By Jade Moldae
SHOT Show 2020 delivered a much-needed (and timely) injection of enthusiasm for the industry. With 2019 closing on a high note — Black Friday NICS checks represented the second-highest single-day total on record, while December’s robust background checks ensured the year closed out 0.6% ahead of 2018 — a strong SHOT Show would lend further credence to signs of a broader industry recovery. And, by many accounts, it succeeded.
Sure, challenges remain in the wake of AcuSport and United Sporting Co.’s bankruptcies in the past couple years, but companies and organizations are endeavoring to pick up market share and better serve customers. Announced during SHOT Show week, NASGW’s acquisition of CustomerLink Exchange (CLX) — originally developed for AcuSport — is one such endeavor.
During meetings with exhibitors, I heard a couple key phrases — “we’re having better quality conversations with attendees” and “if this show is anything to go by, we’re going to have a good year.”
Dealers Weigh In
Energized sentiment from exhibitors was infectious, and dealers detected a positive vibe during the show, as well.
“The SHOT Show had great energy and excitement this year, with business trends strengthening along with a surge in new product announcements. It’s always great to get your hands on these and to be able to talk directly with those most ‘in the know’ of how these new products come to market,” said Richard Sprague, president of Yuma, Ariz.-based Sprague’s Sports. “The Pop-Up Preview on Level 5 during the second day of the show was a great opportunity to see brand-new vendors, products and service offerings. Next year’s show will be even more exciting with the opening of the Caesars Forum.”
New product introductions also caught the attention of Seth Dortch, Final Flight Outfitters (Union City, Tenn.) marketing manager.
“What stood out to me most about SHOT 2020 is there was a greater importance being placed on making standout products rather than releasing product to just have something new,” he shared. “I had countless conversations with brand representatives who talked more about making current product even better — rather than talking about something new created just for the sake of having something new.”
“SHOT Show reflected the industry as a
whole is in a great place right now.”
John McConkey, President The Modern Sportsman, Burnsville, Minn.
Skyler Thomas, manager of Freedom Shooting Center (Virginia Beach, Va.), highlighted SHOT Show’s ability to equip his leadership team for the year ahead.
“It’s important for our team to engage with industry leaders and exchange ideas so we can deliver the ultimate customer experience. Our team is responsible for staying abreast of the latest developments in the industry and bringing those new ideas back to energize our entire organization,” he said. “We attended multiple range days and educational seminars throughout the week at SHOT. Our time spent at the show assists our team in focusing priorities on the year ahead and allows us to continue to serve as ambassadors for the industry.”
John McConkey, president of the Modern Sportsman (Burnsville, Minn.), noted competition between manufacturers is driving innovation — thus benefiting business.
“SHOT Show reflected the industry as a whole is in a great place right now,” he said. “Competition among manufacturers and range-equipment providers is driving innovation. Companies listening to their consumers, innovating and refining their product offerings are winning in today’s marketplace. Even with the hunting segment at a standstill, high-capacity handguns, carbines, tactical gear and the MSR segments are still growing rapidly.”
In April, we’ll feature a full slate of SHOT Show coverage.
NICS Checks Off To Strong Start
Rounding out good news for the industry, NSSF-adjusted NICS figures for Jan. 2020 posted an 18.6% increase over Jan. 2019 (up to 1,171,478 from 988,160). This total ensured it was the third-busiest January on record, behind Jan. 2013 (1,790,154) and Jan. 2016 (1,362,847). Jan. 2020’s year-over-year increase continued a streak that started in May 2019 — with NSSF-adjusted NICS figures exceeding those observed in the corresponding month of the prior year.
Momentum seems to be on the upswing in this election year — welcome news for all. Agree or disagree, we want to hear from you: email@example.com.
EOTECH Launches Retail, Range Programs
EOTECH has debuted two initiatives for storefront dealers and ranges: the EOTECH Authorized Retailer Program (EARP) and a Product Range Program.
The EARP is designed for companies interested in stocking EOTECH products and providing related services to its customers. Qualifying businesses will gain access to EOTECH’s genuine products, selling tools, product training materials and special promotions.
“The EOTECH Authorized Retailer Program is a great opportunity for retailers to offer their customers EOTECH’s best-in-class Holographic Weapon Sights (HWS), magnifiers, variable-power riflescopes and more,” said Jeff Stawiarski, EOTECH VP of sales and marketing.
If approved, retailers will enjoy many benefits that come with being an EOTECH Authorized Retailer, including special dealer/retailer-level pricing and exclusive rebate and promotional opportunities. Additionally, EOTECH Authorized Retailers receive in-store point-of-purchase promotional materials, cooperative advertising support on factory-direct purchases, discounts for employee purchases and access to educational seminars and special dealer events. Approved businesses will be listed on EOTECH’s Dealer Locator. Those interested should call EOTECH directly at (888) 368-4656.
Additionally, EOTECH has invited range operators to join its Product Range Program.
Through the program, EOTECH loans Holographic Weapon Sights to qualified ranges for use with their rental firearms.
“The Product Range Program is a great way for shooting ranges to improve the rental experience at their facilities by offering customers the opportunity to use the finest weapon sights on the market,” Stawiarski said.
Real Avid Unveils DIY Endcap
Capitalizing on the DIY trend in the consumer market, Real Avid has introduced a premium DIY endcap for dealers to display in their stores. The endcap features impactful point-of-purchase merchandising, along with the company’s most popular DIY gun tools. “The DIY endcap is a powerful way to attract customers interested in AR-15 accessories. It features the most innovative Master Grade armorer and gunsmith tools in the industry as well as ‘How To’ information for the consumer,” said Dave Steiner, Real Avid president. “Our dealers who put this in experience great sell-through of high-margin tools and it helps them sell related accessories for customizing or building guns. The DIY endcap is part of our growing family of best-selling assortments designed to appeal to specific gun owners and shooters.” / www.realavid.com
Customer-Centric Marketplace Set To Launch
Everest, a community-driven, multi-merchant marketplace, has officially soft launched and is currently in the process of onboarding hundreds of sellers. Set for a hard launch later this month, Everest is a non-discriminatory platform for hunters, shooting sports enthusiasts, anglers, campers and hikers across the country. It will link consumers and retailers with a robust marketplace where they can interact, contribute, learn, transact and give back.
“At our core, we believe in passing down the great outdoor legacies that were passed to us,” said Bill Voss, Everest CEO and founder. “Our mission is to create a one-of-a-kind marketplace where merchants can sell free of the noise of other sites. We’re committed to surpassing all customer expectations by providing unparalleled service, exceptional quality and ultimate value with every interaction.”
At time of launch, the Everest marketplace will offer shoppers options to shop from 500-plus merchants offering more than 500,000 outdoor and shooting sports products. The Everest experience will be consistently enhanced with fresh outdoor content such as how-to videos, product reviews, gear articles and much more.
“I chose the Everest marketplace to move my company to the next level,” said Neal Currey, owner of Ready Gunner in Orem, Utah. “Everest not only delivers a hyper-intelligent commerce solution, but also provides me a community-based model to help grow my brand and my base.”
Everest consumers can participate in the direction and growth of the marketplace, including giving back. Specifically, customers have the option of opening an Everest “Caliber Account” that features many benefits, including free express shipping, relevant video programming, promotional items and deep discounts on selected items. Everest will give back to philanthropic programs and outdoor industry initiatives that reflect the issues important to the Everest community such as conservation, veterans’ service organizations, cancer support and firearms safety. / www.everest.com