Listen to This Article
Download: Americans buying military gears
Since last year, online purchases have driven a 20-fold jump in sales of goods like the $220 CM-6M gas mask — resistant to bean-bag rounds — for Mira Safety of Austin, Texas.
A shift became apparent with this spring’s Black Lives Matter protests and bitterly resented pandemic lockdowns. Now the gear is everywhere, from camouflage-clad antifa supporters to right-wing extremists who appeared at Michigan’s capitol even after men were arrested in a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
It doesn’t matter who gets elected,” founder Roman Zrazhevskiy said of his new customers. “They think that no matter who wins, Biden or Trump, there are going to be people who are upset about the result.”
“It’s evidence of what many people have been expressing concern about for the last six months — the stress associated with the pandemic, a frustration or anger about various government mitigation efforts and a belief that those efforts are infringing on their individual liberties,” said Elizabeth Neumann, a former assistant secretary for threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security.
We’ve seen a big uptick coming out of New York, New Jersey, Illinois — not just those states but Chicago, Manhattan, Queens and San Francisco,” he said. “We never did business with folks from San Francisco.”
His biggest seller is a $220 body-armor plate meant to withstand bullets fired from an AK-47.
Before the pandemic, 5.11 Tactical, based in Irvine, California, was opening two stores a month, drawing customers for “Always Be Ready” events akin to cooking demonstrations at Williams Sonoma. Amid racks of military-style boots, pants and vests, the classes taught self defense, trauma care and “everyday/concealed carry.”
Unexpectedly high consumer sales maintained growth during lockdowns, according to Compass Diversified Holdings Inc., a Westport, Connecticut-based company that owns 5.11 Tactical among a portfolio that also includes Ergobaby infant carriers.
Same-store sales including e-commerce rose 10.5% in the second quarter after 7.5% growth in the first quarter, Chief Operating Officer Pat Maciariello told analysts on a conference call in July.
Excerpts from Bloomberg Quint