When The First-Time
Gun Buyer Returns


Having a “holster wardrobe” isn’t as laborious as first-time customers may think. Alien Gear’s
ShapeShift Modular Holster System quickly transforms into IWB, appendix, OWB belt slide and
OWB paddle holster options — giving customers added versatility. (Photo: Alien Gear Holsters)

For going on two years now, we’ve been seeing a lot more first-time buyers in gun shops. How many of them will become return customers?

Some will come back only once … in hope you’ll buy back the gun you sold them they were ashamed of getting in the first place because it diverged from their political identity.

Some will never come back at all. The gun-shop customer who purchases a firearm and a box of ammo and never uses either (except perhaps once as a test) has been with us for as long as there have been gun dealers.

But some — many, I hope — will appreciate the security of knowing they can fight off an attack on their home or their person in a world where the average police response time is often quoted as 11 minutes (sometimes longer) and they have to survive the attack before they can dial 911 in the first place.

Let’s talk about strategies that allow you to best serve the latter group.

The Wardrobe Factor

None of us wears the same clothes for every occasion every season of the year. Any experienced owner of defensive handguns similarly understands the rationale of a “wardrobe” of both firearms and holsters. The new handgun owner merely needs to be awakened to the concept.

Gun Wardrobes: The full-size GLOCK 17 or equivalent the first-timer may have bought is going to look and feel awfully big to him as he assays expanding from a home-defense gun to a pistol to be carried concealed in public. Remember when you were a little kid and got your first wallet or purse? Didn’t you feel kind of like a big wallet or purse with a small person attached to it? It’s the same for most people when they carry a handgun for the first time.

When this particular customer starts to realize his greater safety from violent crime afforded by his home-defense handgun could expand into similarly greater safety in public with a concealed carry pistol, he’s a natural candidate for a subcompact GLOCK 26, a slimline GLOCK 48 or a micro-size GLOCK 43. And, naturally, a similar progression exists in other firearms lines: a full-size S&W M&P for home defense supplemented with a compact variation of the same model, or perhaps the still more concealable M&P Shield.

In each case, the deal is sweetened by the fact the customer already has ammunition for this new “supplemental” gun, and in the case of some combinations such as the GLOCK 17/26, may already have magazines to fit the latest addition to his nascent armory.

Holster Wardrobes: Not every customer is ready to buy a wardrobe of guns for summer and winter, casual concealed carry and “non-permissive environments.” A holster wardrobe is a lot less expensive to acquire. The new owner of a sub-compact auto or snub-nosed revolver is likely to appreciate a pocket holster, a belly band for carry under a tucked-in shirt or blouse or even an ankle holster … once he or she is aware of their advantages and even their existence, and their availability at your gun shop!

I’ve always traveled with an IWB and OWB holster to accommodate different concealment needs on the trip. (For that matter, I’ve had enough hand and arm injuries I also include a non-dominant-side holster and lately, due to sciatica, an “orthopedic” shoulder holster.) We have more comfortable, concealable holster designs available today than ever in history.

“We have more comfortable, concealable holster designs available today than ever in history.”

Infantry/Artillery: Remind your customers of something I’ve shared with my students for decades: the “infantry/artillery” concept of home defense. The long gun is “artillery,” not just more powerful but employed from a static location into an already-plotted quadrant of fire.

If I’ve gathered spouse and kids in the safe room and home invaders are kicking down the door, I want the faster target-to-target engagement and greater “stopping power” of a shotgun, an autoloading .223 or even a pistol-caliber carbine. But if I have to go on the move — scoop the baby out of the nursery, or talk to 911 with one hand and cover a doorway with a gun in the other hand — it’s a job much better performed with a handgun, as the late Justice Scalia flatly said in Heller v. District of Columbia.

Remind the student who bought one type of defensive firearm of the value of having the other type, because none of us knows beforehand exactly what kind of life-threatening emergency we’ll face. Versatility and adaptability are good.

Bringing Them Back

We all grew up being told, “If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” Many of us learned the hard way this was only half of the formula: We also have to let the world know we have the better mousetrap, and give them directions to our door.

The mailing list is only as far away as your 4473 files. You can put together a mailing that does a lot of good things at once:

“We have to remember they’re new to this. They don’t know what you know, and someone needs to tell them.”

• Let those customers know you have smaller (or larger) versions of their chosen guns available for them to consider.

• Let them know the broad array of holsters you have in stock, including for the handguns they’ve already bought from you, that allow comfortable, discreet carry and fast access.

• Let them know where to access your website for more powerful “artillery” — shotguns and carbines — you now have in stock, and on the flip side, let them know what you have in stock for “infantry” as discussed above.

• With ammo now becoming more readily available and coming down in price, let them know while birdshot was all you had in stock when they bought their shotgun, you now have the more effective buckshot for sale. If FMJ was the only ammo you had in stock when they bought their first handgun, let them know you now have hollowpoints available. Not only are they more effective for “stopping,” but they’re also less likely to over-penetrate and endanger family members in a home-defense situation or innocent bystanders in a street self-defense incident.

We have to remember they’re new to this. They don’t know what you know, and someone needs to tell them. You were the trusted source of their first defensive firearm and their first box of ammunition.

Now, you’re the logical source for the knowledge that will allow them to upgrade their newfound defensive capability. Your letting them know of this availability is absolutely consistent with what the business world calls “ethical marketing.”

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