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Special intelligence.

It's not like you folks have to be told, but ours is a "non-essential" industry. Consumers don't buy guns, scopes, binoculars, reloading equipment, and miscellaneous hunting and shooting gear unless things are ... well, okay. You know: a steady job, a roof over the family, a sound car, the wife and kids well dressed, and no immediate need for a major appliance. When all is going well and none of the above are threatened, then and only then will a person become a firearm customer.

Unfortunately, customers axe the one commodity of which none of us have enough these days, and I think I know at least one of the reasons why.

Let's pretend for a moment we can look m on a network TV producer who has a choice of three headline stories for the nightly news: 1) A cure for cancer has been found, 2) Intelligent life has been discovered on Mars, or 3) A 1 -percent decline in the GNP last month points to a deepening recession. Now, which one are we likely to see as the lead story. Bingo! The one which will terrify viewers into watching the news.

Okay, so I'm being a little cynical - but only a little. We've allowed the media to talk us deeper into this recession than we have a right to be. There is no question in my mind that the networks' penchant for the dark side has had a telling effect. They may not have started it, but when the first signs of a slowing economy appeared, the media grabbed onto it like wild dogs and haven't let go. Alas, bad news is news.

So what do we do about it' How do we convince that vast majority out there who are financially "okay" that they shouldn't succumb to the scare tactics of the media?

From what I've seen those dealers who are best weathering the "'R' word" are the ones who have been most successful at getting people into their stores. These days they're doing that by emphasizing the small ticket items, by running specials on ammo, reloading equipment, and accessories, and by utilizing strong promotions for buying and selling used guns.

This is really no different than the strategies which are being used successfully in every other aspects of consumer goods appliances, clothing, cars, hobbies, furniture ... you name it. It started last Spring when, for the first time in history, used cars began outselling new ones, and it's filtered on down to where you hear the same story everywhere.

Today people are just too frightened to consider the big ticket stuff, but going cold turkey is something nobody likes either. People are still willing to spend money on those little "fixes" that keep them feeling active and involved in guns and hunting. Sure they're going to buy that new varmint rifle and scope they've been wanting ... when things get better. For now you've got to get their attention with smaller things, the things that don't require a major buying decision.

In The Promotion Department...

The busiest store I've seen lately is one with a huge sign out front saying Desperately Need Used Guns.' I know for a fact this store needs anything but used guns, but saying so brings people into the store at a time when specials on new guns just aren't working.

Ammo, shooting glasses, cartridge carriers, scope lens covers, trigger shoes - all the little stuff that keeps the enthusiast's interest up, that's what's selling these days, and that's what you should be promoting.

This is also a time of year when reloading is a viable alternative to a new gun purchase. We all know that a lot of guys get started in reloacting with the idea of saving money, but we also know it seldom works out that way. Typically the new handloader winds up shooting five times as much as he used to, becomes more involved m guns than he ever was before, and winds up spending more money than ever. The way I see it, there has probably never been a better time to promote reloading than now when the prospect of saving a little means spending a lot.
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Author:Sundra, Jon R.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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