Gift cards have turned post-holiday shopping into the busiest time of year for many firearm retailers. Stores do a brisk business in gift cards because many men want to get their significant others into the shooting sports, but they’ve learned guns are like shoes — they need to be “tried on” to make sure they are the right fit. Savvy dealers looking to broaden their women customer base can seize the moment and increase their offering of women-friendly products during this crucial retail period.
Doug Clayton, owner of Bulls Eye Marksman Gun Club And Indoor Range in Cumming, Ga., has seen the impact of gift cards on business.
“During the holidays there is an absolute run on gift cards — most of them with large dollar amounts able to be used to purchase a membership, a gun or a class,” he said.
Naturally, most of the gift cards are cashed in during the early part of the year, so dealers need to prepare for this by increasing their class offerings and ensuring their staff is up-to-date on member benefits.
Purse holsters are another item Clayton said he expects to sell a lot of through the beginning of the year.
“Women have no problem spending a couple hundred dollars on a purse,” he explained.
Galco purses are popular, but they are more of a special order item, rather than something that Bulls Eye Marksman maintains in stock. Other accessories that sell well include ear-and-eye protection from both Howard Leight and Silencio.
These revolvers from Charter Arms are best sellers at JW Firearms.
Add Color To Your Cache
Women who buy and shoot at Bulls Eye Marksman are a mix of personal-defense and sports-minded customers. The store has an active group of women shooters from A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League, and their events help bring in a wide variety of female shooters.
“Smaller handguns like the Walther PK380 and the P22 are very popular,” Clayton said. The pink versions of those guns are in demand also, he noted.
“Women really like the stainless steel guns. You can see the cuts — they’re just more stylish.” Clayton also stocks lower-recoil ammunition because women have requested it.
Bulls Eye Marksman does a brisk business in MSRs and they are popular in colors as well.
JW Firearms in Barnhart, Mo., also hosts A Girl and A Gun Shooting League events and has seen increased sales as a result.
“We had an ‘Intro To Rifle’ event where the women got to try four different rifles,” said Ava Wooldridge, operations manager, “At the end, we let them shoot a MSR. One woman came back to the store and bought one right after.”
Basic guns are the bread and butter at JW firearms, but colorful guns are also sought after and should be top sellers in 2014.
“We’ve sold pink and purple guns. We sold a ton of Charter Arms .38 Special Lavender Lady. Purple guns are the best sellers,” Wooldridge said. “Most of the women buying colored guns and accessories are new shooters.”
Color-tinted guns are “flying off the shelves” according to Sissy Holstein of Shooter’s Station in Conroe, Texas, and she expects this trend to continue into the new year. Holstein claims over the last year and a half, the number of women shopping and using the range at Shooter’s Station has markedly increased.
“More single women are purchasing guns for home-protection,” she noted.
A large number of the guns purchased are pink. Pink is so popular, Holstein said, that if the gun doesn’t come in pink, Shooter’s Station’s gunsmith will give the gun a custom pink finish. Many women round out their firearm purchase with a purse holster from Roma Leather or Galco.
Investing in colorful guns is a way to reach out to women. All of the gun stores mentioned stock some type of color-tinted firearm because they are popular with some — but not all — women. More and more manufacturers are offering everything from purse holsters and gun cases, to ear-and-eye protection in a variety of female-friendly colors and patterns. Stock up on these colorful items in the New Year and reap the benefits of holiday gift card redemptions in your store.
Help Customers Use Last Dollars Wisely
If your customer is looking to spend her last few gift card dollars on helpful accessories, there are a couple of unique options available.
A new tool in the battle against recoil is the EvoShield Recoil Shield — a custom-molding recoil pad that works in conjunction with the EvoShield Shirt and is designed to reduce felt recoil by 90 percent. What makes this recoil pad unique is its custom-molding feature.
Women customers who have struggled with flinching — or are tired of being bruised from a day of long-gun shooting — will love this product because it actually disperses impact instead of absorbing it. Also, because the pad is molded to fit a specific gun, accuracy is improved as the gun is set in a specific place every time.
The T-shirt worn under the Shield must be tight-fitting for this recoil pad to work properly, so advise your customers to buy one that is very snug. The EvoShield shirt is made of a performance green or camo fabric to keep ladies cool, dry and comfortable.
Another notable add-on purchase option is the new 12-gauge Camo ShotShell Thermo Bottle in Mossy Oak from Visual Promotions. This fun, outdoor-themed insulated bottle will keep beverages hot or cold for up to 24 hours. Designed to hold 25 ounces of liquid, the bottle is stainless steel and sports a one-touch stopper and wide base. Available in four different camo patterns, this is a great gift or add-on sale for any lady hunter.
By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
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