Author: Cassie Gasaway
Right now, customers are starting to flock to archery retail shops, and owners are busy greeting newcomers, restocking shelves and servicing equipment. Yep, it’s apparent – the 2019 busy season is here.
So what’s the forecast for this year’s season? To gain industry insight, we spoke with three ATA members. They outlined their expectations and predictions for the 2019 season and beyond.
Let’s dive in.
Green Acres Sporting Goods has tried to engage more with customers on their social media. Photo credit: Green Acres Sporting Goods Facebook
Shifting Marketing Strategies
A hot topic among many ATA members is the ATA’s consumer campaign, which aims to drive customers to member stores. The campaign features a fleet of inspiring archery videos to ignite consumer interest in archery sports, and then encourages them to visit thethrillisnocking.com to receive a coupon for an hour of range time.
Bradley Farhat, manager of Green Acres Sporting Goods in Jacksonville, Florida, believes the campaign has probably already brought in new customers.
“The campaign will definitely help recruit a lot of new archers and people interested in the sport,” he said. “It’s been crazy here already this season, which is a good thing. I’m here three or four hours after we close stocking shelves, making equipment repairs, and tuning and restringing bows so customers have a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours.”
Rick Hellums, owner of Archery Unlimited in Prattville, Alabama, feels the pressure of the busyness, but said he’s happy the ATA is driving new customers to his shop.
“Anytime you can get customers into your store, that’s such a plus for us,” Hellums said. “Getting them in the store is the hardest part. Once they’re here we can do our job to introduce them [to archery disciplines] and turn them into archers.”
To piggy-back off the ATA’s campaign momentum, both shops have adapted their marketing strategies to attract new archers.
Hellums moved away from traditional ads like TV, radio, print and billboards, and is sponsoring three competitive shooters who are well-known on local and national levels. The archers wear jerseys that advertise his business at competitions, hunting shows and other industry-related functions.
“They’re producing more revenue for me than any other traditional forms of marketing advertising I’ve tried in the past,” Hellums said. “We have three pros shooting out of our shop. People see them, watch them and follow them on the circuit, and we’ve noticed a huge increase in our sales this year since we’ve had those guys in here.”
Farhat and his team started dabbling in the social media world. So far, “it seems to do well,” he said. Green Acres Sporting Goods is focused on running online promotions, and interacting with customers on digital platforms so they feel welcome and appreciated.
Most shops are seeing an increase in youth and female archers/bowhunters. Photo Credit: Headhunter Bow Strings
Focusing on New Customer Groups
According to Farhat, appealing to different categories and demographics of people – especially those who have never thought about archery or bowhunting before – has helped boost sales. He hopes new archery celebrities can attract newcomers and inspire growth.
“We need to find more people from different backgrounds to advocate [for archery sports,]” he said. “It definitely helps to have people that aren’t ‘typical’ hunters – who also have a large platform – promoting archery.”
Jeff Adee, president of Headhunter Bowstrings in Wisconsin, agrees. He said successful retailers and manufacturers are the ones doing more than just selling products.
“The companies that are doing better are recruiting more kids, women and general shooters in their communities,” Adee said. “Everyone in the industry needs to work together to get people to love archery and be as passionate about it as everyone already in the sport.”
Headhunter Bowstrings sponsors and assists with 4-H and community events to introduce more people to archery. He said these efforts are changing customer trends.
And as customer trends shift, so must a retailer’s product offerings.
Diversifying Product Categories
Farhat has seen an increase in traditional archery interest and is rethinking how many bows and accessories he needs to carry in each category. Meanwhile, Hellums said many gun hunters are buying archery equipment, including vertical bows and crossbows to extend their seasons. He’s also noticed an upswing in the sale of youth and women’s bows.
Adee believes crossbow sales are plateauing because many states have already changed their regulations regarding who can use crossbows. However, he thinks those who enjoy hunting with a crossbow will likely invest in a better quality crossbow the next few years.
Shop owners are confident the industry is doing well. Photo Credit: Archery Business/Archery Unlimited
Adapting to Rules and Regulations
Changing laws and regulations also keep consumers and ATA members on their toes.
Hellums said the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources changed its regulations to offer baiting in 2019. “That’s been a big topic and has changed a lot of things [we sell to our customers],” he said.
Meanwhile, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission changed whitetail bag limits from unlimited deer to an annual limit of five deer, with no more than two being antlerless. Farhat said the regulation hasn’t affected his shop’s offerings or his customers hunting for meat, but he has had to notify many people about the change.
Additionally, chronic wasting disease is causing issues and prompting wildlife agencies to update their regulations. Florida now prohibits hunters from bringing deer carcasses across the state line to prevent the disease from spreading. The Alabama DCNR put a ban on deer urine collected and packaged out-of-state, which forced Hellums to change his deer-urine scent offerings.
Aside from a few small concerns, such as CWD, tariffs, changing minimum advertised price policies and unknown product-ship dates and timelines, Adee, Hellums and Farhat believe the industry is doing well. All three men have high hopes for the 2019 season and the next few years.
“The economy is good so people are happy and spending money,” Hellums said.
Farhat mirrors the thought. “The industry fluctuates with the economy,” he said. “It’s pretty stable right now, so people aren’t afraid to try archery, or spend extra money on a new bow or accessory.”
The ATA encourages members to share ideas and tactics that benefit their business on ATA Connect, an online discussion community for ATA members. Visit ATA Connect through your MyATA member dashboard to start talking about the 2019 season.
Questions? Contact the ATA membership office at (866) 266-2776 or firstname.lastname@example.org.