This monthly interactive series opens the lines of communication and allows industry members and the archery community to explain and discover what’s working – and what’s not – to help build thriving businesses. Previous editions focused on industry issues, sales and marketing.
Retailers work the front lines of the archery industry – selling equipment, interacting with customers and ensuring participants have a positive experience with archery and bowhunting. They are the heart of the industry.
The ATA recently caught up with four retailers to see how the 2017 busy season was progressing. This month we spoke to:
-Cade White, owner of Alabama Archery Academy in Atmore, AL
-Aaron Beverly, owner of Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc. in Coeburn, VA
-Zack Harless, owner of Anthem Archery LLC in Decorah, IA
-Gary Hintz, owner of Bucks and Bulls Archery in Stevens Point, WI
1. How’s the 2017 busy season treating you so far?
The ATA recently caught up with four retailers to see how the 2017 busy season was progressing: Alabama Archery Academy, Beverly's Gun Archery and Pawn Inc, Anthem Archery LLC, and Bucks and Bulls Archery. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: We’re a new shop. We had our grand opening in January, so this is our first full bowhunting season. I worked at a different archery shop before I started this adventure. The biggest change I’ve noticed is most serious bowhunters are coming in earlier than they have before. We saw a lot of bowhunters start preparing in June and July, rather than in September. We still have guys who come in the week before the season opens, but for the most part, people are getting ready earlier. A lot of them are going on out-of-state hunts to prolong their seasons.
AB/Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc.: I would say so far, it’s below average.
ZH/Anthem Archery: Business has been steady so far. We usually have a nice afternoon rush and Saturdays are busy.
GH/Bucks and Bulls Archery: I have been the owner of Bucks and Bulls Archery for five years now, and I love it. This year is treating us well. I’m excited about the number of customers we have who are eager to learn.
2. Have you noticed an increase (or decrease) in sales? Any speculation as to why?
"We’ve noticed a decrease in archery sales," mentioned Aaron Beverly, owner of Beverly's Gun Archery and Pawn Inc. "A Cabela’s and a Bass Pro Shop opened close to us, so that has hurt some. I’d say we’ve had less customers in the store, because people are buying on the internet. Our internet sales have increased, but not particularly pertaining to archery; we own a pawn shop, too." Photo Credit: Beverly's Gun Archery and Pawn Inc.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: We have had a good number of bow sales since the grand opening, but we are starting to see a more rapid incline in sales now that bowhunting season is around the corner. We’ve had a lot of casual customers walk in and purchase equipment.
AB Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc.: We’ve noticed a decrease in archery sales. A Cabela’s and a Bass Pro Shop opened close to us, so that has hurt some. I’d say we’ve had less customers in the store, because people are buying on the internet. Our internet sales have increased, but not particularly pertaining to archery; we own a pawn shop, too.
ZH/Anthem Archery: I have not owned the shop long enough to know if things have really slowed down. We have a few more bows to move before the new ones are released, but accessories have been selling very well.
GH/Bucks and Bulls Archery: We’ve had a lot of new customers this year since some businesses closed nearby.
3. What are your top-selling items this year?
Some of the top selling items come from bow sales. Gary Hintz, owner of Bucks and Bulls Archery replied, "We also service bows, fix equipment and sell a lot of archery equipment." Photo Credit: Bucks and Bulls Archery.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: We’ve sold a good variety of items, overall. My best-selling bow-line is Hoyt. Our best-selling arrow rest is the QAD HDX. Our best-selling sight is the new CBE SL-4. I think I’ve sold about 30 of them this year. I do a lot of repair work, like replacing strings for older bows and such, but I’ve noticed a lot of people come in wanting to set up their old bow and actually end up buying a new one. The economy upturn probably has something to do with it.
AB/Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc.: The Raymond crossbow is a good seller for us - so is the new Rage Trypan and the new Mathews Halon 32.
ZH/Anthem Archery: Arrows. We sell a lot of arrows and broadheads.
GH/Bucks and Bulls Archery: We service bows, fix equipment and sell a lot of archery equipment. This year, the top seller is the Ravin Crossbow. The Ravin has a R9 and R15. They have a long stop and very small limbs, but they shoot very fast. We also are selling a lot of Mathews Halon bows and the new Mathews Halon 32. The Halon bows are great and built very well. They shoot smooth, too.
