Author: Scott Gieseke
Brian’s Archery has been a fixture in Barrington, New Hampshire, since 1979. In fact, owner Brian Brochu calls it “my life.”
But his difficult decision to sell the store offers an outstanding opportunity for someone to buy a successful archery business and grow it further. After all, Brian’s Archery is the area’s only archery-specific shop, and one of the nation’s few archery-only shops. Brochu’s core customers live within a 50-mile radius, but some loyal customers travel from Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. “People know where they can get good service, and they’ll travel for it, if needed,” he said.
Brochu’s loyal client base has helped Brian’s Archery thrive even when sporting-goods chain stores moved in nearby.
“Every time a big-box store was opening, we’d get nervous,” Brochu said. “For the first year, we would notice a dip in sales, but we’d get those customers back once the newness wore off. Although we lose some sales on targets and treestands, people still come to us for bows, tournaments, leagues, instruction, classes, and service on equipment they buy from us or a big-box retailer.”
Brochu said that strong customer base is also one of Brian’s Archery’s main selling points.
“Starting the business I have now from scratch would be difficult, if not impossible,” Brochu said. “The owner would have to stock enough inventory and have enough people come in really quickly to survive. Because my shop has been established for 35 years, the new buyer would have no problem running it and expanding if they’d like.”
Most of Brochu’s customers – about 85 percent – are bowhunters, and the rest are solely recreational archers, or they enjoy bowhunting and recreational archery. Brochu said the shop has always enjoyed steady streams of young customers, although movies and other pop-culture references added to a youth surge the past two or three years.
Other than youths, another customer segment has changed dramatically since his shop opened. “The women’s market is probably the biggest change I’ve seen in the business so far,” Brochu said. “Early on, we’d go weeks without a woman coming in, and when women did come in, they were usually with their husband or boyfriend. There are days now that more women visit the store than men, which I think is great.”
Brochu said his shop has changed in other ways, too. For one, Brian’s Archery was in Brochu’s basement from 1979 until 1990 before moving to its current location. The shop now covers a 1,200-square-foot retail area and a 1,800-square-foot indoor range.
The type and volume of orders also changed as the business boomed. “The first order I placed was for two bows, a dozen cedar arrows, and a few arm guards and shooting gloves,” Brochu said. “Back then, that order cost a lot of money and made me nervous. Now, we’ll place an order of that size a few times daily.”
Brochu said he never intended to start an archery shop, and didn’t decide until 1988 that his part-time hobby would become a full-time business. What started with Brochu making arrows for a few buddies eventually became Brian’s Archery. Eleven years into the venture, Brochu and his wife purchased land and eventually built the shop’s building. Likewise, Brochu and his wife originally worked in the shop part time. The shop now has full-time and part-time employees.
“The number of people we service now compared to when we started is huge,” Brochu said. “There are a lot of people in the area shooting archery that wouldn’t have if we weren’t here. It’s amazing to think that we helped grow the interest here. We helped establish the local archery market, and then helped it grow.”
Although owning an archery shop was never Brochu’s goal, selling his shop is part of a 10-year retirement plan that’s lasted 12 years so far. “We decided a long time ago we’d have to relinquish control of the business,” Brochu said. “We want to go places and experience things while we’re still young and healthy enough to hike and travel.”
Though he “expects to have a bad day” once the shop sells, Brochu said he and his wife look forward to spending more time at their land in Iowa and Colorado, and to making Iowa their home base for driving their fifth-wheel camper to Texas, Colorado and Wyoming.
“Everything we’ve done for 35 years, whether purchasing a car or a house, has been influenced by the shop,” Brochu said. “It’s a hard decision to put a business up for sale after you’ve done it for so long. It’s hard to let go.”
Brochu hopes the next owner will share his passion for archery, and possibly maintain the shop’s archery-only concept. And he’s confident that despite incredible growth over the past 35 years, the business still has growth potential. With retirement looming, he simply didn’t push expansion in recent years.
“It’s tough to move in two directions: a larger shop and retirement,” Brochu said. “With the new owner, there’s potential for the shop to grow and serve even more people than it does now.”
Since listing the shop for sale in December 2015, Brochu has received interest from potential buyers, and had one offer. He also spoke to interested parties at the 2016 ATA Trade Show, but still awaits the right offer.
To learn more about Brian’s Archery, contact Ed Settino of New Hampshire Business Sales at (603) 715-1097, or visit nhbizsales.com.