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Published by Guy Basso

Tuesday 23 January - Friday 26 January

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  • The SHOT Show is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries.
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    • Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show should be to stop by the NSSF booth and learn more about your benefits and meet the NSSF team. We look forward to your visit!

      —John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retailer Services

      Shedhorn moves old inventory online to make way for new.
      Shedhorn Sports in Ennis, Montana, was founded by Rob Gallentine in 1979. The business began as just a small department within a Gambles Hardware store 50 miles from Bozeman where Rob and his dad, Glen, operated a family outfitting business offering high-country summer pack trips and guided big-game hunts. At the time, southwest Montana didn't have a sporting goods store available that catered to hunters in the area, so a niche was identified and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, the hardware store is no more, but the family tradition of Shedhorn Sports continues as one of the most respected sporting goods retailers in Montana.

      Similar to other outdoor retailers, Shedhorn offers guns, ammunition, hunting equipment, archery gear and adventure clothing. Its downtown location is within walking distance of the famous Madison River, making Shedhorn’s fishing tackle business brisk, as well.

      Gallentine’s mission is to see customers enjoy the outdoors by offering high-quality products at competitive prices. Gallentine begins formulating his buying strategy for the year immediately following SHOT Show but admits he does “sit on his heels a little bit,” taking in other shows before putting his plan in place at his buyer’s show.

      “The SHOT Show is kind of a predecessor for me to Sports, Inc.’s buying group,” explains Gallentine about the brief lag time between SHOT Show and when he does most of his actual buying. “With SHOT Show, I kind of come home and I say ‘All right, if I’ve gotta buy something, I’m going to do it through the buying group — unless it is something different like [something new from] Freedom Arms. After SHOT, I came back and ordered three more Freedom Arms handguns to come in this year. We just got done with a Sports Inc. show in Phoenix, where we spent $700,000 to $800,000 with several manufacturers.”

      When it comes to trying to directly monetize SHOT Show, Gallentine calls it “a wash,” noting that, unfortunately, a lot of manufacturers don’t yet have price lists available. As such, SHOT doesn’t directly affect his buying much, though he says he enjoys Vegas and that it’s important for him to be there to see exclusives from big brands such as Browning and Winchester. “With Les Baer and Ed Brown, you’re not going to see them anywhere else in the world,” he concedes. After SHOT, Gallentine places his dealer-direct orders within the month.

      Using social media during the show to talk about new products, followed by repeat mentions after the show and “New at Shedhorn” announcements keep the foot traffic brisk and the register ringing.

      During and after SHOT, Shedhorn keeps customers informed about new items and product lines through social media and its website. Gallentine calls his Facebook marketing plan “viable” and notes that they’re always trying to do better at it. Radio and TV “do well,” according to him, but for Shedhorn, print advertising just doesn’t work.

      “We picked up Proof Research,” Gallentine says of an example of a new product line he added at this year’s SHOT Show. “Met them at SHOT Show and I went through the items with the guys there and decided ‘Yes, I’m going to bring in Proof Research.’ It’s a Montana company and they’re supposed to be the best carbon-fiber barrels out there, so it’s on Facebook now along with a couple other new lines.”

      Gallentine says they post about new products both during the show and throughout the year. “It’s good that everybody who sees Shedhorn Sports online [at SHOT Show] knows that we're looking for new products,” Gallentine says of their social media posts. After SHOT is over, he posts those new products on both Facebook and his website when they actually come into the store and promotes those items as “New at Shedhorn.” “Every gun in the store is on our website organized by manufacturer. Anybody cruising my inventory will see it,” he adds.

      Instead of waiting until the last minute and blowing out inventory in a rush (and often at a loss) as many retailers do, Shedhorn works diligently throughout the early winter months before SHOT Show to move its older inventory.

      With lots of new products coming in, Gallentine works to eliminate old inventory during November and December, rather than try and blow it out at the last minute. “Moving old inventory by discounting it or whatever just doesn’t work very well for me,” he says.

