CATERING TO THE High-End CUSTOMER: High-end customers are both a boon and a blessing. They think nothing of dropping substantial dollars on a classic or collectible gun, and they can add an order of magnitude to your bottom line.

Author:Boyles, Carolee Anita

At Shooter's World in Tampa, Fla., GM Bruce Kitzis has set up a "store within a store" for classic and collectible guns, where luxurious furniture and soft lighting create the illusion of a gentleman's personal gun room. When it comes to new guns, he said, catering to these customers is all about the details.

"We pride ourselves on providing the same service to everyone, whether the customer is spending $200 or $20,000," Kitzis shared. "But for the high-end customer, you need to be extra sensitive to details. You need to be a fantastic listener, as well as knowledgeable on the products they're looking for." This includes knowing about engraving patterns and everything about the gun that can be customized.

"Make sure you're attentive to their needs and wants, and take the time to show them all the options, because there may be a lot of options they don't know they want," Kitzis said. "I equate it to having a suit made: You can buy one off the rack, or you can go to a tailor and get fitted--the high-end customer wants theirs to be fitted."

Shooter's World also does a good bit of business in older, collectible guns.

"This customer is very astute," Kitzis observed. "He already knows what he's looking for. For this customer, it's all about making him comfortable and giving him the tools he needs and the time to really look at the gun to evaluate it."

It's also crucial to know your clientele, Kitzis emphasized.

"When I get in a gun, whether it's a 1911 or a beautiful old WWII Garand, I already know who I'm going to call to come look at it," he said. "It's important the customer feels like I'm looking out for him. He may not always want to buy the gun, but he sure appreciates the call when I have something I think he'd like to see." It's more like calling a friend than trying to sell something, Kitzis added.


Johnny Dury is one of the owners of Dury's Guns in San Antonio, Texas. He said high-end customers --those who purchase what he calls "investment" guns--represent only a tiny fraction of his overall customer base. What they spend, however, far outpaces any of his other customers, and it's not always in terms of traditional sales.

"For instance, I just sold $173,000 worth of guns for one guy," he shared. "The buyer purchased them directly from the seller, and I just made a commission on them. That $173,000 didn't go through my register, only the $17,000 in commissions."

Dury considers any gun more than $5,000 is a high-end...

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