Firearm owners come from all walks of life and own a gun for many different reasons. Fear of crime is often a primary motivator for purchasing a firearm; however, a major goal of a gun dealer should be to help their customers realize a gun can be more than a self-defense tool. A firearm can be used in a fun hobby that creates a social outlet.
Once women become shooting enthusiasts, their guns also become a way to express their personal style. A storeowner in Northern California has built a successful business by understanding these motivations of women gun customers.
Sharon Mayfield of Gilmay Guns in Fresno, Calif., said her business has a thriving share of the self-defense market, and that the majority of women who come to her store buy a handgun or shotgun for self-protection.
“My staff is trained to help a woman find a gun that is comfortable for her,” Mayfield said. “We make women feel comfortable and don’t make them feel stupid for asking questions.”
Pistols in 9mm and .40 caliber account for most of the guns purchased by women at Gilmay Guns.
“We sell a lot of the Ruger LCRs, Smith & Wesson M&Ps and the small Kahr Arms pistols,” she said. “The Bersa Thunder .380 sells really well because it’s small, comfortable in the hand, has low recoil, it’s very reliable and it’s fun to shoot.”
Mayfield actively promotes women in the shooting sports by acting as safety instructor for a local women’s shooting group, Blush and Bullets. This group, founded to “Educate, Empower, Protect,” meets at the shooting range on a regular basis and is open to all experience levels.
Mayfield said she brings her personal guns for new shooters to use and others in the group to try.
She said being a part of Blush and Bullets has allowed her to reach more women and help teach them that the shooting sports are fun. Many women come because they are interested in self-protection, but end up having a lot of fun. She has also seen an increase in women hunters, including her 13-year-old granddaughter.
“It’s a fun sport,” she said. “It’s not really expensive like skiing, where you have to buy a lot of equipment and tickets every time you want to do it. You buy a gun and it lasts you a lifetime.”
Charter Arms’ Lavender Lady, in .38 Special +P, will appeal
to women looking to personalize their firearms.
Help Women Personalize Their Firearms
Mayfield points out that women love to accessorize their guns and it’s one of the services her store offers.
“Women like accessorizing with pink grips and stocks,” she said. “They like pink camo and other colors like purple. Women want to personalize their guns and we do that for them.”
Men are also aware that women prefer different firearms. Mayfield said she had a male customer who wanted to give his fiancé a personalized gun as a wedding gift. The gun was to match the bridesmaids’ dresses, so he brought Mayfield a swatch of fabric and she customized the gun for this very special occasion.
“If I could figure out how to put rhinestones on a gun, I’d do it and it would sell,” laughed Mayfield.
Knowing your customer is half the challenge when trying to build a successful business. Women like to personalize all elements of their lives, and guns and accessories are no exception. Even if you don’t offer in-store customizations, you can inventory or special-order guns with a unique look.
A pink or red gun in a gun case will send the message that women are welcome in your store. Stock a few T-shirts and hats with a bit of flair, and you’ll notice a positive response from your female customers.
Above all, treat women who come into your store as valued customers and give them the best customer service possible. The success Gilmay Guns has generated in reaching women is based on a combination of amazing customer service and providing valuable expertise to customers.
Pairing a colorful knife, such as the Kershaw Scallion, with
a pistol will attract your women customers.
A Colorful Combo
SIG SAUER is among a number of manufacturers that offer guns that give women a custom look straight out of the box. The P238 .380 ACP comes in a variety of styles that allow women to express their personal style. The P238 Lady sports a red Cerakote alloy beavertail-style frame, Nitron finished slide with scroll engraving with gold flower inlay and rosewood checkered grips.
Heads will surely turn at the range when your customer pulls out her P238 or P290 in 9mm, with eye-catching Rainbow Titanium finish. This series of compact guns are perfect for purse or on-the-body carry and their colorful finishes are sure to appeal to women who want their gun to stand out.
Consider creating a pistol and knife package by pairing the SIG pistols with one of Kershaw’s folding knives in a matching rainbow-colored titanium-oxide finish. The Kershaw Scallion and Leek come in a wide variety of colors including a durable, scratch-resistant coating. Both have Kershaw’s SpeedSafe assisted opening that allows for one-handed opening. For safety, the knives have a secure frame lock to keep them locked open during use, and a Tip-Lock for safe transport.
Once women have invested in a quality firearm, they need to keep it well-maintained. Otis recently put together a Tactical Pink cleaning system designed for women. This lightweight, versatile and neatly packaged cleaning system has everything a lady shooter needs to keep her guns firing.
The kit has brushes and patches to clean everything from rifles and pistols to shotguns and in-line muzzleloaders. Otis 085 Ultra Bore cleaning solvent provides all-in-one cleaner, lubricant and preservative. The lightweight black case has pink accents and sports a belt-loop for always-at-hand convenience.
By Lisa Parsons-Wraith
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