Bringing in new stock, such as the pistols introduced this year, points up the question of what to do with last year’s models that are still on the shelves. There’s nothing wrong with a given pistol simply because a newer model has come out, but the desire for the latest and greatest can often cause customers to pass over earlier guns. So, what’s a retailer to do?
While there’s always lowering the price, you also see promotions such as throwing in a box of ammo or four to sweeten the pot — which is especially timely as ammo availability, while better, has yet to fully recover from the latest shortage. Store credit for accessories or range time also seems attractive, as is a free safety class or some similar instruction useful for those buying their first handgun. All of these things are ways to clear out the old stock, but it may be advantageous to hang onto it.
According to Steve Fishman of Augusta, Georgia’s Sidney’s gun store, it’s often wiser to keep older models on hand rather than move them at, or close to a loss, just to make room for newer guns. Older models are sometimes more desirable than the ones released later, and it’s common for customers to ask for them. For instance, while the 4th Generation Glocks are quite popular, there’s still a strong contingent that favor the 3rd Gen guns — as there was for the 2nd Gen guns when the 3rd came out. For another example, when is the last time you had someone ask for a post-’64 Winchester?
A greater reason, though, is that a personal protection handgun is an inherently personal item, and what works and feels good to one customer very well may not for another. The relatively subtle variations introduced at the change of a model year — a little grip thickness here, a different sight picture there — may very well be the difference between right and almost right for your customer.
Having the broadest selection available makes it more likely you can help a customer select the pistol that’s right for them, rather than steering them to what you have on hand. This sort of individualized service, of course, reaps its own rewards in terms of customer loyalty.