      That is unless it’s optics. “Scope lines are different,” Gallentine explains, saying how optics makers constantly make tweaks, leaving him with “old” optics on the shelf that in-store customers don’t want because they expect to see only the newest products. “We use eBay for that,” Gallentine says of how he moves out last year’s optics. “We try to get rid of them on eBay so that when a customer comes in the store looking for a bino, he doesn’t buy the discontinued one that you don’t make any profit on. He buys the new model that you actually make a few hundred dollars on.”

      Though 2018 may ultimately end up being a challenging year for retailers, Gallentine came back from SHOT a little bit more enthusiastic about the coming year. “I was a little bit more aggressive in my buying after I got done there,” he says. “I think it’s going to be a good year. I came away really excited about this coming year.”

      See how Shedhorn’s dedication to both its die-hard hunting clientele and its staff makes it a destination retailer in this “From the Counter” column by Peter Mathiessen.

      About the Author
      Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for such storied publications as American Rifleman and Field & Stream. He has produced award-winning television programs on personal-defense and has hunted extensively in North America, Europe 
      and Africa.

      The post Working the Show: Shedhorn Sports, Ennis, Montana appeared first on NSSF SHOT Show 2018.
      Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show ... See more
      See more on line
      Working the Show: Shedhorn Sports, Ennis, Montana
    • Look at these beauties! Baron Technology, Inc. has helped raise money for important industry programs and charities at #SHOTShow throughout the years with its incredible engraved firearms.
    • Here's a look at how Centennial Gun Club – a firearms store, shooting range and training facility based in Centennial, Colorado – uses the #SHOTShow to propel its coming year of business. See more on line
    • Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show should be to stop by the NSSF booth and learn more about your benefits and meet the NSSF team. We look forward to your visit!

      —John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retailer Services

      Facility Background
      Centennial Gun Club’s Richard Abramson is a recipient of the SHOT Business Award for Independent Retailer of the Year.

      Centennial Gun Club is a membership-based firearms store, shooting range and training facility located in the suburb of Centennial, Colorado, south of Denver. Since 2012, this facility has offered a complete “Equip-Prepare-Practice” experience that combines an exceptional firearms dealer with a state-of-the-art firing range and outstanding firearms training.

      “We believe that having the right equipment, receiving outstanding training and practicing on the range on a regular basis are the keys to skills-at-arms,” says Centennial’s CEO and General Manager, Richard Abramson. “Centennial Gun Club brings all these elements together in one location. Our training programs help us to segment customers as we ask them to select a training track that meets their interests: safety, marksmanship, competition, personal defense, etc. We market products and services to them based on these interests.”

      Though membership-based and boasting about 5,600 members, the facility is also open to the public. It is staffed by 52 employees Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The nearly 5,000-square-foot retail space is stocked with approximately 1,500 new and 300 used handguns, shotguns and rifles (primarily MSRs) for target shooting and defensive use, as well as their complementary accessories. The shooting facility maintains 44 lanes, there are four training classrooms and four on-staff gunsmiths.

      SHOT Show’s Information Propels the Year
      Each year at SHOT Show, the Centennial team attends SHOT Show University. In the last two years staff has also attended the new Executive Management Seminar. Of both, Abramson says they glean useful information that they implement immediately after the show.

      “Information on products is shared with our staff upon return from SHOT Show,” he explains, adding that if they see interesting new products at SHOT, they will take photos or video for later posting on their social media sites, provided the products will be available in the store in the near future.

      Centennial does not necessarily place a lot of orders at SHOT Show, but Abramson says they will take advantage of show specials that give them the best opportunities to boost margins or bring interesting new products to their store.

      “In addition to the retail products, we spend time with the range equipment manufacturers to find new innovation that will bring more shooters into our range. This includes new types of target systems that make the shooting experience more fun and bring additional revenue to our business. We also look for new training tools to use in our instruction,” he says.

