I’ve been very fortunate to have chased my dream, having worked in the archery industry for the past 30 years. I’ve spent time in retail, distribution, manufacturing, and the past two years as an ATA board member.
I’ve had hundreds of conversations with retailers and manufacturers. One topic that has come up numerous times in recent years from both retailers and manufacturers is, “Are you going to the ATA Show this year?” or, “Do you think the ATA Show still makes sense?”
I believe it’s good to question the status quo, as change is the only constant in life and business.
COVID took us all from “business life support tactics” to trying to manage the unprecedented growth that hit the second half of 2020 and continued strong into 2022.
The COVID years were good for many archery retailers, manufacturers, and archery and bowhunting in general. Retailers could sell whatever they could get, and manufacturers enjoyed record increases along with record backorders.
And now, 2024 is on the horizon.
Does the ATA Show still make sense for me as a retailer or for me as a manufacturer? If you know me, I’m candid—and I’ll tell you that I think it does still make sense. I’ll start with retailers.
Attendees can see new products launched at the Show in one convenient location. Photo Credit: ATA
In my 30 years in the industry, I’ve always been driven to know what is new, and what matters. I haven’t missed an ATA Show, and if you want to know what is new and relevant for the coming year, you must be there. As a buyer for Kinsey’s, I found countless new up-and-coming items or late-launch items from existing manufacturers that I never would have known about (in time) had I not attended the Show.
The fact is, regardless of how large and meaningful of a retailer you are, not all brands have sales reps, and not all sales reps call on all accounts. There is a good reason why all the major distributors send an army of buyers to the ATA Show, and that is information gathering. If you want to be considered an expert in the archery field, you need to know what’s going on, and it is impossible to have complete knowledge without attending the ATA Show.
The ATA Show is a great place to meet other industry professionals and make valuable connections. Photo Credit: ATA
The ATA Show is a critical time for you to grow your relationships with your manufacturers. Whether it is shipping inaccuracies, late deliveries or product quality, the ATA Show is where you have access to decision makers, and where you can corner the people required to get problems solved. Sure, you can call in to a company, but most of the time you won’t truly have the ear of the decision makers, especially with larger manufacturers.
As a buyer, I always tried to have a key person at each company that I could lean on. The ATA Show is the time when you can solidify these relationships with a tenured individual within a company, or maybe even one of the product engineers. When manufacturers attend, they typically bring their best and brightest.
Knowing about the year's newest products has served Arnold well over the years. Photo Credit: ATA
Yes, this is a real thing. The single most-asked question among fellow showgoers to one another is: “What have you seen this year that is hot?” I can’t tell you how many times this type of information has served me well over the years, as a retailer, distributor, and now as a manufacturer.
Visit archerytrade.org on Oct. 26 for the second part of this series, focusing on manufacturers.
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