Office supply chain Staples is backing down after banning a Nebraska gun shop from entering a company contest.
Maple Creek Gunsmithing, a gun retailer in Fremont, tried to enter a Staples small business “Push it Forward” contest for a shot at winning a $50,000 marketing campaign. Instead, the owners got an email from Staples saying they couldn’t participate because their business promotes firearms and weapons.
Well, the little gun shop has since gotten some free publicity anyway, thanks to outrage from the gun community.
The gun shop owners — Travis Vonseggern and Bill Jackson — posted the Staples email on their Facebook page and wrote, “Wow we spent a ton of money with them and this is the support we get. We are never spending a dime in that store again and would encourage you to do the same.”
Vonseggern said the store has gotten calls and emails of support from across the country from people who are boycotting Staples.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said.
He and Jackson opened the store in July of 2012 after meeting in school after he returned home from Iraq in 2006-2007 with a traumatic brain injury and Purple Heart. He said injuries were caused by IEDs, or improvised explosive devices. His time in combat made him appreciate his freedom in America.
The store is filled with “pro-second-amendment stuff,” he said.
“We stand pretty strong on our constitution and right to bear arms,” he said. “We both have a love for guns.
A candidate for governor in Nebraska, Sen. Charlie Janssen, saw their Facebook post and called on Staples to revise its contest criteria and allow legal gun retailers to participate.
“The targeting of those who legally buy and sell guns is totally unacceptable,” Janssen wrote in an email to supporters.
Janssen said the owners are Army veterans — Vonseggern has a Purple Heart — that he calls “great guys” who are well-respected in Fremont and offer gun training courses.
“They (run) a great business,” he told Nebraska Watchdog on Friday.
The Boston-based company has since apologized to the store owners, saying it erred and will allow the firearms industry to participate in future contests. Staples spokeswoman Carrie McElwee said the company posted a note on its Facebook page, saying, “We heard you!” and now realizes the rules of the contest were “too restrictive and kept out legitimate businesses.”
Staples said it can’t change the rules since the contest is already under way, but it will revise them to ensure future contests “are more inclusive and reflect our commitment to helping all small businesses.”
Janssen said Staples’ response “sends a good message.” He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights, sponsoring a bill this year designed to thwart new federal restrictions on guns in Nebraska. The bill didn’t make it out of committee, but Janssen says a petition calling for action on the bill has so far garnered more than 10,000 signatures.
Ironically, Vonseggern figures the store has gotten at least $50,000 worth of free publicity, with guns coming in for repairs from around the nation.
“I think we probably got more than that,” he said.