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The official 1996 SHOT Show survival guide.

The SHOT Show is again upon us. The feared Black Tuesday that was predicted during the Brady Bill Boom is upon us, too. A lot of dealers are having a sales year so slow that the trip to Texas is out of the question this time around.

If you do decide to go, let's talk about survival gear. Number one: Think business. Go easy on the free booze at the hospitality rooms. Unless you're ready to cruise the show in a golf cart, you're gonna be doing a lot of walking on hard floors with precious few places to sit down. The only worse time to have a hangover would be your first few weeks as a boot at Parris Island.

Think shoes. Soft soled, air-filled, comfortable shoes that you've broken in well in advance.

Think wardrobe planning. This won't be the first January that the SHOT Show has been held in Dallas. While the show will be medium temperate, the outside world is likely to be somewhere between cool and cold in Texas at that time of year. Dress in layers. Coat racks will be notable by their absence, and we'll deal with that momentarily.

Think truckin' stuff. You'll pick up more pamphlets and catalogs than you'd ever imagine as a first-time SHOT Show attendee. Drop by the nearest luggage store and pick up one of those lightweight, collapsible luggage trolleys. You'll be embarrassed to have that damn thing with the "granny wheels" for most of the first morning, but as the heavy printed matter you've accumulated starts piling up and you scan just how many, many miles of aisles there are at the convention center, you'll be glad that you did it by the end of your first day. It also gives you some place to conveniently carry your coat and sweater.

Think gettin' stuff back. They'll have a shipping center there, but you'll wait in line longer than you want and they'll charge you an arm and a leg. It's better to travel light, with all your clothes and toiletries in one suitcase and another large, sturdy piece of luggage for all the paper material and samples you'll accumulate. Virtually every airline gives you two large suitcases free as checked baggage with your ticket, without added charge. Indeed, a reinforced suitcase with wheels and a drag leash could do double duty as your walk-along companion to dump the stuff into as you go through the vast expanse of the show floor.

Think memorabilia. Bring a camera, lots and lots of film, and - trust me - an extra camera battery. A lot of folks bring video cameras. Part of this is personal, and part of it is professional. Customers who have seen the photo of you on your gunshop wall, handling the new Prototype X Mark V Magna Blaster, two months before they read their first gun magazine article about it, realize that they are in the domain of a well-connected heavy hitter who is the sort of person they should be patronizing for their firearms needs.

All the gun and hunting magazines are there, and so are most of their writers. They'll usually have scheduled hours posted at the booths where you can meet this or that favorite gun expert, and almost without exception, you can get your picture taken with him or her and chat with the expert about whatever's on your mind.

What's that good for? Customer Manny Magnum drops into your store and asks about a concealable Model 29 that'll fit under his tailored business suit. You realize that you ain't Houdini and you try to talk him into that compact 9mm that's sitting there on the top shelf of the display case like an eager puppy waiting to be adopted out of the SPCA. "No," says Manny, "I have taken John Taffin as my role model, and I couldn't sleep knowing he might find out I was carrying a piddling 9mm!"

What better strategy than to whip out your SHOT Show souvenir photo of you and the selfsame John Taffin with arms around one another's shoulders and say, "Well, funny you should say that, Manny. I was talking with John in Dallas a while ago - what, you haven't met him? Aw, too bad, he's a heck of a good man - and he told me that when he's walking around in the city like you and I, instead of in the mountains, he often carries a Smith & Wesson Model 3953 just like this one." It's true, by the way, and it's the kind of thing that clinches the sale of the product the customer really needed.

Think training. There are seminars going on throughout the SHOT Show. How to work more smoothly with BATF. How to sell more products. How to do local publicity campaigns. There will also be numerous conclaves hosted by gun and ammo companies explaining all the research that went into their latest introductions, and those things are like the dealer's guide on how to sell the product.

And, on your off-time hours, think safety. Don't be cruising the wrong part of the city after hours looking for action. As I sit here typing this into the word processor. I remember that every time I've been to Dallas, it was for one of two things: a SHOT Show, or a trial related to a homicide. In this issue you'll find a batch of articles written by Lisa Parsons letting you know where to go and what to see in Dallas when you're not at the show. These are places where you can enjoy yourself without wandering into the Bad Lands that are found in every large city. Be smart. Remember, you're in Dallas to attend the SHOT Show. Be safe and keep a clear head.

If you can't make it, we understand. It's been a tough year for everybody in the business, but the Shooting Industry crew will make sure you read everything you need to know about what went on at the 1996 SHOT Show in these pages. We'll also make sure you don't miss out on all those catalogs you would have stuffed into that spare suitcase. In the March issue, where we always review the SHOT Show, you'll find a Spring Catalog Showcase that will give you the chance to order all the catalogs you need.

If you can make it, stop by the SI booth (#5552). I'll be checking in there on a regular schedule. I hope to see you there.
COPYRIGHT 1995 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Lethal Force; Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show
Author:Ayoob, Massad
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 1, 1995
Previous Article:Industry ends devastating year, 1996 a test of survival.
Next Article:1996 will be a magnum year for centerfire rifle ammo.

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