Many of us have suspected intuitively and now know (with the most recent NSSF study) that the number of women hunters, target shooters and gun owners has increased dramatically. We are one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. This creates opportunity for forward and quick thinking retailers.
But remember, like any group or sub group, women shooters represent a wide array of tastes and preferences. We do not all think the same, but there are some generalities that characterize most of us.
Women looking to make gun or accessory purchases want what everyone
wants when they shop…a positive, easy and pleasant experience. I have spoken with women around the country, and find it amazing how often retailers don’t get that.
In my personal experience, there are three key areas: Interior Design, Merchandise Selection and Staffing.
Interior Design – Whether you have a women’s department inside a larger store or are a small standalone business, you want your area to be visually pleasing. Use bright colors and lighting that won’t distort color such that it will look the same inside as outside. Sprinkle mirrors liberally throughout the area. Add comfortable seating so that friends or significant others can be part of the shopping experience. Keep aisles wide enough to comfortably walk through while holding merchandise by hand or in a cart (if applicable). Keep shelving and merchandise clean so it is dust and stain free. No one wants to buy something that looks like it has been on the shelf for months…even if it has been. If you are selling clothing, make sure to have at least one well lit dressing room. A clean, bright bathroom is a must.
Merchandise – Carry products that have been vetted by women. Women who have had firearms training are more likely to purchase multiple guns and accessories for those guns. Information is available on what women prefer and why. For instance, women with shooting experience tend to reject pink or other colored guns. Make sure to offer a wide selection of colors and styles for this reason.
Many women want to try on products before purchasing. Whether it’s the feel of the gun grip in her hand or the way the holster sits on her hips, take the time to learn what works and carry a representation of these products. If your vendor doesn’t carry women’s products, pressure them or choose one that is more proactive toward women shooters. Be serious about connecting with a women’s gun group in your area and find out the products and accessories they want.
Staffing – Make sure your team is comfortable selling to women. Observe how they treat a woman when she walks in the store. Is she ignored? Talked to in a condescending manner? Gently guided to smaller caliber guns or guns with pink coloring? Many women have had the experience of walking into a gun shop and having a hard time getting attention of the sales staff, at all. I have walked out of stores I entered with intention of making a purchase where I have felt invisible. Women share these negative experiences…and in this age of social media, they spread like wildfire. Don’t be the business that gets the heat and must walk the long road to recovery.
These are just a few of the most important things to be mindful of as you prepare to sell to the key market of women shooters. Adopting these suggestions will go a long way toward showing women shooters in your area that you take them seriously.
Feel free to contact me at Lucretia@TheAmericanWomanShooter or (520) 398-7745 for more information on how to get started.
Lucretia Free, Publisher, The American Woman Shooter
Editor’s Note: Lucretia Free is an entrepreneur who came to the shooting sports less than two years ago, and has taken the plunge completely. Read her intriguing story and profile.