2020 Hunting Retailer Show Recap

The first Hunting Retailer Show, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, was a success. If you didn’t make it, here’s what you missed.

2020 Hunting Retailer Show Recap

The 2020 Hunting Retailer Show, held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, on March 9-10, represented the debut of the new trade show.

The idea for the show was born in 2019, when Jeff Bruss, president of COLE Expos and COLE Publishing, which owns Grand View Outdoors, identified a need for a hunting-specific trade show.

“I’d been to multiple shows over the past few years, and they were either not targeting the hunting market at all, or they were specifically targeting one type of hunter,” he said. “The hunting industry is much more than just guns and archery equipment, and we wanted to showcase it all. Even more disappointing are outdoor shows that don’t include the hunting market at all, concentrating solely on the camping, climbing, hiking, biking side of things. Hunting is a strong market, and we intend to proudly represent that through this show.”

COLE Expos, with 40 years of trade show management, teamed up with Grand View Outdoors’ business-to-business titles (Hunting Retailer, Shooting Sports Retailer, Tactical Retailer, Recreational Retailer, Bait & Tackle Business and Archery Business) to promote and launch the event.

“Our brands, teams, audience and content lanes all live and breathe in this hunting community,” said Derrick Nawrocki, President and Publisher of Grand View Outdoors. “One of our main goals for this show was to provide an engaging and valuable face-to-face opportunity for the B2B hunting community to get together and gain ground. Operating any business in today’s environment can be extremely challenging. We understand that and plan to leverage our media platform and trade show expertise to drive this show forward and make it a must-attend event for exhibitors and retailers alike.”

Aside from the normal challenges inherent to a first-year launch, the Hunting Retailer Show also faced external complications: a tornado devastated parts of Nashville just a week before the show, and fears of the spreading Covid-19 virus kept some attendees and other participants away. The IWA show in Germany, scheduled to overlap the Hunting Retailer Show, actually postponed their entire event due to virus fears.

Nevertheless, the Hunting Retailer Show went on, with about 40 exhibitors. In addition to the opportunity to place orders, make contacts, collect leads and ink contracts, participants reported that they enjoyed the amount of one-on-one time they were able to experience with dealers, media and even fellow exhibitors. “I spent 30 minutes talking in-depth with one exhibitor,” a retailer reported. “You just don’t get that kind of time and interaction at the huge shows.”



The show also offered a variety of educational seminars that were very informative and well-attended.

On Monday morning, Whitney Johnson, who works at the family-owned Danville Outdoors LLC in Danville, Ohio, gave a seminar on meeting the needs of female customers. She identified four primary categories of women who will walk into your store and shared information on how to meet each category’s needs as well as how to identify which category a given shopper might fall into. Whitney’s three big takeaways were:

  1. Never make assumptions about what a woman is looking for.
  2. Pink is not a strategy. Focus on fit and usability.
  3. A gender-balanced sales staff is ideal if you’re able to achieve it (understanding that this isn’t always possible).


Also on Monday morning, Boston-based patent attorney Gary Lambert gave an excellent talk on trademark, patent and copyright law. (Click here to watch his seminar.) He was a wealth of free legal information about how to obtain a trademark, what a trademark and patent does and does not allow you to do, and what is considered infringement. A couple of Gary’s big takeaways:

  1. In trademark law, first use rules the day. If you trademark something and it turns out another company has been using that phrase or design longer than you in a similar manner, their “first use” generally wins over your trademark.
  2. To get a patent, your idea must be “novel” and “not obvious,” and a utility patent is better than a design patent, although it’s harder to get.
  3. A composition (piece of writing or music, a photo, website content) is copyrighted the moment you create it, but you can only protect your copyright if you register it.
  4. Never send a cease-and-desist letter.
During the 2020 Hunting Retailer Show, patent attorney Gary Lambert provides advice on a wide variety of trademark, patent and copyright topics.
During the 2020 Hunting Retailer Show, patent attorney Gary Lambert provides advice on a wide variety of trademark, patent and copyright topics.

Before lunch on Monday, Audience Sherpa founder Tim Glomb gave a seminar on building and managing your database. With social media turning into a pay-to-play platform, Tim described social media as “A nice-to-have, not a must-have,” and shared that email outperforms social media by 180 percent.

