Where Are We Headed In 2022?

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There are many words we could use to describe the past two years — unprecedented, relentless, eye-opening, stretching, tumultuous, frustrating, to name a few. But here, let’s focus on another: opportunity.

Yes, I know this may sound trite in the midst of the numerous troubling circumstances our industry currently faces, but there’s no denying we’ve been presented with a once-in-a-generation chance to impact an entirely new group of sportsmen and women.

Since early 2020, storefront dealers across the country have welcomed millions of customers — with a significant number of whom being racially or politically diverse, previously anti-gun or lapsed enthusiasts — into their stores and ranges. With the millions of first-time gun owners clamoring for product and knowledge, class curriculum has changed, checkout processes have been enhanced and store offerings have been refined. In the subsequent supply-chain challenges and shortages, dealers had to put their resourcefulness to the test to get even the most basic items, enforce buying limits and adjust hours to give staff a reprieve.

Overcoming these challenges is further bolstering resilience and innovation. And, bottom line, our industry is poised to capitalize on this renewed interest and engage new or reactivated gun owners and hunters in the new year. The storefront dealer will serve as the boots-on-the-ground presence to welcome these customers — providing, once again, the backbone of the industry’s outreach efforts.

As we prepare to launch into the new year, Shooting Industry is endeavoring to make 2022 “The Year of Customer Retainment.” You can expect a number of articles with tips for reactivating lapsed shooters, welcoming the first-time gun buyers of 2020 and 2021 for follow-up visits and rising above the marketing noise to secure additional sales. In 2022, we’ll also examine community-building to help offset diminished inventory options.

“The storefront dealer will serve as the boots-on-the-ground presence to welcome these customers — providing, once again, the backbone of the industry’s outreach efforts.”

The Welcome Return Of Handshakes

As noted in this month’s lead Industry News story on pages 10 and 12, 1,200 industry professionals attended the 2021 NASGW Expo in Columbus, Ohio. For many (myself included) the Expo represented the first in-person trade event since SHOT Show 2020 — some 21 months earlier.

Seeing familiar faces and being able to shake hands once again was a significant moment in the quest for a post-pandemic “new normal.” So, too, was being able to witness the camaraderie on display throughout the Expo. In dozens of conversations with exhibitors and wholesalers, folks would often mention it seemed as though no time had passed getting back together again for in-person business.

NASGW President Kenyon Gleason revealed an anecdote illustrating just how meaningful an in-person event like the Expo is in its ability to foster relationships.

“I can’t tell you many people came up to me and shared how much this event meant to them, saying, ‘Having this opportunity to meet in person again was marvelous. Yes, we got a lot of business done, but more importantly I got to see old colleagues, competitors and friends,’” he recalled.

Though not without its challenges — the supply-chain disruptions are very real, with many manufacturers reporting increased difficulty procuring raw materials to produce product — our industry is a special one. We’ve gone through a lot in the past two years, but there’s something to be said about pushing through, together, while also enabling millions of customers to exercise their Second Amendment right.

Here’s to pressing on and fighting the good fight in 2022.

MGE’s Ad Campaign Stands Out

It’s not often we highlight an advertiser’s marketing campaign, but MGE Wholesale’s recent ads in the Sept. 2021 and Oct. 2021 issues merit a special mention. Putting the spotlight firmly on its sales team, these ads emphasized MGE’s role as a partner to grow businesses.

With the tagline “The only thing better than a great bottle of bourbon … is a great sales team here to help your business grow!” the MGE marketing team found a creative way to connect with dealers — and clearly had some fun doing it. Brad Foster, MGE Wholesale president, shared the inspiration behind this campaign.

“The reason we’re including pictures of our sales staff is twofold: One, we feel, so often in our industry it’s computers talking to computers and UPCs are what’s driving the business and price. We think it’s important to go back to some personal touch,” he said. “The second part of this: people have been cooped up during COVID, so we wanted to put a face with these names and as we try to come back seeing people.”

The inclusion of a fine bottle of bourbon in the ad ties into MGE Wholesale’s aim of being a more personable and sophisticated business partner. Kudos to the MGE team for the spirit behind this new campaign!

/ mgewholesale.com

Dealers, what’s your outlook for the 2022 new business year? How can Shooting Industry be a better business partner?
Send me a note directly: [email protected].

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