Author: Jackie Holbrook
What’s the story behind your first bow? Did you excitedly tear open the wrapping paper to reveal it on your birthday? After testing several models, did it fit your hand perfectly? Or was it a faithful hand-me-down from a parent, sibling or friend?
First bows play an important role in every archer’s journey. But like a first car or home, most bows require upgrades after a few years. When it’s out with the old and in with the new, what happens to the old? Some people keep old bows for sentimental reasons or as backups for the new bow. However, others sell or give away their old bows.
Do used bows have value? In many industries, trade-ins are common. Examples include the auto, home and skiing industries. Not all used goods age well, however, such as cellphones and computers.
In archery, technology continually improves, creating faster and more efficient equipment that causes archers to upgrade. What does that mean for older bows? Newer, faster models don’t necessarily make used bows obsolete.
Archery shop owners feel wonderful when helping customers choose new bows. Each time a customer settles on a new bow, you might consider taking their old bow off their hands as part of the deal. Many shops offer a used-bow program. Let’s discuss different ways to work old bows into your business.
As with trade-ins, you must thoroughly inspect the bow before accepting it for consignment. Even though it belongs to the seller, your store’s name and reputation is on the line if something goes wrong. If anything requires work or repairs, inform the bow’s owner. They must cover your costs for repairs or maintenance on the bow before you accept it for consignment. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
New is nice, but it costs more than what you already own. Some customers save for months to buy a new bow, but many customers simply can’t afford even the more affordable options.
Some archery shops offer trade-in credits for old bows when customers upgrade. Such programs can be a win-win for the shop and customer. Trade-in credits can make new bows more affordable, and help pull customers through your door.
If you plan to sell used bows, you must set strict standards for what you accept. The bow must be in good condition. You could lose money if you must make repairs or replace parts.
Scheels All Sports, for example, awards credits to customers for their old bows. They then use those credits when buying a new bow. Scheels tells customers: “Bring in your bow, and after an inspection to make sure it reaches our quality standards and is in safe working order, we will take it from there.”
Sell-by-owner platforms like eBay and Craigslist make it easy to sell used goods. However, some people consider it a hassle to handle calls and sales appointments, which makes consignment operations popular.
When customers consign merchandise, the seller retains ownership but the shop takes responsibility for the sale. Once it’s sold, the seller and shop split the profits based on their pre-sale agreement.
Xpert Archery in Farmington, New Mexico, has sold bows on consignment for nearly a decade. “People are going to buy used bows,” said Jeremy Dugger, owner of Xpert Archery. “If they’re going to buy used bows, I’d rather they buy them from me than from somebody else.”
Store owners must consider several factors to profit from consignments. For instance, they only accept bows they can sell. Even though you’ll earn a cut of the sale price, you’re offering customers alternatives to buying a new bow. Therefore, the percentage you receive on resales must provide a profit for your time spent selling the old bow.
For Xpert Archery, that means keeping 20 percent of the final sale. Its consignment business has been lucrative. In fact, the store expanded its consignment program to accept other gear and products.
As with trade-ins, you must thoroughly inspect the bow before accepting it for consignment. Even though it belongs to the seller, your store’s name and reputation is on the line if something goes wrong. If anything requires work or repairs, inform the bow’s owner. They must cover your costs for repairs or maintenance on the bow before you accept it for consignment.
Therefore, consignments also boost a store’s service business when customers buy new bows. “In most instances, the bow needs new strings, and most bows need tune-ups,” Dugger said. “It created not only the consignment fee we charge, but it also created a lot of extra service work that’s 100 percent profit.”
It can also be important to agree on a consignment timeline. All merchandise has a shelf life, and too much merchandise can hurt sales. Agree on a timeline with the owner for discounting the bow further, and eventually taking it off the shelves if it doesn’t sell.
Bowhunters often don’t like shooting their hunting bow in leagues, but can’t afford a new competition bow. And even though they can use their regular bow for bowfishing, a used bow is an affordable alternative. Photo Credit: Cajun Bowfishing.
Consider Your Customers
Selling used bows can expand your customer base, but you must be strategic. Used bows can be great options for beginning archers who aren’t ready to invest in a new bow but want to learn the sport.
If you carry used bows in the brands you sell and use to teach archery lessons, beginners can buy a bow in a brand they already know. They’ll feel comfortable with the bow and might already feel loyalty to its brand. When they’re ready to upgrade, they can buy that brand at your shop.
Archers who like owning and shooting multiple bows are another viable market. Bowhunters often don’t like shooting their hunting bow in leagues, but can’t afford a new competition bow. And even though they can use their regular bow for bowfishing, a used bow is an affordable alternative.
Used bows can turn profits for your shop, but if you don’t want to explore that market you have other options. Many nonprofit organizations accept used archery equipment for work benefiting children and underprivileged people. You can give customers credit for their used equipment, donate it to a registered nonprofit, and claim the amount as a tax write-off.
Also talk to area archery programs and ask if they need equipment. Many lack the budget for a fully funded startup. By donating bows or other equipment to them, you help create new archers and provide options for future partnerships.
To learn more about trade-ins, donations or consignments, contact other retailers who already offer these programs. ATA Connect, for example, is a secure online platform that helps retailers network, share information and ask questions.
Whether you sell new bows or older models, helping customers own their own bow helps grow the sport and industry we love.