Doing More for Firearms Dealers

Growth and development help Kinsey’s become the go-to distributor for retailers with a core hunting focus.

Doing More for Firearms Dealers

Kinsey’s has grown into a full-service, one-stop distributor for many retailers, but the company’s roots go all the way back to Vernon Kinsey’s home in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. Vernon had a passion for archery and fixed friends’ bows and equipment in his spare time. 

After an accident left him paralyzed in 1952, Vernon left his job and opened a retail store.

Over the years it grew substantially, eventually branching into distribution after Vernon’s son Jim Kinsey came on board. The company is still owned within the same family — now fourth generation — and has grown into a full-service, four-season distributor serving dealers in archery, firearms, ammunition and a large assortment of general outdoor and hunting products. 

This year, Kinsey’s is celebrating its 70th year in business, and Shooting Sports Retailer recently caught up with Justin Gorman, the VP of sales and marketing, to talk about the company’s focus, growth and future.

MSW: How does being a family-owned business impact company culture and operations?

Gorman: One of the greatest benefits of being family owned is the flexibility and lack of red tape. If we identify a change is needed, we can very quickly adapt and execute on a new direction. As a company this keeps us nimble within the market. From a cultural prospective, it really creates a unique advantage. We have the stability and infrastructure of a large company but we still have the atmosphere of a small family-owned business. I believe our employees truly enjoy and appreciate the best of both.


MSW: How have you adapted to the challenges of supply chain interruptions over the past couple years?

Gorman: Inventory has been a moving target for the past two years. We keep it simple and we stay nimble. Originally, we opened our buying windows up much larger. In some areas we were buying a year-plus in advance but as certain items have returned to a more normal status we have recalculated our approach. We are currently taking it vendor by vendor, item category by item category to ensure the highest in-stock rate possible while still making sound business decisions.

You never hit the nail on the head perfectly. We have some areas we are short and we have some items we need to move but overall, we really tried to stick to our core customer and make sure we were not chasing the market taking unreasonable risks.


MSW: How do you see the shooting sports industry evolving?

Gorman: Everybody talks about “the new normal.” A lot is yet to be determined but there is definitely a large number of new gun owners out there. We will still see our industry fight nonstop political battles but I am hopeful the industry has made a lot of new allies within the new-gun-owner base. As an industry we need to reach these new gun owners the best we can and create active participants as opposed to a lot of new guns sitting in peoples’ closets.


MSW: How do you determine what product lines you’ll carry?

Gorman: For us, archery has always been the base. You will continue to see us lead the industry in our archery assortment. We started distributing guns and ammo in 2019 right before everything broke loose. Even during the crazy times, we tried to remain focused on vendors and products that we felt served our core customer. A large majority of our focus is on products that support the well-rounded sportsman who is a hunter and, in many cases, uses both archery and firearms. We carry a selection of tactical and general shooting items but we feel we are the perfect distributor for any shop that has a core hunting focus.


MSW: You’ve launched and acquired several brands over the past 15 years. How is working with your own brands different from all the other brands you carry?

Gorman: This can sometimes be a tricky road to navigate. We do have our own brands BlackHeart, Elevation, October Mountain Products, Alpine Archery, Fin-Finder, as well as OEM for many industry partners. Our brands work very hard to create unique products with the least amount of vendor overlap as possible. The industry has changed from 20 years ago. Almost all vendors went through distribution and some exclusively. As some vendor programs have changed over the years our in-house brands allow us to provide maximum benefit to dealers by pairing unique and margin rich items together with our standard distribution offerings.


MSW: Does Kinsey’s offer exclusives outside your in-house brands?

Gorman: We definitely do! We currently offer Kinsey Exclusives with Winchester, Weatherby, Savage and Fusion. As we continue to grow our assortment we feel the exclusives provide another reason to partner with Kinsey’s as they are only available through us. Our exclusive Weatherby Vanguard in 350 Legend will be available this year and has received a lot of pre-launch excitement.


MSW: You’ve more recently branched into firearms distribution. Is that a move to serve a broader clientele or to better serve existing customers?

Gorman: The answer is really both. When we were vetting the concept of entering the FFL market we were surprised to find out how many of our current accounts had “gun” in their business name. For the past 70 years we have been servicing these accounts but only for a portion of their business. As we expanded into firearms and ammunition we are now able to provide more of a full-service, one-stop shop for many dealers. 

In addition to bringing guns to our current customers we are also bringing archery to our new gun customers. There are many shops that previously did not have a specific archery distributor. Maybe they had an 8- or 10-foot section of archery, not enough to justify opening an account with an archery-only supplier. We can now service that dealer with a broader and more diverse selection to help them grow their archery presence. Bringing on guns actually allowed us to grow our archery. 


MSW: Tell us a little about what you’re doing in 2022 and beyond. What are you most excited about moving forward?

Gorman: We just completed a large warehouse merger project earlier this year. Our North (Pennsylvania) and South (Kentucky) warehouses are now fully integrated and merged onto one operating system. This took a majority of our focus the past year but as we have moved into a new phase of the project we will be putting a lot of our IT resources into website development. We have the infrastructure we now need built to effectively and efficiently deploy information to our dealers. We believe a dynamic website is the next best way we can bring greater value to our dealers.


MSW: What does a retailer need to do to begin working with Kinsey’s? Are there incentives or programs for new partners? Gorman: As a company, we are very promo-heavy. We put on an industry-leading trade show every year which has traditionally provided dealers with unheard-of booking windows. Guns and ammunition were booked through June 30 with archery and accessories being booked through August 1. Qualifying dealers who ordered archery and accessories on ASAP shipments received August 1 terms. 

Then from July forward, there is always a sales event, monthly flyer and weekly deals to keep new opportunities fresh in dealers’ mind — we focus on product-selection that is seasonally relevant for our dealers. With so many dealers participating in different categories we try to make each promo different so that at any one time we have items you may need on sale.  

All dealers need to do is visit to download an application.


MSW: Is there anything else you’d like to address?

Gorman: I think the final takeaway is, if you are a retailer focused on the sportsman and selling archery, firearms and general hunting products, then Kinsey’s is the perfect distributor partner for you. By combining our item assortment, sales incentives, in-house brands and annual dealer show, we bring a lot of unique value that many other distributor partners do not. 

Whether you are ready to sign up for a new account, or just interested in learning more about us, we look forward to hearing from you and showing you how we can provide value to your business.


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