Got Game?

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It may seem far away now, but hunting season will be here before you know it. For dealers like Tom Heller, owner of Midland Powersports in Midland, Texas, and Bill Hearne, owner of Outdoor MotorSports in Spearfish, S.D., the upcoming hunting season means it soon will be time to start thinking about hunting displays.

Much like other seasonal displays (Christmas, Fourth of July and other holidays), by drawing attention to a hunting event, you can help customers make the connection between the event and the products they might need. And according to Hearne, it makes your showroom more interesting.

"It sets a scene, just like any display, and its something different rather than just a row of products," Hearne says. "It's a point of interest that makes a store more interesting. Anything you can do to slow down traffic to make your store look different is positive."

Here are some tips on how to create an eye-catching hunting display in your store.

Make an initial investment. If you're just starting out, you have to drop a little bit of cash to get everything you need, like fake trees, shrubs, and even the fake animals. Heller estimates that it will be an investment totaling somewhere around $1,000, depending on the size and complexity. In years to come, the cost of the display will be nominal. "After you buy the initial trees and things, it's actually almost free," Heller says. "It probably costs me about $50 to set up [every year]."

Use decoys. Both Heller and Hearne are avid game hunters, which means they have their own real (but stuffed) animals to use in their dealership displays. "I just bring them from the house and set them up," Heller says. If you don't have access to your own animals, you can use life-like animal archery targets and decoys to populate your display. The hunting outpost Cabella's offers decoys of all sizes, from turkeys to moose. Hearne states that he also uses mannequins in the displays.

Have a plan. Merely scattering decoys and greenery around your merchandise might do more harm than good. Having a plan that details what type of scene you'll have, as well as what vehicles and accessories will be displayed, is key. "We'll decide what the scene is to be, whether it's a deer-hunting scene or an archery scene, or if we want a dog in the scene," Hearne says. "Once we decide what type of hunting scene we want, we just haul the gear in and put it up."

Change it up. Using the same props year after year doesn't mean you have to do the same display. Arrange animals and trees in different ways, use different themes and choose other vehicles and accessories to display. Change the display as often as you want. "We started doing hunting displays about two years ago," Heller says. "We come up with a different display every year."