Binghamton native Ed Stack was back in town this week to promote his new book and give a keynote speech at the Holiday Inn in Downtown Binghamton, continuing his advocacy for the need for improved gun control.
Stack, chair and chief executive officer of DICK’S Sporting Goods, grew his $8.6 billion nationwide retail business from two mom-and-pop stores in Binghamton in 1948. Recently, Stack has been featured in the news after he ordered the destruction of $5 million worth of assault-style, semiautomatic rifles.
Stack’s presentation was held during a Binghamton University Forum event on Tuesday, exactly two weeks after the release of his book, “It’s How We Play the Game: Build A Business. Take A Stand. Make A Difference.” Stack autographed book sales in the hotel lobby and met attendees after his speech. The event was sold out and drew approximately 400 people, according to Ryan Yarosh, senior director of media and public relations at BU. The Binghamton University Forum is a membership organization whose mission is to bring together and inspire cooperation among the University, businesses and community leaders
National news headlines featured Stack in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, which claimed 17 lives. Stack said the tragedy was a turning point during which he realized that he had a responsibility to do something. Shortly after the shooting, he announced his company would destroy its inventory of assault-style rifles and no longer sell firearms to anyone under age 21.
Stack said about two weeks after he made the announcement, he and his wife were invited to meet with the victims’ families in Parkland.
“You want to talk about the day you’ll never forget,” Stack said. “Listening to those parents talk about their kids and what happened to them.”
Stack shared some of the dialogue he had with the victims’ parents, which included asking them for advice.
“I remember one woman who said to me, ‘It’s been a month since my son was killed. I go into his room every night, and I sit on his bed, and I talk to him,’” Stack said. “What they went through, no parent should ever have to go through that. So when we were leaving, I asked the parents, ‘What would you like me to do? And they said, ‘We would like you to keep the conversation going.’”
Stack said he took the advice to heart, and partially wrote his book to keep that commitment.
“That was a big watershed moment, and I need to make sure that we keep this conversation going, which is one of the reasons that I wrote the book,” Stack said. “I talk about how you build a business, to be in a position to make these kinds of differences.”
Stack started at the very beginning of his story, recounting when his grandmother first encouraged his father to start the business he dreamed about. His father, Dick Stack, opened shop with a donation of $300 from Stack’s grandmother’s cookie jar, Stack recalled in his speech. In 1984, when Stack took over running the company, it consisted of only two stores, both in Binghamton. Today, the company has grown to approximately 858 outlets nationwide.
All proceeds from sales of Stack’s book go to the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation, which promotes youth sports activities and supports “leagues, teams, athletes and outdoor enthusiasts” nationwide, according to the foundation’s website.