May 29, 2012

Hello to all NEACA Members and Exhibitors,

June and summer time is just ahead, which can be a slow time for our gun business if you allow it. If you still need to see cash flow and profits, you should still consider advertising and summer promotions. Cathy and I always have a store sale around Father’s Day and one of my favorite promos is my "Going Out for Business Sale". Naturally, no one pays attention to the "for" and have to stop in!

That is what business is all about, though, simply being able to talk to people. Whether from an ad, a sign, word of mouth or however you get someone to stop in, anyway it works, gives you the opportunity to make your pitch. A good day in your shop is probably 20 – 30 people stopping by; a great day would be fifty or more. But, at a show you probably have ten times that number passing by your wares; at a great show – ten times the ten times!

And if you think about what an ad campaign costs on the radio or in the newsprint, the cost of a weekend show is minor. You may spend $500 or more for all your expenses – mine typically run $600 - $1000 for a weekend, some are much more. But you and I have the opportunity to make a very profitable sale occasionally: one that covers all the show and merchandise costs and still makes a profit. All others are the gravy. Though you must still talk and sell yourself and the product!

I’m going to let you know a little secret.   Customers buy from people they like. Years ago I trained salesmen and taught them how to "close", or make the sale. This past Clifton Park Show I sold fifteen guns that I made profit on plus a bunch of the table fodder that acts as the gravy. And I’ll probably sell another five or so from the show. I didn’t buy a single item but met with one person who has a pretty good collection I have to visit. I sell not because I am cheaper than everyone else or have better stuff; I sell because people want to buy from me. I even sell when a buyer knows he or she can get it cheaper at another store! It happened twice last week, before the holiday. One fellow told me he didn’t care if I was $10 higher than who he just left; he wanted to buy from me!

Is that how it is with your business? Or is business in general "just bad"? Or did our show "just suck?" Or was it actually the salesman behind the product – or the table? Think about what I just wrote – I used to get paid for this advice.

Now we have one more show to round out our spring fling, Utica. Our flyer is enclosed and you have the opportunity to make a good weekend of it or simply stay home and make nothing. I always do a good business at the AUD and it is an easy and pleasurable weekend. It would be nice if it rained on one of my show dates but I can almost guarantee fantastic, beautiful weather! It rarely fails. But we still get buyers and perhaps some nice item we all wish to buy walks in. I hope you can help and support this show – naturally, it is air conditioned with easy move in and out, probably one of the best. I’ve got a real good base for table sales now, but – we also need you!

Because of a little event like our 50th Wedding Anniversary coming on June 30th we’ll take the rest of June and all of July off from the show schedule and start again with Old Forge on August 4, 5 – which looks like it is going to be a pretty full show – expensive, but very enjoyable and most profitable. Again, I need your application in, check our web for any specials on rooms.

Then we have the end of August at Saratoga, flier enclosed August 25, 26; which will also be an expensive but profitable and enjoyable show. Folks still tell me it is the best show around and our August attendees are just great as buyers. Then on Labor Day weekend we again have our little show at the Ilion/Frankfort VFW Post 502 on Saturday September 1st, again with the trapper’s convention up on the hill in the fairgrounds. I did some pretty good business at the VFW last year.

Which brings us into our Clifton Park show in September. We had scheduled a date of September 22 & 23, which is a conflict with the Rochester Show and a show in Marlboro, Mass. The following weekend at the SportsPlex was already booked but we are managing a switch to the weekend of September 29 and 30 for our event. As of this letter it is 98% certain of that date so please re-mark your calendars for our next SportsPlex of Halfmoon Arms Fair.

Back full circle from my beginning of this letter – I hope you all had a good experience with this past spring show in Clifton Park. We had just over 300 tables and booths on the floor and just under 2000 people. Not the greatest of attendance but it grew from our first show there two years ago. The beautiful weather didn’t help. I firmly believe this show will develop into one of the best around, but it does take a little time to build the dealer base and the traffic. We will get a new flier prepared, some bill board advertising for a month or so ahead, more internet exposure and more radio ads out earlier for this next September Clifton Park Show. I hope we can count on you to return – it’s the only way we can build it – with returning exhibitors.

The people in the area who came to the show said it was the best show place they have ever been to; let’s keep those thoughts in the public mind- set by also having some of the best exhibitors they can buy from. Those were true and often heard statements from the people who were there and the same was heard at our April Cortland Arms Fair. If all the dealers who were there last October showed up we would have put 200 tables on the floor.

Last month at the McDonald Sports Complex the public was again enthusiastic with the show. More of them will come this October 5, 6 & 7 for our next Cortland event, which is also Columbus Day weekend and in conjunction with a huge old & new farm equipment and horse tack auction on Thursday then market place on Friday of the show, not to mention that Cathy’s birthday is Friday the 5th. Thousands of people are literally across the street from our Gun Show signs espousing our event the next day – some wanting to come in on Friday. You should be there too! Mark those dates on your calendar and send in your application.

October 12, 13, 14 is our Fall Saratoga Springs Arms Fair at the City Center; usually, not one to miss. We moved forward a week from last year which puts us better in the NYS Hunting Season calendar; deer season will be right around the corner and hunters need things! We always have a great line-up of shows each year and we have a fantastic buying public who attend our events. I realize each and every dealer doesn’t always do well but then he has his day the next time; just the nature of the business – or perhaps even the businessman. If I can help anyone in any way you all know I am always willing to try; don’t hesitate to ask. Have a great summer and we hope to see you all at the Utica Auditorium in Utica on June 8, 9, 10, 2012.

Good Hunting, Cathy & Dave (Fifty Years !!)