Sincerity is an important part of serving female customers well. Every woman can relate stories of how the guy at the garage tried to get her to pay for a service her car didn’t need. Many women have equal stories of gun shops trying to sell them a gun they didn’t want. Preying on inexperience and upselling gives a store a bad reputation — but sincerely explaining why you are making a recommendation in a non-condescending manner creates a loyal customer base.
According to Wade Duty, co-owner of Precision Firearms & Indoor Range in Baton Rouge, La., women are an important part of the shooting industry.
“Retailers need to aggressively pursue the women’s market,” Duty said.
His ideal customer is a young, professional, single woman.
“They have their own income, they see gun ownership as a personal safety issue, and they don’t mind spending money if you are sincere in your recommendations,” Duty said. “You have to take the time to listen. In return, you get fiercely loyal customers.”
Most of the women who come to Precision Firearms are interested in personal-defense guns.
“You’ve got to spend time with a customer and determine her goals,” Duty said. “The Smith & Wesson J-Frame .38 revolver is the first one guys try to sell women, but it’s often the wrong gun for a new shooter, with its heavy trigger pull and recoil.”
Duty encourages women to purchase a .22 rimfire semiauto or revolver as a training gun. He uses an analogy: Just as most people don’t learn to drive on a high-performance car like a Ferrari, most people shouldn’t learn the fundamentals of shooting using a higher-caliber semiauto.
Rimfire .22s are easy to shoot, have less felt recoil and the ammo is much cheaper, according to Duty.
“Once you educate women (about the benefits of rimfires) and they perceive that your staff is sincere, then it makes sense. I recommend they stay with the .22 until it gets boring, and then move up,” Duty said.
The idea of a rimfire for training and a more serious-caliber gun for personal-defense makes a lot of sense. Duty said his store stocks a range of firearms in the same family that have a similar operation. For example, the Walther P22 is similar to the PPK .380 and PPS 9mm in operation.
“Walther’s modular system is a normal progression from training to self-defense,” he said.
Another firearm family Duty recommends is the Ruger LCR .38 Special and .22 caliber.
“Smith & Wesson also does the same thing in its revolvers — .22, .38, .357,” he continued. “Kimber offers a .22 conversion unit for use on its centerfire frames to include 9mm/.45. The shooter can train with the conversion unit, and then have the same trigger pull and frame when they switch back to a centerfire caliber.”
By Lisa Parson-Wraith
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