Outdoor Retailer - May 2021 - 37
The King Soopers
shooting left 10 dead and
sent a wave of grief
through the community.
Neptune Mountaineering employees could hear the gunfire during the King Soopers
shooting and sheltered in place during hours of uncertainty. In the aftermath,
the legendary outdoor retailer found strong ties in a supportive community.
by Cameron Martindell
JUST BEFORE 2:30 P.M. ON MONDAY, MARCH 22, 2021, MEMBERS OF THE
staff of Neptune Mountaineering working in the shipping and receiving
department heard a series of loud pops. They attributed the sounds to construction happening in the unit across the corridor that was being remodeled into a new dance studio. Minutes later, a manager came through to lock
the shipping and receiving door and gathered everyone into the offices in
the back of the store.
This was the beginning of a five-hour lockdown. Those loud pops were
not from the construction site. They were gunshots from a Ruger AR556 pistol modified to act like a rifle that was being fired in the parking lot
Neptune shares with the King Soopers grocery store. Many of Neptune's
employees regularly go to this King Soopers for their lunch break, and employee Matt Crossley happened to change his mind and was at Abo's Pizza
when someone came running in to alert everyone of the active-shooter situation. Crossley immediately took cover with the other people and called one
of Neptune's managers on duty to warn his co-workers to go into lockdown.
In the end, 10 people were killed and hundreds traumatized.
Unfortunately, this could happen anywhere in the United States, in
front of any storefront. Schools already practice active-shooter drills, and
retailers might start doing the same with their employees considering
there have been at least five copycat store shootings in the weeks since this
event took place.
By 4 p.m., the general manager sent an email to the entire staff confirming that all employees were accounted for while some of them were still on
lockdown in the back of the store. At 7 p.m., he sent a compassionate email
announcing the store management was expecting to open Neptune the
next morning, but anyone scheduled to work who felt uncomfortable did
not have to come in but would be paid their normal rate.
Those who shopped that day offered sympathy; one even brought flowers. " While we wanted to be open to support those who were looking for the
healing of getting outside, we felt our customers were trying to support us, "
says Neptune Mountaineering co-owner Shelley Dunbar. " We were shaken
up by what could have happened to our staff, but hearing the gratitude and
relief from our customers that we all were okay was very moving. "
Not surprisingly, there wasn't much traffic in Neptune Mountaineering
the day after the shooting. By that afternoon, the GM sent another email out
to the staff with traumatic-event-recovery information and local counseling available, which was gathered by the owners and an employee-benefits
partner. And this was just the beginning of the coming together by and for
the community where this tragedy occurred.
The outpouring of support for Neptune was immediate and lasted over
a week as condolences poured in. The Arc'teryx sales rep, Josh Tedeschi,
sponsored a catered lunch for the store staff; Sweet Ruckus, a neighboring
boutique shop, brought in gifts; and Amy Long from Nothing Bundt Cakes,
a nearby bakery, delivered cupcakes for Neptune's staff. There were also a
number of handwritten cards from other members of the outdoor industry
expressing their sorrow to the staff. Some of them from out of town but written by people who had called South Boulder home and felt a connection to
those living and working there now. The team at Neptune is so grateful for
the support and hopes no one ever has to deal with this again.
A month later, the shooting doesn't get discussed much any more, but
it still weighs heavy on some employees' minds. O.R.
May 2021 / OUTDOOR RETAILER 37
Outdoor Retailer - May 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - May 2021
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