Practical Approach To Women’s Market Equals Success

Dealers need a way to support women shooters that is both profitable and practical. Some dealers have gotten burned by the whims of fashion when trying to cater to the women’s market, and others simply don’t have the space to carry women-only products.

Numerous studies have shown women are the fastest-growing segment of the shooting sports — especially in the beginner’s market. One dealer in Newington, Conn., has had success serving the women’s market by using a caring, courteous and quality approach.

Hoffman’s Gun Center & Indoor Shooting Range, owned by Scott Hoffman, does a brisk business in self-defense firearms.

“Hunting is not big in Connecticut anymore,” Hoffman said. “The majority of women who come into our store buy guns for defense, for practical purposes.”
Hoffman says these women primarily buy small revolvers, small semiautos and small .22s.

“Most of the women look at a gun like a tool — as they should,” he said.

As a result, Hoffman says that while he does stock a few of the brightly colored “ladies” guns, more women prefer a “regular” gun.

“The basic ‘unmarketed’ version of a gun is what women who come to our store want. Women are much shrewder shoppers than men. They are more likely to buy a gun they need than something flashy they want,” he said.

Hoffman’s is a large store with a wide variety of firearms. To meet women’s needs, Hoffman stocks plenty of smaller-framed pistols and revolvers such as Smith & Wesson J-frames and Bodyguards. Hoffman is also a big fan of Rugers.

“The Ruger LCP and LC9 are perfect for purses,” he said.

Hoffman’s does such brisk business in Rugers, in fact, that the store was named Ruger’s 2011 Retailer of the Year. They received the honor for their outstanding knowledge of the Ruger line, and their industry-leading advertising efforts.

Beyond Guns

Hoffman’s does, however, stock a few items that are ladies-only. For example, Hoffman says purse holsters from Gun Tote’n Mamas are big sellers in his store.
“I’ve never sold so many $150 purses in my life,” he said.

Mace pepper spray is also very popular, Hoffman notes. That is one area where the pink canisters outsell the regular style of spray, Hoffman says, adding that pepper sprays are the product women buy the most.

“For every 10 women who buy a gun, there are 100 carrying Mace,” he said.

Hoffman’s is a large store that is a destination location, so Hoffman doesn’t get a lot of window shoppers. He says he doesn’t view the women’s market differently than any other market.

“What helps sell guns more is the store in general,” he said. “It’s clean, nicely run, we have a courteous staff — women appreciate that.”

By Lisa Parsons-Wraith

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