Just last week it was announced that the outdoor franchise Gander Mountain had been sold at auction to Camping World. Most people, including myself, thought nothing of it, except for would our local stores remain open and how would this affect the price of our equipment. However a select few remembered an incident back in 2012 that made me realize that there was more to the story.
The incident involved the television show, Celebrity Apprentice, which was hosted by our sitting president, Donald Trump. Anti-hunting groups started a media firestorm when pictures of Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald Jr, after an African hunting trip came to light. They were pictured with an elephant, leopard, crocodile, kudu, civet cat and waterbuck. These pictures were the typical grip and grin pictures you see on most African Hunting websites, nothing out of the ordinary.
After the pictures were released Camping world, CEO Marcus Lemonis decided that he was pulling sponsorship from the show stating, “Celebrity Apprentice, wouldn’t spend another nickel with them.”
Lemonis adds, “I am totally disgusted by the [hunting] pics I have seen and was surprised to see them … Money is spent but wow I’m really shocked.”
At the time hunter pushed pack against Camping World and called for a boycott. In response Camping World issued this statement.
“To clarify our position, Camping World as America’s Largest Outdoor company, believes in personal freedom. In this country, people are free to choose. This issue at hand is not about whether people should be able to hunt or not. Our company is neither for nor against hunting. We are for personal choice and having people enjoy the outdoors in whatever fashion they choose. However, in our opinion, if and when the hunting of endangered species occurs, whether in the United States or abroad, it is not acceptable to even the most avid of hunters. We remain strong in our conviction of preserving the outdoors, protecting our great country’s lands and the freedom to choose. “
In response to the Camping World statement, Laurie Lee Dovey, Executive Director of the Professional Outdoor Media Association, wrote the following:
Dear Camping World Customer Service and Executives:
I read the statement on your Facebook page. It says and clarifies nothing. What does personal freedom mean in this context? Are you trying to say CW has the right to choose where it does or does not advertise. Of course you do, no one debates that point.
Here’s the issue — the reason you gave for pull advertising from “The Apprentice”, and the condemnation of legal hunting and hunters. Here’s what is unquestionably anti-hunting and why you’re losing hundreds and I suspect eventually thousands of customers:
1) CW falling for the “animal butchery” kind of erroneous reporting by groups like tmz.com, the gossip website — or other news sources who reported/opined about the Trumps “legal” hunting falsely and with a political agenda.
2) Your CEO statement: “Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis tells TMZ, the company’s TV spots already aired on this season of “Celebrity Apprentice” — but he insists, “I wouldn’t spend another nickel with them. Marcus adds, “I am totally disgusted by the [hunting] pics I have seen and was surprised to see them … Money is spent but wow I’m really shocked.”
Here’s the simple question, I and all in my industry (the hunting, fishing, shooting, camping, outdoors), have for you. Can you simply admit you/Lemonis make a mistake by listening to and being influenced by uninformed, sensationalists without doing your/his homework on the issue, and then simply say you “support legal hunting?” That’s the question you’ve not answered.
Until such time as CW answers the question by making a public statement and apologizes, I will not support CW or its parent/affiliate companies in any way. In addition, I’ll be reaching out to all of my contacts at the companies, whose products you carry, to let them know that I will no longer support a blatantly anti-hunting company.
You owe the Trump family and businesses a sincere apology. You owe all hunters, who are the world’s greatest conservationists, a sincere apology.
Like I mentioned before all this happened in 2012. It seems that a lot of hunters, myself included, have short memories. When I heard Camping World acquired Gander Mountain it did not even ring a bell. I am glad others brought this to my attention.
First thing I did was check and see if Camping World had the same CEO, and they do, Marcus Lemonis still runs the company. It seems odd that a company that made such blatant anti-hunting statement would buy acquire a company that’s main business is hunting. It seems to me that Camping World only supports hunting if they can make a profit on it.