Selling Fishing, Camping and Hiking Gear to Hunters

Most hunters also camp, fish, hike and participate in other outdoor recreational activities. All of that requires extra gear you should be selling.

Selling Fishing, Camping and Hiking Gear to Hunters

Let me know if you’ve heard this one before.

A hunter, target shooter, camper, hiker, kayaker, skier and photographer all walk into a bar.

The bartender looks over and says, “What can I get you, buddy?”

If you’ve been in business for any significant length of time, you’ve likely come to the realization that there are only three ways for you to make more money.

You can sell more to your existing customers, you can gain new customers and sell products and services to them, or, you can keep everything the same and raise your existing prices.

That’s it.

Of the three, the easiest method of increasing your revenue is, of course, to sell more to your existing customers who have shown that they already have a preference (regardless of if that was a single- or multiple-purchase customer) for buying from you and your business. Sure, you can sell an extra gun case, coat, shirt, magazine, box of ammunition, set of arrows, pocketknife, etc. to those customers — but how many times can you do that? One of the easiest ways to increase your spend per customer is to broaden the selection of products that you offer.


Hunters Do It All

Of all of the outdoor-related activities, hunters are likely the most diverse, especially when it comes to equipment. Think, for a moment, about all of the gear and equipment that is used for the average Western big game hunt.

First, every hunter needs a weapon — this is almost always a bow, crossbow or a firearm.

They also likely need accessories for that weapon, whether that be some sort of sight, scope, sling, carrier, etc. If they are hiking in, they will need a pack that can be used for carrying their equipment, food, and, possibly, the game they harvest. They need good, comfortable, sturdy boots that can take the abuse of days in the wilderness.

They need lightweight cooking gear. They need some sort of shelter or tent. These days, they are likely to use trekking poles. They need binoculars and a rangefinder. They need technical clothing that dries easily and can cover a multitude of climates — sometimes from below freezing to rain, to snow, to sunny days in the 80s. Now, more than ever, hunters use ATVs or UTVs to access remote areas and haul their camps, gear and game. Are you taking advantage of this new market?

And and on, and that’s just to hunt — and just for one trip.



While there are certainly many fishermen that do not hunt, it is a fair assessment that most hunters you know also do a bit of fishing.

According to the 2016 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services National Survey of Fishing Hunting and Wildlife Associated Recreation, approximately 58 percent of big-game-related expenditures were on equipment, which totaled $8.7 billion dollars. Hunting equipment — including firearms, ammunition, and bows and arrows — accounted for $4.3 billion or 50 percent of all equipment. Purchases of auxiliary equipment, such as tents and binoculars, totaled $1.1 billion.

That’s real money.

When surveyed, 67% of hunters said they also fish. Conversely, only 21% of anglers in the survey responded that they also hunt. That means hunting-related retailers have the opportunity to sell two-thirds of their customers something they are already buying anyway — but from someone else.

It also means that you, a reader of Hunting Retailer, have the greatest opportunity for broadening the amount and number of products that you can deliver to your happy customers. After all, they’re going to buy it from somewhere. Why not you?


Determining What Products to Carry

If you have a customer management software program, you can easily send out a survey or questionnaire to your customers that can isolate the perfect market for you to expand into. If not, have your staff ask people when they check out what other activities they participate in. Give three or four options and offer a small discount or prize drawing for a gift card to participate.

Another way to choose new products is to contact companies that you wish to do business with and ask for an appointment with their local representative, or contact representative groups in that market space for a strategy and planning meeting.

It is, literally, their job to help you choose the right and right numbers for product assortment!


The Pawn Shop Example

If you’ve ever walked inside a pawn shop, you know that they are masters of diversity.

Pawn shops typically buy and sell things of value — all kinds of things. They now almost always sell firearms, but also have hunting optics, jewelry, power tools and high-end electronics. Some have antiques. Though they usually have a specialty, it is the diversity of products that draws a wide range of customers. The key to not having an overflowing retail space, though, is in knowing your customers, understanding what they want, and knowing how much of it they are willing to buy.


“Lightly Used Gear”

For many of the newest brands of high-end, technical hunting equipment, some coats and boots can cost as much as a gun or a bow! Take advantage of that value and operate a gear exchange, consignment sale, or used product area in your store. More and more there are not just used firearms and archery equipment on the racks at the local outdoors store, but also technical apparel, hiking boots, and, yes, even high-end long underwear! Ideally, you want to offer store credit for these items, as that allows you to double-dip on the sale. You sell the used gear at a profit, then you sell the customer new gear at a profit. They are happy because they get a discount. You’re happy because they continue to buy with you. This can also set you apart from the competition, especially the big-box types, who tend to have a more transactional relationship with their customers (though, for the smart ones, this is already changing).


Product Suggestions

If you are slightly overwhelmed by the idea of crossing the lines between hunting and other outdoor activities, here are some basic product ideas for you to explore that are guaranteed to be of interest to your hunting clientele. You should tailor your assortment to your area. For example, if you have a hunting-related store in Missoula, Montana, you probably won’t sell a lot of saltwater or big-game fishing gear — but you sure will in Mobile, Alabama, or Tampa, Florida.

Fishing: Fly rods, fly reels, pack rods, spinning reels, bait-casting reels, fly line, fishing line, terminal tackle

Footwear: Mountain boots, hunting boots, hiking boots, socks, insoles

Camping: Tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp stoves, lanterns, lights, rope, backpacks

Paddlesports: Canoes, kayaks, paddles, life jackets, fish finders, vehicle racks

Bicycles: Mountain bikes, electric bikes, bicycle racks, trailers

ATV/UTV: Helmets, racks, spare tires, gun scabbards, tool kits, apparel, lights, winches, jacks


Accounting for Space

Space is finite. If you are an online-only retailer, you might have a lot of room in your warehouse. Obviously, if you only have a brick-and-mortar location and you continue to add to your inventory without expanding, you’ll eventually fill the store. The keys to solving this issue are to:

1. Choose only a few of the highest margin products that take little space.

2. Inventory a single item in several lines and offer a “deliver to your door” option for anything they want to purchase. This also allows you to have a special demo sale every year, giving people yet another reason to visit your store.

3. Utilize a distributor of products in this space or work with companies that offer ship-to-store or similar services.

For example, canoes and kayaks take up a lot of space. Service providers like Gearfire allow you to sell from thousands of different inventories on the web, some of which now is a touchless transaction. Old Town addresses the space issue by offering the ability to purchase their products online and ship to a local dealer at no cost to the customer.

The possibilities for your expansion are endless, so make sure you have a plan for growth in products, customers and sales.


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