Tim shared the example of Bowtech and how that company now values its data higher than they value their physical manufacturing facilities. “They’re no longer a manufacturer,” Tim said. “They’re data managers.” Tim also shared simple methods that dealers can use to grow their database through surveys and giveaways, reminding listeners that, “Your database is the ultimate focus group.”


Eric Wille gave a Monday-afternoon seminar about retail and point-of-sale (POS) technology. He spoke about the pros and cons of an on-premises versus a cloud-based system, why you should consider upgrading your POS system, or why you should invest in one if you’re not already using one. The ideal POS system can improve your retail operations by: 

  1. Trimming excess labor that was once dedicated to managing inventory
  2. Keep you up to date on exact inventory numbers
  3. Offer better reporting across multiple stores or locations
  4. In some cases, the right POS system can integrate with the eNICS and e4473 systems for e-signatures and e-storage.


On Tuesday morning, William Napier of the National Shooting Sports Foundation gave a seminar on securing your store. The NSSF runs a number of programs that can help you as a retailer prevent theft by complying with ATF regulations, training your staff in security measures, making your range OSHA compliant, and designing and implementing general security measures. Some of William’s takeaways:

  1. Check out www.operationsecurestore.org for an FFL Risk and Security Self-Assessment you can take to determine where you need to improve your security.
  2. Visit www.nssf.org/safety/suicide-prevention to learn how to talk to people about firearms suicide prevention and even what to do if a tragedy occurs in your store.
  3. Take a look at dontlie.org for information about how to spot a straw purchase and what to do if you suspect one. Remember: You have the right to deny any firearms purchase for any reason whatsoever, and you do not have to be able to articulate why.


Later Tuesday morning, Chris O’Hara from Bonnier Corp. gave a lecture on Successful Exhibitor Sales & Marketing Strategies to help retailers get the most of our their attendance at consumer shows. His key points:

  1. Your goal as an exhibitor is to market your store and move product – new product as well as old, clearance and discontinued merchandise.
  2. Maximize your reach by promoting your participation in the show, local advertising, giving out show offers that can be redeemed in-store, and utilizing manufacturer and your own store’s pro-staffers.
  3. Use your time at the show to create new relationships with sales reps, find new manufacturers and distributors, find new speakers or store pro-staffers, and form relationships with other like local business (such as the local ATV or truck dealership).


Finally, Tuesday afternoon’s seminar was by Nathan Dudney, who spoke about the rise of world-class manufacturing in the firearms and munitions industry. For a very long time, guns and ammunition were essentially manufactured the same way. When the Japanese auto manufacturers started introducing new manufacturing techniques in the 1960s through the 80s, things began to shift. When the economy tanked in 2008, many of the top auto manufacturing managers and machinists were looking for work at a time when the firearms industry was selling more guns than they ever had, thanks to President Obama's “greatest gun salesman of all time” reputation. That allowed some of the gun and ammo manufacturers to pick up manufacturing experts from the auto industry, and in turn, production began to shift to things like LEAN manufacturing and the 5 S method. Automation increased and we saw advances in standards.

Attendees of the 2020 Hunting Retailer Show enjoying one-on-one time with exhibitors.
Attendees of the 2020 Hunting Retailer Show enjoying one-on-one time with exhibitors.

Exhibitors and Attendance

Though coronavirus fears did keep some attendees and even a few exhibitors away, the overall vibe of the show was very positive, with exhibitors enthusiastic about the business they were able to get done and eager to return to the show in 2021.

The exhibitor list showed a wide variety of products and services, with software companies like Celerant, Coreware, AmmoReady and TriTechRetail.com; archery companies like Spot-Hogg and T-Bird Archery, tactical-leaning companies like ATN and EOTech, traditional hunting brands like Kenetrek Boots and Alpine Innovations, distributors like Sports South and Davidsons, and some newer, smaller brands like Hunter’s Blend Coffee and Zone Repellants — as well as many more.

Dates and location for the 2021 Hunting Retailer Show are being determined as we speak. Keep an eye on this magazine and our websites, www.huntingretailer.com  and www.huntingretailershow.com, for updates. We hope to see you at the even bigger and better 2021 show.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.