For Everyday Carry Gear
By Mark Kakkuri
The idea of “everyday carry”
— literally, the category of life including things you or your customers carry on your person, every day — has exploded over the past few years. A quick trip around the Interwebs will demonstrate a proliferation of sites dedicated to discussing and debating not only gear but also how to carry it. You’ll find out about gear you’ve never heard of, innovations of gear you thought had no innovation left to give and, of course, the hacks.
You know, the clever customizations you can do to/with your gear to make it even more useful. Ironically, despite all the chatter about simplifying and making things lighter, we seem to be carrying more than ever.
Picture if you will the stereotypical stuff a man puts on top of his dresser after a day of work: There’s usually a wallet, mobile device, set of keys and a pocket knife. There’s also a gun (and a holster), a reload and maybe a flashlight, too. Add a pen and a watch and that’s 10 items. And we haven’t even included a multi-tool, the ubiquitous black notebook, laptop or tablet and any papers or business materials. So it’s not surprising there are so many briefcases, messenger bags and other means to carry it all in. We’re running out of pockets! But women use similar gear, as well. Thankfully, much of it can be carried in a purse or bag of some kind — and there are a number of manufacturers in this category providing women-specific products.
Do Your Research
While you’re online learning about all the latest trends in everyday carry, remember your customers are doing the same. As such, make sure your store website is up to today’s standards: It should be responsive, mobile-friendly and updated with the products you carry. (Shooting Industry has profiled trusted companies providing these services).
Joshua Claflin, firearms and outdoor marketing strategist with the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based firm Garrison Everest, says, “According to several consumer studies, prospective buyers will complete over 70 percent of the sales process online before making the decision to buy — or in this case, visit a dealer. By taking a more strategic approach to your website, and meeting those buyers where they are in the buyer’s journey, you can speed up the sales cycle — hence profits.”
Keep in mind, the online sales process includes your customer’s awareness and use of everything from your website to your social media platforms. Gina Wolfe, retail store manager at Lake Orion, Mich.-based Michigan Shooting Centers, says her store gets the best results from using Facebook and Instagram to send out regular reminders about gun-and-gear specials, events and (because the store has an outdoor range and skeet/trap/sporting clays facilities) the weather. “The only thing that doesn’t work is not advertising or using these channels at all,” she relayed.
As far as the actual everyday carry gear — the tools used to get through life and sometimes to save life — what you carry in your store depends on several factors, including your location and who your customers are. If you’re going to carry everyday gear, here are five tips on how to capitalize on the trend and get shoppers to buy their gear from you.
1: Don’t just offer more gear for sale — stock the highest-quality items most popular with your customers.
As you know, customers today are well researched and selective. They’re not going to be duped by gimmicky products. As such, you don’t do anyone any favors by offering aisles upon aisles of trinkets and trash. Instead, find out what pieces of everyday carry gear make your customers’ top five list and offer those. Ask your local law enforcement officers what they carry. Email your customers and ask them. Run a poll on your website or social media platforms.
According to Wolfe, currently the best-selling accessory items are extra magazines and ammo. “Normally we’ll suggest to our gun-buying customers they purchase an additional factory-new magazine if we have it in stock,” she says. And, during the gun/magazine sales process, Wolfe and the store staff also offer high-quality, self-defense ammo from most of the major manufacturers.
2: Instead of carrying one brand or one type of equipment, provide a high-end and a lower-end option.
Personal flashlights, for example, can run the gamut of quality but generally it is fairly easy to find a cheap, aluminum-bodied LED flashlight with a crenulated bezel — something you can use not only to light something up but also to use in self-defense. Instead of picking the middle-of-the road light, offer a higher-end solution of known quality and a few more features, and be able to explain these benefits to your customers. But also supply an entry-level solution — sort of the cheap, throwaway keychain light that proves eminently useful for mundane lighting tasks but one no one will miss if lost. While you may be tempted to offer several models, bear in mind it may be better to keep the options simple. Moreover, your customer has probably already done her research on what she wants.
3: Present options in more than one category, have gear representative of a system solution.
Gun stores, for example, should offer more than guns and holsters. They should also have a selection of excellent knives, tactical pens or other self-defense tools — whatever gear a self-defense minded customer might need or want to round out his or her options. You’ve heard the phrase, “When you’re a hammer, everything’s a nail.” Sometimes dealers can be a bit myopic in their offerings. It’s noble to want to focus on one category of gear only, to be excellent in that category. It’s just not going to serve customers very well. In the shooting sports, self-defense and everyday carry, customers are generally looking for solutions for multiple problems in life. Not every self-defense situation requires the use of a gun.
More importantly, your store should be known for responding to customer needs. If they’re asking for something you’re not offering, find a way to meet their need. Even better, educate customers not only on your range of gear offerings but the strengths of each and how they contribute to a total solution.
Gun Tote’n Mamas Paisley Rolling Range Bag
4: Provide “secondary solutions” in addition to those fitting a basic need.
Tactical pens, for example, are writing instruments — probably the most basic tool of our day and age. In a bad situation they can become a formidable defensive weapon. But it’s still a pen. You’ve seen wallets redesigned as personal survival tools — the metal frame carrying your credit cards also has well-designed slots and edges designed to function as a wrench, a cutting device and a bottle opener.
5: Offer training on how to use the gear you’re stocking — and share your personal experience to go along with it.
You can conduct formal training classes or informal sessions right in the store. In fact, offering a training event in store, free of charge, by a local law enforcement officer can do more marketing good than a thousand flyers and another sale. Why? Because the customers will see you as more than a store selling a product. They’ll see you as a resource for their own good, a place where they can learn something eminently useful. Additionally, this will enhance perceived value.
Moreover, says, Wolfe, customers are more inclined to buy additional items if the store staff can bring a level of personal experience to the sale. “It is very important to share what we have used and what we know works, and why. Customers seem to like that,” she says.
According to Claflin, “Dealers need to map out from start to finish the tactics and incentives (upsells, ammunition, accessories and training) to be more effective in increasing sales.” This means thinking through the process of purchasing everyday carry gear like a customer would think and documenting each step of the journey and evaluating it objectively. Get your staff involved in the process and be prepared to listen to them and learn. Poll your customers often to see what they’re thinking, what they’re looking for and what online resources they often turn to. In short, make it a marketing goal to be an everyday resource to those who are shopping for everyday carry gear.