Why You Need to Sell Non-Lethal Defense Options

Not every defensive encounter requires a firearm. Give your customers options by stocking less-than-lethal self-defense gear.

Why You Need to Sell Non-Lethal Defense Options

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Firearms retailers traditionally specialize in selling firearms and ammunition to customers who are interested in owning and using gun for numerous reasons: hunting, target shooting, recreation and, of course, self-defense. However, as concerns about safety and personal security continue to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for a tactical retailer to also offer other options and, especially, adding non-lethal or less-than-lethal items for self-defense. In this article, we will explore the reasons why firearms retailers should consider selling less-lethal items for self-defense and the benefits that such items can offer to customers, as well as some suggestions as to what products to start with.

Increased Revenue

The top reason why firearms retailers should consider selling non-lethal items for self-defense should be obvious: It can provide an additional source of revenue. While firearms and ammunition will likely always be the primary products sold by tactical retailers, they also tend to be high-priced items that can be intimidating or even unattainable financially for some customers. By offering non-lethal self-defense items such as pepper spray or stun guns, retailers can attract customers who may not be interested in purchasing firearms but still want to feel safe and secure — for example, a woman who has to walk out to her car from her office late at night, or a restaurant worker who doesn’t have the option of carrying his or her gun at work during their shift. Any time you can add a new customer to your list, it’s a good thing. With proper and friendly customer service, follow-up, and, of course, the right marketing with an irresistible offer attached to it, you can easily can add from $20 to several hundred to even several thousand dollars to the bottom line from that customer — plus the likely additional friends or social media contacts that they refer to you because they already like and trust you.

Diversification of Inventory

One of my long-time business mentors is fond of saying, “Diversity is security.” The more ways you have to make money, the less susceptible you are to any variations you may experience in the amount of that revenue that comes from a single source. In the broader market, and especially since the pandemic, many more people are working a side hustle to prepare for an unexpected event such as a job loss or simply to add some money to their savings. Individuals are diversifying their income streams, and so should businesses. The gun business tends to be cyclical. Hunting rifles are typically purchased close to deer season. Most turkey shotguns and ammunition are sold in the spring. The No. 1 driver of a new defensive handgun purchase is the completion of a concealed carry course. By offering a wider range of products to a broader audience, retailers can attract a broader customer base. This allows them to provide those customers a more complete shopping experience and gives the retailer a more consistent revenue source. Another important consideration is that, despite the ever-growing number of first-time firearms purchasers, there are many people who are still simply uncomfortable around firearms but who would be completely comfortable using an option like Mace or a personal alarm to deter an attacker. A more diverse assortment of items that includes non-lethal products can help to build customer loyalty and create repeat business, as customers may return to the retailer for their self-defense needs even if they never purchase a gun.

Legal Considerations

There are legal considerations that make it important for firearms retailers to offer non-lethal self-defense items. In some states or municipalities, there may be restrictions on the sale of firearms, certain types of ammunition, and even magazine capacities, which can limit options. This also tends to make what options are available have a higher cost due to their limited availability. By offering non-lethal options, retailers can ensure that they are complying with local laws and regulations while still providing their customers with a means of self-defense. Carry, use and self-defense laws vary greatly from state to state. If your customer travels a lot, perhaps they want an option that is legal for where they are traveling to in order to replace their current option, which might not be.

A great example of this would be someone with a concealed carry permit from Utah traveling to California. They can’t carry their handgun in California, but it is legal for them to carry pepper spray, provided its use is limited to self-defense. Additionally, in today’s litigious society, it is prudent to have options of escalation to handle a threat. One of the first things a defense lawyer will do in court for a self-defense shooting is try to diminish the threat their client posed — especially in a civil case. Someone getting a face full of Mace or the embarrassment of someone screaming at them while setting off an electronic alarm is a lot less likely to result in an expensive legal battle compared to them getting a bullet in the chest. First of all, the medical bills are a lot less. Second, the effects for pepper spray wear off. The effects of a bullet don’t. This is another great selling point to sell additional products to your firearms-carrying customers. Giving them the ability to avoid an expensive legal bill that can easily reach the six-figure mark for an under $20 purchase helps both them and you. Not only do they avoid the hassle and expense, but you have the benefit of their gratitude for looking out for them, which will likely gain you even MORE of their friends, family and connections when asked about how they protect themselves from harm.

The bottom line is that it behooves us all to have more than one self-defense tool at our disposal, because not every self-defense situation necessitates a firearm. Having a non-lethal option to use when it’s appropriate can save your customers a massive amount of time, money, energy and headache.

Customer Service

There are only three ways for any business to increase their revenue:

1.     Sell to more new customers.

2.     Sell more to existing customers. 

3.     Raising their prices.       

By far, the easiest of the methods above is to sell more to your existing customers — not only because of the decreased cost of acquisition, but because of the already established trusting relationship. Offering non-lethal self-defense items can be a way to provide excellent and more frequent customer service. By helping customers select the right self-defense tool for their needs, a gun shop owner can demonstrate their expertise and commitment to customer satisfaction. This helps to build trust and establish a positive reputation in the community and, again, it will put that store owner at top-of-mind if and when that customer decides to take a leap and purchase their first firearm. Every time you “touch” a customer with your marketing, you have the opportunity to make another sale.

Increased Safety

Perhaps the most important reason why firearms retailers should consider selling non-lethal self-defense items is that it can help to promote safety. While firearms can be an effective means of self-defense, they are also potentially dangerous when used improperly and require training to use safely and effectively. Non-lethal self-defense items, such as pepper spray or stun guns, can provide an alternative means of protection that is easier and safer to use for many people. By offering these options, firearms retailers can help to promote responsible self-defense practices and reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries.

Social Responsibility 

Finally, offering non-lethal self-defense items can be a way for firearms retailers to demonstrate their social responsibility. By promoting a range of self-defense options, including non-lethal alternatives, retailers can help to address concerns about gun violence and promote responsible gun ownership. While this is not a typical concern among most firearm owners, it can open up a much broader audience of not-as-typical customers that you wouldn’t have a chance to sell to before. This can be especially important in communities that have been affected by gun violence or where state and/or local governments have strong opinions about firearms and their use. 

What Products Should You Sell? There are a lot of non-lethal options out there to consider. My best advice is to survey your customers and see what types of products they may be interested in. Some ideas:

•   Mace or pepper spray

•   Collapsible batons

•   Electronic personal alarms

•   Kubatons

•   Loaded gloves (leather gloves with heavy powder across the knuckles)

•   Rubber bullets

•   Bean bag shotgun loads

•   Bullet proof vests (another great idea)

•   Stun guns/Tasers

•   Batons

•   Flashlights (for both a disorienting effect and bludgeoning weapon)

•   Tactical pens

As always, you need to become familiar with the laws and regulations regarding the sale, purchase, and use of all of the above listed items before you sell them to avoid any other hassles. State and local laws will vary.

In conclusion, firearms retailers should consider selling non-lethal self-defense items for a variety of reasons. These items can provide an additional source of revenue, diversify inventory, ensure legal compliance, demonstrate exceptional customer service, promote safety, and demonstrate social responsibility. By offering a range of self-defense options, firearms retailers can attract a broader customer base and provide a more complete shopping experience. Ultimately, the addition of non-lethal self-defense items to a retailer’s inventory can be a profitable decision that benefits the retailer and the customer.


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