      At SHOT, Abramson asks manufacturers to provide looping video that can be used on Centennial’s digital in-store signage, social media, e-blasts and website.

      “When new items arrive at the store, we take a photo or video and post it on social media with a product introduction,” says Abramson, adding that they move out old inventory post-show by marking down prices.

      An annual Firearms Festival attracts approximately 5,000 customers who enjoy everything from live music to meeting special guests.

      Another one of Abramson’s objectives at SHOT is to get commitments for vendor weekends and support for Centennial’s large annual community event, their Firearms Festival. The festival attracts nearly 5,000 guests who enjoy everything from live entertainment and prizes, games, food trucks, vendors, sales, pro shooter appearances and swag to meeting special guests such as two of the heroes of Benghazi, John “Tig” Tiegen and Mark “Oz” Geist.

      Post-Show Marketing That Works
      For the majority of its marketing communications after SHOT Show is over and new product intros have been decided on for the year, Centennial relies on email, Instagram and Facebook, though the gun club created a unique closed group within Facebook to communicate more freely with its customers. To join the closed group, Facebook users must request permission to join and be accepted.

      “Facebook is so discriminatory against the firearms industry, about the only way you can get a message out on Facebook is by the group,” Abramson explains about why they created the group. Though there is organic growth to the group, Abramson says Centennial Gun Club pushes joining its range membership through email messages and in-store displays. “It’s getting close to 5,000 users right now,” he says of the Facebook closed group.

      “We’re an active membership-based organization,” he added, “so I think we probably have a bit more of a personal relationship with our customers than those ranges that aren’t membership-based,” Abramson says, also explaining how Centennial uses everything from in-store suggestion boxes to email feedback as listening posts for what customers want.

      Centennial’s training programs help segment customers by having them select a training track that meets their interests. The ability to meet those interests is driven in large part by the range equipment manufacturers Centennial’s staff meets with at SHOT Show.

      One of its regular social media campaigns is Centennial’s clever “Gun of the Month” program in which a specific model is offered at special pricing or packaged with various accessories, a rental model is free that month and there is a drawing for a free firearm.

      “We do contests and drawings through our social media and use Infusionsoft to create sales funnels,” says Abramson. “We pick up all of our drawing entries through a text campaign, so we pick up a lot of new folks’ contact info just from them entering the drawing. It’s just a really successful program for us.”

      About the Author
      Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for such storied publications as American Rifleman and Field & Stream. He has produced award-winning television programs on personal-defense and has hunted extensively in North America, Europe and Africa.

      The post Working the Show: Centennial Gun Club, Centennial, Colorado appeared first on NSSF SHOT Show 2018.
      Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show ... See more
      See more on line
      Working the Show: Centennial Gun Club, Centennial, Colorado
    • Police Magazine editors walked the aisles of the 2018 #SHOTShow to learn about the latest products for law enforcement. Here's their report on the nation's largest police equipment show. See more on line
    • Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” will share how various successful retailers across the country plan for SHOT Week and what they’re looking to accomplish while they’re at the show. After the show, the series examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show should be to stop by the NSSF booth and learn more about your benefits and meet the NSSF team. We look forward to your visit!

      —John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retailer Services

      Sportsman’s Loft in Minot, North Dakota, had an unusual beginning 20 years ago as an antiques dealer. It has since grown into a dedicated gun store that is now a perennial Top 10 seller on GunBroker.

      “We were an antique store and received a catalog, kind of by mistake, that had optics,” explains store manager Tyler Burton, as he describes the store’s bold move and eventual transition. “Our antique shop was called The Attic, which is what our FFL is under. We had a loft area in the store, so we started carrying some of that stuff [optics] upstairs there, and then optics turned into a little more stuff and then some shooting stuff. We got an FFL and … we got our name Sportsman’s Loft because it was up in the loft.”

