Foot Locker has seceded from New York businessman Fernando Mateo's Goods-for-Guns program, planning instead to take its own Shoes-for-Guns program national.
Mr. Mateo burst onto the scene in New York in December with what was then called Toys-for-Guns. The carpet store owner's offer of $100 for people who turned in guns resulted in removal of 3,000 firearms from New York City streets between Dec. 22 and mid-January, but in recent weeks, support has waned and the program's profile has dropped.
"This is an opportunity as a retailer to create a program that could affect the lives of our customers. As a result, we decided to move forward quickly," said Foot Locker VP-Marketing Jerry Canning.
"It was simplest just to go ahead," Mr. Canning said, referring to the Goods-for-Guns timetable, which called for expansion into every New York City borough before moving national. Foot Locker wanted to move faster in taking a program national, he said.
The sports shoe and apparel retailer is eyeing Los Angeles as the sixth city for its version of the program, already under way in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia. Those who turn in guns to designated police precincts get a gift certificate worth $75 to $100 for athletic shoes or apparel sold at Foot Locker. No paid advertising is used to publicize the program, which relies on local media coverage to spread the word.
To date, Foot Locker has committed a total of $560,000: $100,000 for each of the five cities where Shoes-for-Guns is already in place and $60,000 for Goods-for-Guns in New York City.
Mr. Mateo acknowledged the Goods-for-Guns program is at a standstill because of a "lack of resources," specifically the failure of sponsors such as Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby Shops, Dial-A-Mattress and Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. to donate additional money.
Reebok International initially expressed an interest, but the marketer later said it would rather maintain a focus on human-service-oriented charities.
Mr. Mateo was critical of Foot Locker, saying the company "has taken this program and used it as a marketing tool. This is not a marketing thing, this is a social issue."
Foot Locker's Mr. Canning denied the retailer is using the program as a marketing tool, saying "that had nothing to do with our decision."
Mr. Mateo said Foot Locker pulled support from Goods-for-Guns because, as its largest contributor, Foot Locker wanted to be the sole sponsor.
But Mr. Canning said: "People may look at us cynically, but this program speaks for itself."