Many of you will be stocking up for a promising new retailing season at the upcoming trade shows — and some of you have already gotten a nice head start, a great example being the Mathews Retailer Business Show that was held Dec. 10 to 12 in Wisconsin Dells. Not to be outdone, Archery Business has "reloaded" for the future as well.
We've worked hard to find a talented new Dealer Advisory Board that will begin sharing its retailing wisdom in the March/April 2014 issue, when it will offer thoughts and opinions on some of the very best new gear of the year. This annual "Best of the Best" roundup is one of the most-anticipated features we publish all year long — ultimately, helping fellow pro shops make some potentially difficult decisions a bit easier.
Still another exciting new development is the addition of fellow bowhunting/gear nut Jace Bauserman to the full-time Archery Business staff. As associate editor of both Archery Business and sister publication Bowhunting World, Bauserman — formerly a regular contributor to both titles — is eager to file in-depth reports on our industry's most-exciting new gear, as well as uncover the "formulas for success" for some of the industry's finest companies and retailers.
Our new Dealer Advisory Board includes some of the nation's most-savvy businessmen, one of them the widely respected Len Marsh. The owner of Maryland-based Macrotech pro shop is a regular seminar speaker at the ATA Trade Show — mainly because he has a knack for making his many customers wildly happy while simultaneously turning a nice profit — all using his entertaining, "tell-it-like-it-is" style that regularly helps fill both his shop aisles, and his seminar seats. When Marsh speaks, people listen.
Father-son team William and Nathan Reider are co-owners of Xtreme Archery based in York, PA, and they've come a long way in a relatively short time span. One of the Archery Business Dealers of the Year in 2013, Xtreme benefits from savvy business acumen (Nathan holds an MBA degree) and strong shooting/bowhunting knowledge. Proof of Xtreme's strong growth is the shop's planned move this spring to a much-larger space; the team is currently looking to leave its current 5,000-square-foot location for a nearby, 20,000-square-foot superstore headquarters.
Rick Hellums, 53, is the owner of Alabama-based Archery Unlimited, an Archery Business Dealer of the Year in 2008. In March Hellums will celebrate his 14th year in business, and even with that serious longevity he admits 2013 held its share of retailing challenges.
"We started off in January  super-strong, and sometime around July or August the wheels just kind of stopped turning; it lasted about a month and half," Hellums recalled, quickly relating that his shop made a nice recovery by fall, and when contacted in early December 2013 he expected his shop to finish the year 8 to 10 percent ahead of 2012. Not bad for a pro shop with virtual next-door neighbors that include a Bass Pro Shops and Academy Sports — but then Hellums has fostered a unique relationship with his big-box competition.
Hellums actually trained in the archery team at Academy Sports, and during the busy season he gets daily calls from both big box stores hoping to appease customers looking for certain pieces of gear.
"You have to welcome [big boxes], become friends with them, but it certainly made me step back and take a new look at things, and it's changed the way I operate. We've grown since they've been here, and they've given me back more than they've taken. We used to be huge in clothing, but now we just do ScentBlocker, and we've added bow lines that [help us compete]."
Another Dealer of the Year alum, Class of 2006 member Wayne Piersol, 52, has just completed a stellar year at his 26-year-old, California-based Archery Only shop. Piersol finished 2013 an impressive 21 percent over his shop's highest-grossing year ever, which he attributed to the shop's longevity and solid reputation — but also to the exploding recreational archery market that comes courtesy of the recent "archery mania" fostered with the help of television and Hollywood movies. Many of the shop's newest customers are young and seriously archery-inspired, but Piersol did the work to ensure his 5,600-square-foot shop — run with help from seven employees — would capitalize on it.
Personally, I'm eager to hear much more from this talented new board in the months ahead — especially to learn how their diverse locales and client bases impact their successful retailing strategies. Welcome aboard, one and all!