I’ve just returned from a gun dealer show on the east coast. The experience served to motivate me to write about what it’s like to be a woman in this industry because wrongheadedness seems to reign supreme:
- Dealers do not know how to sell to women.
- Amended: most dealers do not know how to TALK to women. By most, I mean every one I have encountered. Maybe there’s a dealer in Vermont, or Montana, or Oregon who gets it, but I haven’t met him yet. They either take a fatherly or a know-it-all approach, both of which are condescending and annoying as hell.
- Dealers are neglecting half the population by not actively welcoming women. One dealer I met this weekend was bemoaning the tiny profit margin he had. I asked him how he marketed to women, and he said, “It takes too long to sell to women.” He reasoned that, in the time it took to answer a woman’s questions and instruct her in safe handling, etc., he could’ve sold a number of guns to men.
I predict that he will soon be another dealer who’s closed up shop, and that makes me sad because it doesn’t have to be that way. If dealers would stop thinking of shooting sports as exclusively a man’s domain they would be pleasantly surprised by the amount of sales that would result.
Yes, you do have to take some time to sell to women. The majority of women that I myself have encountered in the shop I manage are new to the sport, and they have questions. And guess what, this applies to all novices. Just because a customer’s got a penis it doesn’t mean he has an inherent understanding of the sport of shooting. Yeah, guns are phallic symbols but just because you have one it doesn’t mean you know how to use it.