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I am 2+ years into my holster and gun leather business/hobby.  I seem to be running into the NFL stage (No Friends Left) and need to start selling to "strangers"..  I will be setting up at my first gun show in a couple months.  I plan on taking orders, mostly, but plan to have an assortment of holsters for example work.  I will be offering holsters, mag pouches, belts and slings.  Any ideas on how best to approach a show setting?  What pitfalls should I be aware of?  This is a pretty good show, overall, in that they don't allow non-gun/knife/military vendors in the show.  It's a pretty knowledgeable and driven group that comes in.  Thanks for the feedback!

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one table stack high go vertical don't let freeloaders tell you its cheaper over there,,,, let them go there,,, its a buyers flea market attitude,offer good info and build on your quality ....db

Clean no excess clutter, but have it there to show 

 

Edited by greystoneleatherllc
miss a letter

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Keep lots of water on hand. You will be doing a lot of talking. Be ready to pitch the sale and Close the sale.

I watched a fella at the last Maker's fare I worked clean up all day long. He was selling steak rubs. Boy he had that pitch down pat. He sold to 70-80% of people that gave him 3 minutes of their time.

I know that's not the gun market, but sales is sales. Know your product, give a story\info, make it so the person has a need only you can fulfill, and tell them for the money.

Good luck.

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kiwican   
On Saturday, August 05, 2017 at 10:53 PM, bikermutt07 said:

Keep lots of water on hand. You will be doing a lot of talking. Be ready to pitch the sale and Close the sale.

I watched a fella at the last Maker's fare I worked clean up all day long. He was selling steak rubs. Boy he had that pitch down pat. He sold to 70-80% of people that gave him 3 minutes of their time.

I know that's not the gun market, but sales is sales. Know your product, give a story\info, make it so the person has a need only you can fulfill, and tell them for the money.

Good luck.

I've been to a number of shows and bikermutt speaks true. I've watched people do the pitch and make money hand over fist while other selling the same product couldn't seem to sell water to a thirsty man. As near as I could tell based on the same product at the same price and in some cases slightly higher the difference was in the pitch. Slap chop vs shake weight! You decide

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I don't know how your gun show went, but I did my first one last December in Jackson, Mississippi.  Between the various holsters I made as "stock", the booth fee, and the banner, I MIGHT have broke even.  I took 3 custom orders and sold 1 holster.  Granted, I didn't have anything super sexy on the table.  But my personal observation was most people at this show like to window shop and most are looking to get something for nothing.  I might do another show next summer, but for me it isn't worth it.  It was weird because I was the only leather vendor there. 

Most people seemed more interested in the kydex booth where they'd make you a $15 holster on the spot.  

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Treed   

I have been doing gun shows for over 20 years...... The items that you will sell cost more to produce so they will sell for higher prices. To get the higher prices and to find the customers that want leather...... you have to have shows that draw larger numbers of customers. Most small shows under 500 tables will not draw the needed customers to find the ones will pay the price and will custom order.... 

Know your product and the other products that are being sold..... Be able to explain and talk about all the pros and cons of Kydex, nylon and leather.... Know whats at the show, if someone comes up and wants a holster but doesn't want to or can not afford to pay your price, don't undercut your self to make a sale...... know who at the show can fill his needs and send them to that vendor. It shows the customer that you are truly willing to help him even at the expense of losing a sale..... customer service.

Most leather holster makers can not compete with the cheap leather, kydex and nylon concealment holsters. Most customers are cheap and live in a throw away world..... They really do not want quality and something that lasts for generations. I make holsters that will last that long so I market to those customers.... the collectors. I tell people if you have a gun that you are going to keep and someday hand down you your kids or grand kids then one of my holsters is the trick otherwise go see this vendor or that one as they make great holsters. Work with the kydex and nylon holster makers as there are a great number of old revolvers and guns that they do not make holsters for. Sending them a little business will result in business coming your way...

