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Successful retailing secrets—part 3

What does it take to run a successful archery pro shop? Come along as we step into some shops that have stood the test of time.

L.L. Cote in Errol, NH, has been around for 26 years. What started off as a small store has grown immensely. L.L. Cote is different from most archery retailers—it is much more than simply a place to go and buy gear. “We are a destination store,” Archery Manager Jamie Woodward says. “We not only sell archery and hunting gear; we are a lumber yard, gas station, and Subway restaurant. In addition, we carry ATVs and snowmobiles. We are located in a small town of 250 people, [but] being a destination store allows us to draw most of our customers from the surrounding towns.”

The store encompasses 50,000 square feet. A solid 45,000 square feet of that is retail space. The archery department is about 10,000 square feet and houses eight shooting lanes. The store has about 35 employees (full and part-time). “Don Young is one of our ‘go-to’ bow technicians; he is in charge of online sales,” Woodward said. “Gage Shufelt is another bow technician. Vicky Cote works in the archery department and does some of the merchandising. These are the key people in the archery department. When things are really busy, we also rely on our pro staff to help in the store.”

AB: What are some specific keys to your success?

L.L. Cote: Our vast selection of products separates us from others. Many of our customers come from hours away. We make sure we have almost everything customers would want or need at a good price. We stock higher-end gear that people can’t find anywhere else. We stock ladies’ bows and left-handed bows customers can’t find elsewhere.

AB: What are some hard lessons that have made you a better dealer?

L.L. Cote: One hard lesson all dealers have to learn is to take care of customers, regardless of where they bought their bow. We service several bows that weren’t bought here. However, taking care of the customers keeps them coming back.

AB: How do you work at growing your customer base? What works best? What keeps customers?

L.L. Cote: We do social networking with Facebook. We send out e-mails to customers informing them what is going on in the store. Since people come here from everywhere, we need to stay connected with them and these avenues allow that to happen.

AB: What new products are you excited about selling? Why?

L.L. Cote: The Prime bows by G5 are selling very well. I think it is because of the new technology on those bows. There hasn’t been anything earth-shattering in bow technology for a few years and people are really liking the technology on the Prime bows.

AB: What have you learned about operating in today’s economy?

L.L. Cote: With the bad economy, we have noticed people aren’t traveling as much. If the customer can’t come here, we go to them by sending out e-mails and directing them to our website.

AB: Any tips for new dealers on achieving longevity?

L.L. Cote: New dealers need to realize their service is worth something. They should never give it away. Charge a good price for it off the bat. If you don’t, you will have a hard time increasing prices down the road.

AB: What are some of your archery industry pet peeves? Why?

L.L. Cote: I wish all bow companies would introduce their new bows at the ATA Show. When they introduce new models mid-year or in the fall, it makes it difficult to sell through the prior seasons’ bows. I think it might hurt retailers and manufacturers. When hunters hear something new is coming out, they wait to buy until it is available.

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