago. Rumor started to leak publicly around January 11. That’s only 12 days ago. According to a member of the NSSF Board of Governors, they knew about the looming ban for nearly a month and tried to get Reed to change its position.

As a member of the Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, I have been working, in good faith, with Reed to find a compromise to allow the show to continue at the caliber to which my fellow exhibitors, manufacturers and the more than 200,000 attendees have come to expect. After nearly a month of discussions, which concluded yesterday, I believe a compromise will not be reached.

I also made a comment to Sebastian earlier today that something must have come to a head today or yesterday. To suddenly have Smith & Wesson and Ruger announce they won’t support the show, along with The Outdoor Channel suddenly no longer being listed as an event sponsor, and big groups like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation dropping out, it was all quite a bit for one day. The statement from The Sportman’s Shop confirms that something big happened yesterday that was enough to send most of the industry fleeing without looking back.

Several people have said that the real impact to Reed’s bottom line may not be this year. Instead, it will likely be next year. Here’s what one vendor has to say about the economic bind he’s in with the show:

Provided Reed doesn’t change its stance, something Olien said the company told him it does not intend to do, Olien will decided by the weekend if it’s worth risking the trip.

One things is for sure.

Even if he comes this year, there will be no second trip for MN next winter.

He predicts a lot of vendors will be making a similar decision.

“I can’t afford to be associated with a show that’s so wishy-washy,” Olien said. “It’s been a wonderful show in the past, but they really flubbed it up. This show will always have a stigma as being that show.”

Reed has successfully made the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show a dirty brand name. For exhibitors, they have created the perception that they are unreliable and will not treat you fairly. For attendees, they are still promising celebrities and vendors they cannot deliver. At this point, the local media hitting Reed’s target audience for attendance is reporting that attendees can expect about 15% of booths to be empty. There’s still another week and a half for more vendors to pull out, so that could increase – along with the number of headlines about how much smaller the show will be. If people pay their $14/head to get in and find out that many of the stalls are empty, they will not be pleased and will not return for future shows.

Reed may have told NSSF that all legal firearms will be allowed next year, but it’s pretty clear that all vendors will not return, nor will all attendees.

14 Responses to “Was the Gun Ban Hidden from ESOS Vendors?”

  1. Rydak says:

    Reed is a monstrous company, they could probably care less if the entire show never happened ever again. We need to have this run by a company that actually cares about the feelings of its customers, users and such.

    • Patrick says:

      Exhibition halls have contracts with a limited number of promoters and firms. Reed might “own” this location.

      That said, nothing says Reed has to have control over such a wide swath of the exhibitors. Denying entire product lines is over the top, and evidence that NSSF screwed this up. They should have had control. Unless they just rented their name to Reed. In which case, they screwed up big time.

      • Harold says:

        Errr, I thought NSSF’s involvement was limited to their being in the middle, Reed is screwing a bunch of their members and Reed puts on their own trade show.

        It sounds like the NSSF tried really hard to negotiate something reasonable up through yesterday—and that may be why their previous statement was so bad—but now it’s over for this show.

  2. Patrick says:

    Lots of rumors about “one vendor” causing all this ruckus. Still waiting to hear more info.

    All this drama. Reed sucks. No surprise. They are not of us.

    I’ll be happy when NSSF makes good with people. That won’t happen unless enough manufacturers tell NSSF to work for them, and not Reed.

  3. Patrick says:

    And another thought: who the hell hires an exhibition company that controls your vendors?

    Seriously. Someone should get fired for making that basic mistake. NSSF should be promoting and filling the show. Reed should be pushing the booths from the dock to the floor, providing power and cool drinks. That’s it.

    I know a thing or two about these events. I got family that travels the nation doing them for all promoters, including Reed and SHOT. They tell me this is BS and amateur. Reed should not be controlling exhibitors. NSSF should.

    Unless Reed just pimps the NSSF brand. In which case, this is a perfect example of why you never let someone else use your brand without your absolute control. Again: amateur hour.

  4. Patrick says:

    For the record, the main reason I care is these guys ruined a good show. And I am sick of fair-weather friends. NSSF needs to get off the damn fence.

    • Bitter says:

      Maybe I’m reading your comments wrong, but I think you might be a bit confused. NSSF has nothing to do with the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show. They just issued a comment on the policy by the for-profit company that does run it – Reed Exhibition. Reed has total control of the Eastern Sports & Outdoor show because they are the organizers.

      NSSF uses Reed as a vendor for SHOT, but the policy wasn’t put in place for SHOT. Nor would Reed have any authority to put such a restriction on SHOT because they are merely the exhibition vendor in that case.

      • Harold says:

        Added point I mentioned above: NSSF also has standing in that Reed is screwing over a bunch of its members. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons they took what was probably the leading role in the negotiations, that’s a reason their members belong, they collectively speak with a much bigger voice.

        But as has been noted elsewhere, all this is pretty small time stuff for a giant like Reed Elsevier, a 9.5 billion US$ company in 2011 (Wikipedia + Yahoo Finance for the GBP->USD conversion); that’s more than twice the size of the US gun and ammo market (although NSSF’s remit and members go beyond that).

      • Harold says:

        Yikes, one other nasty factor in this: per the above, the negotiations started before the SHOT Show did. Reed had the whip hand until it finished, forget about the issue of the two probably already having signed a contract for the 2014 SHOT Show.

      • Patrick says:

        Even after looking at a number of posts and articles I was under the impression that NSSF was promoting the ESOS show. It looks like I was wrong. Thank you for the context.

        I will adjust my ire accordingly, but still lay claim to the annoyance that was their wishy-washy statement. Hope they fix that soon.

        NSSF is needed in this fight. Maryland released text yesterday that would prohibit the service of any banned firearm in Maryland, if it was for civilian use. There is no exemption for servicing arms from out of state. So any black rifle from LWRC, or any pistol with a threaded barrel sent to Beretta is not going to get service. Under the law, even sending it there will subject you to a serious criminal charge. Forget about the companies here who do a great job at custom painting and coating of rifles. Out of business if this passes.

        NSSF hired a lobbyist in Annapolis but has been quiet since. We don’t need them behind closed doors. We need them loud and proud.

  5. Zermoid says:

    I can definitely see Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show going the same way Smith & Wesson did after they rolled over in the face of lawsuits when the other gun makers stood up to them.
    They were a toxic brand for about a decade.
    It’s gonna take alot to regain trust from the gun community after this fiasco. If they ever do…….

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