As most bowhunting seasons wind down for the year and archery shops’ business slows with it, winter doldrums often await. But with creativity and customer service, you can turn winter into a profitable time. The tips below can help you transition your shop from fall to winter.
Leagues create a sense of community and provide an indoor activity during the cold months. Photo Credit: Hunter's Den
When it’s cold outside people often search for indoor activities. “Going into winter, we stay extremely busy with indoor leagues,” said Cara Kelly, manager of Hunter’s Den in Lapeer, Michigan. Thanks to the shop’s 20-yard indoor range, the shop fills up every January when leagues begin.
“Indoor leagues keep people coming in, and they upgrade stuff, so leagues help keep the shop busy when people are done hunting,” Kelly said. “Winter is when we really tap into the recreational side of our market.”
Kelly encourages shop owners to stock their shelves with merchandise that appeals to target archers. “Sometimes it’s hard for stores to stock that kind of merchandise because it’s more on the costly side, but with leagues you build up that clientele,” Kelly said.
Focus on youth that may be looking for an indoor sport during the winter. Photo Credit: Flaming Arrow Archery
Archery shops start slowing down when Western rifle seasons open. Flaming Arrow Archery in Kalispell, Montana, stays busy during October and November by focusing on archery’s next generation.
“We have a lot of kids who show interest in archery, especially once the 4-H club starts shooting at the shop,” said Nicole Tindale, owner of Flaming Arrow Archery. “We focus on trying to grow archery in schools. While you have the time, focus on kid-friendly stuff that helps inspire people.”
For inspirational ideas on getting kids into the shop, read “3 Ways to Connect Youths to Archery.”
Don’t go looking for customers when you can create them. “Introduction to Archery” classes can attract new customers for your shop. “We try to stay involved in our community,” Kelly said. “We want to help people touch a bow for the first time and learn it the correct way.”
Certified archery instructors have access to USA Archery’s Explore Archery curriculum, which provides lesson plans and activities. For tips on how to host a class, read “How to Teach a Successful Archery Class.”
Special events are another way to attract new customers or bring old ones back. “We’re going to have veterans come next week for lessons,” Tindale said. “We just try to spread the love of archery.”
For fun ideas on how to host special events, read “Festive Shoots: Offer Themed Events at Your Range!”
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Make sure you are promoting your shop as an option for holiday shopping. Photo Credit: Flaming Arrow Archery
The holidays are filled with bows, and not just the kind that adorn presents. “People get bows for Christmas, so through Thanksgiving and December we stay busy with people coming in and buying Christmas gifts,” Kelly said.
Think big and small for holiday shopping. Line your shelves with stocking stuffers, such as archery and hunting accessories under $10. Order this inventory far in advance because manufacturers can sell out. Bundle products into holiday gift packages that target different audiences, such as new archers or hunters.
“People really want a good deal for Christmas,” Tindale said. “All the new bows are coming, so we try to figure out what sold and what didn’t work so well.”
Spread the word that your shop is an important stop for holiday shopping, and special shopping days like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Email marketing drives sales, and can generate great returns on investment. Social-media platforms let you share photos of merchandise displays and holiday goods. For more ideas, read “7 Tips to Maximize Holiday Business.”
If you have questions, reach out to fellow retailers through ATA Connect, an exclusive online discussion community for ATA members. This safe, secure space lets you pose questions and discuss ideas. The Retail Growth Interact community is reserved for ATA-member retailers to ask questions and share ideas. You can also take ATA Connect with you after downloading the ATA Connect App.