4 Ways To Capitalize on Waterfowl Season

When waterfowl season arrives hunters are geeked to hit the woods and get in the blinds. Here are four ways to get them into your store.

4 Ways To Capitalize on Waterfowl Season

When waterfowl seasons open in Canada and the Upper Midwest of the U.S., hunters in the southern half of the country either hit the road or sit home refreshing migration maps waiting for opening day.

That's the time you need to get hunters in your store to celebrate the upcoming season and stock up. Apparel, boots, waders, guns, ammo (yes, it's scarce) and accessories always are hot items. Take advantage of those and others to give your customers a smile and make your cash register work harder.

Here are four things you can do to make that happen:

Preseason Duck Days

Many years ago the Alabama Duck Calling Championship, like some other state and regional events, was held in an outdoors store parking lot. The crowd wasn't large but for a few hours they stood around watching the callers, enjoying some burgers and food, and many shopped for the sale items the store offered.

You don't have to have a calling contest but you can put on an event with calling exhibitions, maybe a Q&A session, gumbo or burgers, music, sales and more. Get a local brewery involved. Have a blowout day and make it a good one. Work with your reps on special deals, pricing and maybe appearances by well-known hunters.

Check your city or state's COVID-19 restrictions before making plans and advertising. You don't want to offer something only to be told it's not allowed at the moment.

Also, ask your customers what they'd like to see for the next event. they may have an idea or two you can incorporate. They're your most valuable partners for feedback so don't ignore them.

Gun Cleaning, Repair

Make sure customers know your staff will be ready throughout the entire season to take care of shotguns and then make that a priority in your store.

Hunters are pros at creating jammed guns, having firing pin problems, or suffering issues with mud and gunk. They might be able to dunk a Remington 870 and shake out the water to get it firing, but sometimes guns quit working. Be ready for them this season.

Sale! Sale! Sale!

Make waterfowl a focal point somewhere in your store, whether it's a giant display, half an aisle or something fun like "The Fowl Corner" with decoys hanging from the ceiling. 

My personal experience with shopping is if something's big enough to hoot 'n ballyhoo, don't make me look around for part of it. I don't want to find A, B, C, D and E in one location but have to go search for F and G. Sometimes that may not be possible, like hanging waders with calls and ammo. But if you can, make it easy for the shopper.

Make sure bright signs point the way to the waterfowl blowout area. Stick it in the back of the store, too. Why? To get your customers into the store so they'll see other items.

Sell Cleaning Kits, Supplies

When I was a kid my father would spray a healthy shot of WD-40 on an old rag, wipe down his Smith & Wesson-branded 12-gauge pump shotgun and put it away until the next hunt or when the season ended.

I'm not into ultrasonic cleaning of every screw, spring and gizmo but I give my firearms a more through cleaning now. They get a coat of Seal 1 protectant at first, and I make sure to wipe down everything after a hunt. When the season ends, inside and out gets a good cleaning.

What you can do is have an "End of Season Gun-Cleaning Blowout" and sell cleaning supplies. Start now working with your reps for an order of solvents, brushes and whatever else is necessary. Maybe get cleaning towels with your name, website and logo on them. Buy a bazillion at pennies and give them away, or sell them for a dollar each. 

Plan this late-winter event as a season-ending party like the one you did to kick off the season. Maybe even have a story-telling or "Best Liar!" contest with awards to each. Make it fun and generate some sales. 


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