Clearly, most customers walking in the front door of a gun shop are there for the guns. But it doesn't mean there isn't a serious bit of business to be done on the edges of this market. Handguns, for example, need holsters, mounted lights, red dots, grips, night sights, self-defense ammo, extra magazines, cleaning supplies and suppressors --to name a few. These goodies give customers a chance to have a little fun with the guns they've just purchased, or already own.
And at a time when guns sales are slowing down, these extras may offer shop owners an opportunity to capture additional revenues.
"When you pile on accessories, you can really build your ticket. A $500 gun becomes a $1,000 sale," said Casey Hite, owner of Gun Dog Armory in Ocoee, Fla.
Hite estimates about 85 percent of his business is based on self-protection sales. And roughly two-thirds of his handgun customers end up buying extras to go along with their primary purchases.
"Lights and lasers are a big part," Hite shared. "It's like the wheels and rims on a car. People are always looking for ways to customize."
Hite emphasized customer service is an important part of the equation. With lights (brands include TRUGLO, Stream-light and SureFire) it's a matter of helping the customer find the right option--for their budget and needs.
"Do we all want Ferraris? Of course. Can we all afford Ferraris? Of course not," he quipped.
The store also does a healthy business in night sights, with popular brands like Trijicon, AmeriGlo and Meprolight. He estimates, for example, seven of 10 GLOCK buyers add a set of night sights--which are installed free-of-charge by one of the store's gunsmiths.
RED DOT DOOST
Across town at East Orange Shooting Sports, in Winter Park, Fla., the shop has noticed an increase in sales of red dot sights for handguns. Owner John Ritz says it's a trend being fueled, at least in part, by manufacturers offering more models designed to be used with optics --guns like the GLOCK MOS, Springfield Armory's XD(M) OSP and the FNX-45 Tactical.
"Most people still view firearms as recreational objects," Ritz said. "The red dot sitting on top makes it more interesting for people."
The store offers several options, including C-MORE, Trijicon and DeltaPoint. But are customers willing to spend half the price of a polymer gun on a red dot sight?
It's not something that bothers the more experienced shooters who tend to make these types of purchases, said store...