      With antiques a thing of the past, the Loft’s 4,000 square-foot brick-and-mortar retail store keeps between 3,000 and 4,000 guns in stock, with 2,500 guns on the sales floor. It has seven full-time and two part-time employees. Hours are Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and, in stark contrast to conventional wisdom, this internet sales giant does not have a website.

      “We just use Facebook and GunBroker,” says Burton, when explaining how the store may have only 5,534 Facebook followers, but ships 30 to 50 packages a day. “We’re shipping out of here every day. UPS picks up here at 4:00 every day, and we load the truck down.”

      A large part of that kind of success comes from the Loft’s post-SHOT Show strategy that Burton says begins pretty much as soon as they get back from the show and get the catalogs and brochures unpacked. Fellow employees are excited about the new products, and together they discuss what each other thinks, what they should order and how many units. Some products the Loft jumps on right away, while information on other, less immediate but still interesting items are stored in a special SHOT Show folder.

      “We keep a file folder of the key things that we thought were neat there,” says Burton. “We jump on the [immediate] stuff, keep that [file] and we’ll flip back through that.”

      Rather than wait until items are in stock to upload those product images to social media, the Loft uploads a couple hundred photos right away so customers can “see the cool stuff that’s coming out” and “what’s neat.” Though they blast out everything cool they saw at SHOT, Burton recognizes there are going to be some buzz-worthy products announced that won’t actually be available until the following year.

      “I don’t know how many calls I get about the Hudson 9mm handgun,” laughs Burton about the striker-fired, 1911-like handgun everybody saw last year at SHOT but few have seen since. “We post new products and people will message us about it,” says Burton about how he uses social media to make sales. The Loft has a fairly quick, 100-percent response rate to Facebook users commenting in the store’s posts. “If they still have a question, we have them call us, or we’ll call them. Facebook has been pretty decent for us that way, as far as not having a website.”

      “We don’t want to be a pest,” Burton told me, explaining why the Loft doesn’t also use newsletters or blogs to spread the word about what’s in stock. “Our social media does pretty well for us; our big following is on GunBroker. We have a lot of people who follow our site to see the new products there.”

      With new items coming in, Burton says The Loft isn’t shy about blowing out old inventory to make way for it. “If it’s a non-MAP item, we’ll move them out,” he says, cautioning that when he cuts prices really deeply, he limits it to in-store only, because he doesn’t want to kill the market online. “Our inventory is not a collection. We’re here to turn and burn. I have zero attachment to [inventory] at this point,” he says candidly. “If there’s new product coming, it’s time for the old to go.”

      Some of the decisions regarding what new products to stock come from The Loft’s customers. Being a true gun store instead of a generic sporting goods establishment with lots of related lines on the side, Burton says his customers tend to be “gun guys” who are just as knowledgeable and often know more about what’s new than they do. With fairly high and regular store traffic, he adds that customers regularly share images of the newest and most interesting guns and accessories. The folks at The Loft also follow several gun-related social media sites to see what’s new and aren’t shy about spreading the word. “If we see something that’s neat, we’ll definitely share it,” says Burton.

      Every year at SHOT is different for the Loft. Burton says some years they may spend as much as $600,000 on products, while other years it might be as little as $70,000. Regardless the amount, SHOT Show attendance always pays off.

      “SHOT for us is more about contacts. You make the right contact, it pays for that whole trip,” says Burton, as he explains how he knows that no matter what, his team will meet at least one person who is going to make them money. “We keep SHOT Show always in the back of our minds,” he says of the biggest day-to-day take-away from the annual event.

      About the Author
      Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for such storied publications as American Rifleman and Field & Stream. He has produced award-winning television programs on personal-defense and has hunted extensively in North America, Europe
      and Africa.

      The post Working the Show: Sportsman’s Loft — Minot, North Dakota appeared first on NSSF SHOT Show 2018.
      Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” will share how various successful retailers across the country plan for SHOT Week and what they’re looking to accomplish while they’re at the show. After the show, the series examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are ... See more
      See more on line
      Working the Show: Sportsman’s Loft — Minot, North Dakota