Have on hand a few really high end products that can show your quality of workman ship and that will wow the customers. They will not sell that often but will draw in customers. I have some people who I have built great friendships as they stop by the booth every show to drool over the high end items. They have never bought anything but have sent friends and family to buy from me. A few high end products shows that you are serious about your trade and that you can provide quality items.

Find an area that is lacking.... In the northwest everyone is making concealment holsters.... they are a dime a dozen and vendors are stepping over them selves. What was lacking was holsters for the old revolvers, cowboy guns, the guy going to the range and out for day hikes. I dropped all the concealment except high end tooled holsters and refined my patterns and quality of production on these..... I came up with a few designs such as the M7 Tankers chest rig that no one else makes here..... I really got to know the products and used them so that I fully know the pros and cons...... I question my customers as to what they are doing with the gun and try to help them make an educated choice as to what they need to buy..... If I don't have the product or don't want to fill the order then I help them find a vendor that can help them.

Types of shows can make a big difference in making money and not. As I said earlier the size makes a big difference..... so does the frequency of the show. I am just as bad as everyone else in this regard. A gun show that happens every month, that is always there can put people off on an order. Well I just can't afford it this month so I will get it next month, next month comes and well i better wait until next month. It keeps getting put off but with the best intentions. I do some of these shows but only 3 or 4 times a year. I like and do better at the shows that they only have two or three a year. I don't do summer shows as the number of customers drop dramatically and the customer base is not there.

I have figured out that for the first year going to shows is not a real money maker..... Gun shows have a real distinction of vendors coming and going.... here today and gone tomorrow. If you buy something from a big name manufacture from a vendor and have a problem then you know who to go to. Custom leather does not have this luxury.... people want to know you are going to be a staple and there if they need you..... I have had people coming buy the booth and talking for over a year before they opened up they pocket books.... many of those pocket books are very deep.

This is just a few ramblings of an old man and there are may out there that will disagree with me and are much more knowledgeable than I am..... Leather work is not something that will make you rich in money but can be very rewarding in those friends that you make, in seeing the enjoyment that people get from your product. I strive for every one sale that I make it will return to me 4 to 5 sales in the years to come from friends and family of the customer. I really can get overly winded.....

Bobby

Edited by Treed

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8 minutes ago, Treed said:

I have been doing gun shows for over 20 years...... The items that you will sell cost more to produce so they will sell for higher prices. To get the higher prices and to find the customers that want leather...... you have to have shows that draw larger numbers of customers. Most small shows under 500 tables will not draw the needed customers to find the ones will pay the price and will custom order.... 

Know your product and the other products that are being sold..... Be able to explain and talk about all the pros and cons of Kydex, nylon and leather.... Know whats at the show, if someone comes up and wants a holster but doesn't want to or can not afford to pay your price, don't undercut your self to make a sale...... know who at the show can fill his needs and send them to that vendor. It shows the customer that you are truly willing to help him even at the expense of losing a sale..... customer service.

Most leather holster makers can not compete with the cheap leather, kydex and nylon concealment holsters. Most customers are cheap and live in a throw away world..... They really do not want quality and something that lasts for generations. I make holsters that will last that long so I market to those customers.... the collectors. I tell people if you have a gun that you are going to keep and someday hand down you your kids or grand kids then one of my holsters is the trick otherwise go see this vendor or that one as they make great holsters. Work with the kydex and nylon holster makers as there are a great number of old revolvers and guns that they do not make holsters for. Sending them a little business will result in business coming your way...

Have on hand a few really high end products that can show your quality of workman ship and that will wow the customers. They will not sell that often but will draw in customers. I have some people who I have built great friendships as they stop by the booth every show to drool over the high end items. They have never bought anything but have sent friends and family to buy from me. A few high end products shows that you are serious about your trade and that you can provide quality items.