4. Please describe your in-store foot traffic.
Cade White, owner of Alabama Archery Academy stated, "We have an equal mix of adults and children. We first started our business as an Academy, but did a few things right that opened the door for us to become a full-line retail archery shop. It has paid off. Our youth program and recreational archers keep us busy during the bowhunting off-season.” Photo Credit: Alabama Archery Academy.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: We have an equal mix of adults and children. We first started our business as an Academy, but did a few things right that opened the door for us to become a full-line retail archery shop. It has paid off. Our youth program and recreational archers keep us busy during the bowhunting off-season, and when that traffic dies down during summer, the bowhunting traffic picks up. It works out well for us.
AB/Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc.: Our traffic flow is probably medium. It’s been slower than it has in the past. We see more adults that frequent the store, probably ages 23 and up. We run some Facebook ads and contests to attract the younger crowd.
ZH/Anthem Archery: I would say traffic is steady. We are fortunate to have a large bowhunting crowd in our area. Our clientele ranges from teenagers to seniors.
GH/Bucks and Bulls Archery: Traffic is non-stop right now. We have adults and children ready to participate in archery. Most of the time if an adult comes in, their children want to get involved and if the child comes in, the adult wants to get involved. People are coming in for new bows and crossbows. The kids want to practice and learn to shoot.
5. What are your concerns, if any, for the upcoming months?
Zack Harless, owner of Anthem Archery stated, "Once deer season is over, the challenge will be to keep customers in the shop. We’ll run leagues in our range as soon as the season ends and possibly start a program with local schools to get youth more involved in our sport," in response for concerns to the upcoming months.Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: The availability of archery items being sold online really hurts the retail side of things. Another thing that bothers me is the used bow market. If a customer buys a bow for $1,000 and they sell it the next year for $600, it’s underpriced. Flagship bows don’t lose much value in one year and are worth more than that. The archery economy loses money from used bow sales.
AB/Beverly’s Gun Archery and Pawn Shop Inc.: We haven’t hit peak time for us. I hope that traffic and sales increase from what it is now. Also, I guess my generation is different than the younger generation, because it seems like most of them strictly depend on the internet as their source of getting things. That makes it difficult for retailers, but we’ll continue to make customer service our priority.
ZH/Anthem Archery: Once deer season is over, the challenge will be to keep customers in the shop. We’ll run leagues in our range as soon as the season ends and possibly start a program with local schools to get youths more involved in our sport.
GH/Bucks and Bulls Archery: The only concern I have is online sales.
6. Anything else you’d like to mention about what’s happening in retail now?
"This is a margins game that can quickly get out of control. Strategic purchasing is a center focus for me as a new owner. We want to be able to offer our customers the best equipment money can buy at a premium price," stated Zack Harless, owner of Anthem Archery. Photo Credit: Anthem Archery Shop.
CW/Alabama Archery Academy: I know retailers who get mad when they’re asked to work on a bow that wasn’t bought from their store, including customers who buy used bows. Archery shops should work on older equipment to build customer relationships, because when that customer decides to get a new bow, they’ll buy from them. The archery industry likely loses participants if customers have a hard time at their local shop. Like most things, if they have a great experience the first time they do something, they’ll likely continue to pursue it.
The industry also needs to push the recreational part of archery just as much as they do bowhunting. It makes sales possible year-round. In my 17 years of archery experience – of course I’m only 21 – I've never met anyone who dislikes shooting a bow. It seems everyone enjoys archery to some degree. The industry will prosper from all types of archery. We need to let people know they can compete in archery their entire lives. I believe that gets every man, woman and child who has a competitive bone in their body interested.
ZH/Anthem Archery: I know that there are a lot of small shops like mine that are having a hard time. This is a margins game that can quickly get out of control. Strategic purchasing is a center focus for me as a new owner. We want to offer our customers the best equipment money can buy at a premium price. An archery pro shop is so much more than just another store. Our customers choose to spend money with us, not because we have the cheapest prices, but because we offer tips and advice on the equipment we sell. We also offer advice on how to be a more successful archer or bowhunter. I want our customers to walk out the door with the best equipment and the knowledge to find success.
If you have questions or want to voice your concerns, please contact the ATA’s business office at (866) 266-2776 or (507) 233-8130.