When there is a downturn in any industry, it never hurts to "return to the core." In sales of firearms to the law-abiding public, the self-defense market is the strongest core. Surveys show more people buy firearms to protect themselves and their families than for any other purpose.
Self defense, quite simply, equals survival. Thus, we shouldn't be surprised when money becomes tight or sales turn downward for other reasons in this industry, defensive firearms will be the last to be affected. To the benefit of the retailer, there is a much broader demographic of customers (urban, younger, female) now than there was eight years ago.
Concealed Carry Growth
More private citizens are now legal to carry loaded and concealed weapons in public today than ever before. Thirty years ago, there were seven states where there was no provision for a private citizen, as opposed to a police officer or licensed armed security guard, to carry a concealed handgun in public. Today, all seven of those states are "shall issue." In more states than not, concealed carry permits were distributed on a "may issue" basis three decades ago, which granted great arbitrary discretion to the issuing authorities. Now, only a few states still follow "may issue" and the majority has gone with the reform model of "shall issue"--requiring those authorities to grant permits to all law-abiding applicants or show good cause for why not.
Recently, we've seen the expansion of the Vermont model of permit-less carry. For most of the 20th century, Vermont was the only state that didn't demand a permit to carry a loaded, concealed handgun in public, but merely forbade convicted felons or those adjudicated mentally incompetent to do so. In the 1990s, Alaska became the second state to go this route. Then came Arizona. Of late, we've seen many more, and we're now into more than a dozen states with what some call Constitutional Carry.
All these trends have more good people carrying guns--and in need of a shop like yours at which to buy them, including all the necessary accessories.
A Different Type Of Wardrobe
The new concealed carrier basically needs to address three wardrobes: one of concealment clothing, concealment holsters and concealable firearms.
Some gun shops have found concealment garments such as vests (think brands like CCW Breakaways) to be small but reliable profit centers. A much more natural "wardrobe line" for a gun shop, of course, is holsters. IWB...