Find an area that is lacking.... In the northwest everyone is making concealment holsters.... they are a dime a dozen and vendors are stepping over them selves. What was lacking was holsters for the old revolvers, cowboy guns, the guy going to the range and out for day hikes. I dropped all the concealment except high end tooled holsters and refined my patterns and quality of production on these..... I came up with a few designs such as the M7 Tankers chest rig that no one else makes here..... I really got to know the products and used them so that I fully know the pros and cons...... I question my customers as to what they are doing with the gun and try to help them make an educated choice as to what they need to buy..... If I don't have the product or don't want to fill the order then I help them find a vendor that can help them.

Types of shows can make a big difference in making money and not. As I said earlier the size makes a big difference..... so does the frequency of the show. I am just as bad as everyone else in this regard. A gun show that happens every month, that is always there can put people off on an order. Well I just can't afford it this month so I will get it next month, next month comes and well i better wait until next month. It keeps getting put off but with the best intentions. I do some of these shows but only 3 or 4 times a year. I like and do better at the shows that they only have two or three a year. I don't do summer shows as the number of customers drop dramatically and the customer base is not there.

I have figured out that for the first year going to shows is not a real money maker..... Gun shows have a real distinction of vendors coming and going.... here today and gone tomorrow. If you buy something from a big name manufacture from a vendor and have a problem then you know who to go to. Custom leather does not have this luxury.... people want to know you are going to be a staple and there if they need you..... I have had people coming buy the booth and talking for over a year before they opened up they pocket books.... many of those pocket books are very deep.

This is just a few ramblings of an old man and there are may out there that will disagree with me and are much more knowledgeable than I am..... Leather work is not something that will make you rich in money but can be very rewarding in those friends that you make, in seeing the enjoyment that people get from your product. I strive for every one sale that I make it will return to me 4 to 5 sales in the years to come from friends and family of the customer. I really can get overly winded.....

Bobby

Wow! Well said.

I don't have any interest in making gun holsters but its great to hear an expierenced leather worker talk...

Ive been in my trade for 40 years and all of the above makes sense to my business as would any sales business.

Its a credit to you for taking the time to explain it all here.

Thanks. 

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Dwight   

I've done several shows in the past, . . . and usually only do it when I'm bored.  

I'll make up a few belts, . . . typical holsters I sell, . . . and throw in a few "unique" pieces just for kicks and giggles.

I've actually sold as many of the "unique" pieces as I have the regular stuff, . . . and belts are simply for show.  The belts always seem to be the wrong size, or color for that particular person.

But I have gotten some good orders, . . . and some good exposure, . . . which never hurts.

Make sure as stated above,  . . .  you know YOUR product, . . .  and don't bad mouth the other guy that's cutting his leather with a chain saw, . . . using a baking oven to melt his kydex, . . . and fastening em with aluminum washers.   Next time you are there, . . . his cu

 

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Dwight   

(continued from above).......  Next time you are there, . . . his customers will give your product a better look, . . . they bought once for price, . . . and now that it is probably broken, . . . or otherwise almost unuseable, . . . they will be more demanding.

Always take the high road, . . . be the gentleman, . . . focus on the positive.

It pays great dividends.

May God bless,

Dwight

 

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Thanks, everyone (I've been off for a while).  I'm in the middle of my second show this weekend.  I bring belts and about 8-10 holsters.  The holsters stop them and I've made several sales, but the belts have been popular, I think as a "gateway".  Yep, a lot of "I'll call".  One did and bought 3 holsters, including the scrap holster I was going to throw in the sketch box (beats me...).  

The sales advice helps.  Some I knew already, other suggestions help to reinforce the mindset.

This show is VERY gun oriented, to the point the promoter threw out a couple guys shining shoes.  I generally have paid for the table within the first hour or so.  It seems like a long process, but it's getting me in front of people other than family and friends.

Thanks again, I'll keep you posted.

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Glad to hear it is going well for you.

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