Gun Boutique Zeroes In On Women’s Shooting Needs
Imagine a gun store designed to cater to women. Instead of being tucked away in the small corner of a store, products for women would be front and center — with the less colorful “tactical” gear relegated to the background. It’s a place where women don’t have to hunt for products sized to fit them, but where every product is stocked with women’s wants and needs taken into consideration. Does this sound like an unlikely utopian vision? One bold gun dealer in Conway, S.C., has created a unique and women-friendly gun shop.
A Shooting Affair was born of “frustration and desperation,” according to its founder, Lori Lilley. In 2007 her husband, a former police officer, went to Iraq as a contractor and Lilley recognized she had relied on him for her personal safety needs. Lilley said once he was gone, “I was afraid of my own shadow and I realized it was time for me to be able to protect myself.” She took a concealed weapons class, received her CWP and went shopping for accessories.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything I liked,” Lilley said. “I felt my gun should be a fashion statement, even if it is concealed. When I ventured out to the local gun stores I was very intimidated by dealers telling me what I needed. Everything in the stores was geared toward men.”
Feeling frustrated, Lilley did some online research, discovered the women’s shooting market was growing rapidly, and found there was a need for a gun store tailored to women. “I don’t feel I am that different from other women, so they must want pretty accessories also,” she said. “I started my market research and applied for a retail license and the rest is history.”
Lilley set out to create an atmosphere where women would feel comfortable shopping and asking questions. “My store stands out because it doesn’t look like a typical gun store — it’s set up more like a boutique. The atmosphere is relaxing and not intimidating to women,” Lilley noted.
Lilley’s husband, Jim, helps manage A Shooting Affair and provides valuable input on women’s self-protection requirements. His presence can also be somewhat reassuring to the men who wander into the store. “They smirk a little and say they’ve never seen a gun store like this before, but they buy, too,” he said. Lilley agreed.
“A lot of guys come in and are not intimidated by all the pink in the windows,” she said. “We have a few loyal male customers who come in shopping for themselves to buy holsters, handguns and knives.”
Both Lilley’s admit it’s fun to see the men’s reaction to the store when they realize the tables are turned and most of the merchandise is geared toward women.
Femme Fatale Handbags offer colorful,
genuine leather purses and matching holsters.
Holsters And Handbags Make Great Add-Ons
The philosophy at A Shooting Affair is they are in the business of helping people. “It’s more of a passion for me — I’m trying to help people,” Lilley said. “I love talking to customers. They feel comfortable in our store and they like the atmosphere. We take the time to talk about a product and help people with their problems.”
As a result, A Shooting Affair has built up a loyal clientele that often refers others to the store. “Word of mouth has helped our business tremendously,” Lilley said.
When it comes to selling firearms, A Shooting Affair focuses on smaller firearms that are light and easy to conceal. The Taurus TCP 380, the Ruger LCP 380 and the S&W BODYGUARD are popular models.
Holsters and handbags are the top sellers at A Shooting Affair. “Gun Tote’n Mamas purse holsters sell the best,” Lilley said. “You get a lot of bang for your buck because they are high quality and reasonably priced.”
Femme Fatale Handbags is a new company that is also beginning to sell well for Lilley. Femme Fatale’s genuine leather bags feature two access points to the firearm compartment, lockable zippers, matching leather holsters, a titanium metal cable in the handle to prevent theft and plenty of room for the usual items found in a purse. There are currently two models of handbags available in appealing colors to fashionable women.
When it comes to holsters, A Shooting Affair stocks a wide range of products from Flashbang. One of the more popular models from Flashbang is the Ava holster, which is a leather and thermoplastic hybrid, made to be worn inside the waistband. This holster works well for women because the super strong, adjustable clips can be raised or lowered to create a total of nine different cant/depth combinations, making it totally customizable. KNJ nylon pocket holsters in animal prints are also very big sellers, noted Lilley.
Non-lethal defense options, like the Brutus keychain,
serve as easy add-ons to a personal-defense sale.
Fashionable, Reasonably Priced
Colorful guns and accessories are a huge part of the merchandise sold at A Shooting Affair. Lilley said she tries to support small companies making shooting products for women.
“Women are very price conscious, and I’m always looking for products that are fashionable and reasonably priced,” she said.
Non-lethal defense options are also available at A Shooting Affair. “We sell home-defense items like door alarms and small fireproof pouches as well as personal-defense items like tasers, pepper spray and the Brutus keychain,” Lilley said.
Lilley also stocks fun gift items like gun-themed jewelry and clothing so women and men always have something to shop for even if they aren’t in the market for a new firearm.
Colorful products for women shooters are a fast growing market in the shooting industry. Consider upping the profile of reasonably priced, quality women’s products in you store, and you may be pleasantly surprised at the increase in your bottom line.
By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
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