Being in the business, you know the recent surge in demand for personal-defense guns hasn’t been a result of just “old gunnies” looking to grab that last gun to complete their handgun collection while they still have a chance. Atrocities and politics alike have combined to create a new wave of first-time gun owners.
I recently received a call from a firearms instructor I trained in Tampa, Fla. He informed me of a one-man crime spree that occurred there, which consisted of multiple “takeover-style” armed robberies and four sexual assaults before the perpetrator was killed in a shootout with the police. Demand for defensive handgun training instantly soared in the surrounding region, he reported, with many of the potential students buying their first guns.
After the atrocity in Connecticut last December, gun permit applications have soared throughout the state. The effects of that evil event rippled outward, creating the surge in anti-gun legislation that triggered the record gun-buying frenzy, from which firearms retailers haven’t still entirely recovered. It also created the lengthy ammunition drought, from which we’re all still suffering.
Legislation triggers new waves of gun buyers in other ways. Consider the exploding interest in Illinois — now that this last holdout state has finally passed shall-issue concealed carry. Lots of folks who “made do” with a big hunting revolver or target-size autoloader for home-defense now have a definite need for one or more concealment guns to go with their expected new permit. I can introduce to you more than one Illinois gun buyer who only purchased their first firearm because concealed carry was finally about to become a reality for them (Editor’s Note: To read more on this subject, read Ayoob’s PDM column in the September 2013 issue).
Whatever the trigger (no pun intended), recent events have brought an unprecedented amount of first-time defensive handgun buyers into your shop. Now, let’s look at how to outfit them.
Salesman Jay Perry shows customer Tom Nelson a couple
of variants of CZ 9mm pistols at Galleson’s.
Offer Experience, Highlight Versatility
We’ve talked before in this column about the necessary gear for the concealed carrier. An important sales tip: Don’t wait for the customer to ask before you share your experience with him. Mention that we all have a “holster drawer” or giant “holster box” of scabbards we’ve tried, found inadequate and threw away.
Explain how you want to save your new customer an expensive reinventing of the wheel. Show how an IWB holster breaks up the outline of a full-sized police- or military-style pistol, and allows it to be carried discreetly even under an untucked shirt. Show how the OWB holster can be almost as concealable, but will be more comfortable since he bought his pants to fit him, not him and the pistol.
Your new concealed carry customer wants something smaller? Well, we all know smaller handguns are made exactly for this purpose. That’s why you have them in stock. Compliment him on the practicality of his choice — and be sure to mention one advantage is the broad array of carry options smaller guns bring with them.
Sales Tip: Versatility sells! One of these little guns can be hidden in a pocket, and the wearer’s hand can rest discreetly on it, allowing for a fast response. A Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver or a subcompact semiauto is perfect for ankle carry — discreet in the office and very fast when seated behind a desk or a steering wheel. And, of course, smaller guns are even more comfortable inside the waistband.
And just like that, you’ve added an ankle holster, a pocket holster and an IWB holster to the sale. More profit for you, more personal-defense versatility for the customer. It’s all good.
The same extended sales principle carries to the guns themselves. From traditional 1911s to the latest “drastic plastic” polymers, most makers offer product lines ranging from subcompacts, compacts, full-size — or service-size — handguns and even longslides. For generations, cops had a full-size service revolver for uniform wear and a small-frame .38 snub for off-duty, plainclothes and backup carry. During that time, armed citizens modeled cops by using a .38 snubbie to carry when out and about, and a longer-barreled specimen for the nightstand drawer.
Remind your customer of the practicality of staying with the same system, especially if he or she is new to handguns. The manner of operation is essentially the same between a baby Glock and bigger Glock, along with the compact S&W Shield and regular M&P and Springfield’s XD series — to name just three. Going up and down the size ladder in many of these lines, the smaller guns will use the larger gun’s magazines, assuming they’re the same caliber — even more versatility to sell.
Nelson checks a capacious holster selection for multiple scabbards
for his newest pistol. These are natural corollary sales.
Gallenson’s has been selling guns in Salt Lake City for a very long time, thanks
to well-trained sales staff who understand, among other things, the importance
of selling accessories.
Accessories Are Key
In addition to cleaning kits, ear-and -eye protection, holster(s) and ammo — all must-haves — other accessories merit mentioning. One thing to always remember with a new gun buyer, he’s made a serious decision to be armed and it’s fresh in his memory. He’s in the mood to learn. Take this customer on a quick tour of the relevant books and videos you offer for sale. These, in turn, will pique his interest to purchase cool, useful accessories to go with the gun — things you likely have right there to sell to him.
Continuing with the theme of versatility, a small semiauto with a light rail cries out for a small light or light-and-laser unit — or maybe just a laser sight. An extended magazine, perhaps with a grip sleeve, could be an add-on purchase. Your customer can’t shrink the big bedside handgun for easier deep concealment, but these items will allow him to turn the little gun into one with more cartridges, a white light source and a larger grip to make holding and shooting easier.
Many new shooters don’t know these options exist — most have heard of them but have never “tried them on.” In each case, sales are waiting to be made, all that’s required is for the buyer to be inspired.
You and your sales staff are the logical ones to provide that inspiration.
By Massad Ayoob
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