Don’t Sweat It.

Getting Customers In-Store
During Summer
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Know Your Market

Anthony Puglia owns Puglia’s Sporting Goods in Metairie, La. Due to his store’s proximity to New Orleans, it makes for strong self-defense sales.

“New Orleans has a lot of crime right now,” he said. “A lot of residents are coming in and buying everything from Mace to TASERs to handguns. It’s still mostly new clientele who have never owned a firearm before.”

During the summer, Puglia transforms his downstairs into a fishing store.

At the same time, certain categories on the shooting side start selling well. One of those categories is pocketknives. Customers purchase them for gifts for weddings, graduations and Father’s Day.

“We restock all the knives we carry throughout the year,” Puglia noted. “I carry even more knives in the summer than I do in the fall.”

One of the ways Puglia promotes knives in the summer is through Facebook. Although he doesn’t use Facebook personally, he finds it a very effective advertising tool for his establishment.

“It’s instant gratification,” he said. “We post things every day just to keep our customers interested. We capture a market outside of our own territory by hiring influencers to share our pages. We have people who are involved in our industry and who are well known, who use their platforms to advertise for us.”

Doing this has given the store national reach, according to Puglia. Within hours of posting something about a product, his store may be shipping it anywhere in the country.

Another summertime category is thermal and night vision scopes for hog hunters.

“We stock up on this category for the summer,” Puglia said. “Once deer and turkey seasons are over, it’s about the only thing left for hunters to do.”

Sales Events Bring People In

Bill Roney has owned The Outdoorsman of Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M. for 47 years. His father was the director of sales for Remington, and Roney himself was the assistant to the director of international sales at Remington.

During the summer, Roney shared target shooting takes on more importance in his business than it does at other times of the year.

“People are out shooting targets, and they’re shooting in matches,” he observed. “Because of this, .22s are going to be popular for families with kids, and shotguns are more popular than at other times. A lot of competitors are shooting modern sporting rifles.”

To prepare for the summer selling season, Roney adjusts his inventory to meet anticipated need. Especially in today’s retail environment, this means planning far ahead and placing orders so he gets what he needs in time for the season.

Because his sales are mostly brick-and-mortar rather than online, Roney holds in-store events to get customers through the door.
“We do a lot of in-store promotions,” he said. “We also post specials on our website.”

Another big category for Roney, especially in the summer, is vintage and antique firearms.

“Santa Fe is a destination town,” he noted. “When people come here on vacation, it’s one of the things they come in and ask — whether we have firearms with a story.”

Obviously, maintaining an inventory of vintage and antique firearms isn’t as easy as ordering from a distributor.

“We’re always interested in trying to obtain these kinds of firearms,” Roney said. “Whether it’s estate sales or other possibilities, we’re always looking.”

Use Classes To Compete With Mother Nature

Paul Bastean is managing director at Ultimate Defense in St. Peters, Mo. Bastean said the categories that sell well during the summer aren’t different from the ones selling well all year. According to Bastean, the culture of the store is very much centered around their mission statement, which is: “The knowledge, tools and experience to protect yourself and the people you care about.”

“We have a lot of people who are going boating, taking vacations, doing lawn work, gardening … there are a lot of outdoor activities they can be doing other than shooting on an indoor range. So, we compete with Mother Nature in the summer.”

Paul Bastean, Managing Director Ultimate Defense St. Peters, Mo.

“As a result, we don’t do a lot of hunting stuff,” Bastean confirmed. “We don’t do a lot of sports shooting stuff. What we do is primarily about self-defense, so our business is a little different from stores that try to cover as many different genres as possible. We pretty much specialize in this one area.”

As a result, the store sells handguns, home-defense shotguns and other similar products all year long. The volume of their sales, however, changes a good bit during the summer.

“At this point, we’re competing with soccer games, baseball tournaments and the lake,” he said. “On the weekends, a lot of people will decide to go to Lake of the Ozarks. We also have the Missouri River and the Mississippi River, so we have a lot of people who are going boating, taking vacations, doing lawn work, gardening … there are a lot of outdoor activities they can be doing other than shooting on an indoor range.

With events like weddings and Father’s Day on the summer calendar, Anthony Puglia maintains
a robust supply of pocketknives and markets them as add-on gifts. Silver Stag, ZT, Gerber and
Kershaw are among his best-selling brands.

So, we compete with Mother Nature in the summer, whereas in the winter people get in their cars and drive to the range. It’s the kind of competition we have in the summer.”

Therefore, Bastean focuses on bringing in more of his normal business during the summer months — which means giving customers a reason to come into the store.

To prepare for the summer selling season, Roney adjusts his inventory to meet anticipated need. Especially in today’s retail environment, this means planning far ahead and placing orders so he gets what he needs in time for the season.

“When people get up in the morning and head for work, they grab some coffee or if they’re hungry they get breakfast,” Bastean noted. “Most people don’t get up in the morning and just decide, ‘I’m in the mood to buy a gun today.’”

Buying a gun is not a spontaneous purchase, he added; it’s something the purchaser plans and researches before he or she buys it.

Capitalizing on what’s trending in its urban market, Ultimate Defense promotes a “How To
Survive A Carjacking” class to great effect during the summer months.

“Most people don’t get up in the morning and just decide, ‘I’m in the mood to buy a gun
today,” observed Paul Bastean of Ultimate Defense. As such, he recognizes a lot of thought
goes into a customer’s decision to visit his store for a firearms purchase.

“There’s a lot of forethought that goes into buying a gun,” Bastean said. “Even once they decide what they want, they’re still hesitant to make the purchase.”

A profitable revenue stream of Ultimate Defense is its curated classes — which help boost summertime sales.

“Here in the St. Louis area, we lead the nation in carjackings,” Bastean informed. “When you look at our Facebook page and our Instagram page, you’ll see something on how to survive a carjacking. When people see it, they realize they need the course. We emphasize this is the reason you need training, and during the summer we play it up harder than we do the rest of the year.”

When it comes to summertime inventory management, what Bastean does now is different from what he was able to do three years ago.

“In the real world, before COVID and before Ukraine, we were able to do some inventory management,” he said, “but for the last two years, it’s been all about ‘get what you can, when you can.’ Selling product is not the problem; acquiring product is the problem.”

Inventory management today is almost impossible, Bastean added.

“You don’t have a lot of options,” he said. “It’s not a matter of what you want in your store. When you order something today, it may be six months to a year before you can get it. It really is get what you can when you can.”

Click To Read More Shooting Industry May 2022 Issue Now!