How to Make the Most of Used Bows

How can archery retailers best facilitate and manage a successful used-bow program, and how are they liquidating their used bows?

We asked archery shop owners from across the country how they can best facilitate and manage a successful used-bow program, as well as how they are liquidating their used-bow inventory. Here’s what they had to say.

Chris Kosh

Arkansas Trading & Loan, Inc.Russellville, Arkansas

Our used-bow program is a little different than most since we’re an archery pro shop and a pawn shop. Most of our used bows come in through pawn. In general, pawn is a loan on a percentage of the bow’s estimated value. If someone needs quick cash, they can pawn their bow to us. If they want to put a new bow on layaway, pawning their used bow helps them do that, but they can still get their old one back later when they have more money. Of course, not every bow is picked up. Sometimes our customers want a small, simple loan, and then they don’t return for their pawned item.

used bows
Rigging a bow at Arkansas Trading & Loan.

When customers bring in used bows for consideration, we generally buy them only if they’re five years old or newer and in great condition. Of course, we inspect the bows for damage. The limbs, strings and cables all must be in very good condition. We try to avoid situations where we’d have to invest additional money into the bow to fix things before we could resell it. That would cut into our profits. We have an in-house guide we use to determine how much we’ll give a customer for their used bow.

When a customer brings in a bow they want to liquidate, we make sure they’re aware they can get more money for it by selling it outright. We’re here to help our customers any way we can.

Used bows move quickly for us, so we sell most of them in-house, marking them up a predetermined percentage from cost. Our resale strategy is fairly similar to any other archery shop, except that we have a range where customers can test several bows before buying one. Some shops don’t have that luxury.

Tom “Big Bird” Ciak

Big Bird’s Bait & BowsMaryville, Missouri

When somebody wants to trade in a used bow, I recommend that they sell it on eBay, Archery Talk or Craigslist. They’ll get more money for it that way. But if they really want to sell it immediately, I’ll make them an offer if it’s a bow I know I can resell. I can easily make a lower offer when I’m giving them cash instead of trade-in value toward a new bow. If I did trades and made low offers, I’d feel like I’m shortchanging my customers.

Before I ever buy a used bow, I examine it for wear and damage. The condition largely affects the price I offer, or if I offer at all. It must be safe to shoot and in good working order. I always ask if the bow was ever dry-fired. Of course, customers unfortunately aren’t always truthful about that.

used bows
Tom “Big Bird” Ciak

I sometimes bring in older used bows. Bows from the 90s don’t compare to today’s bows, but I can offer them to beginners for as little as $75. They can try archery without spending hundreds.

Of course, not every customer is a used-bow buyer. I feel out their budget first and work from there. The used-bow buyer demographics here are beginner archers and those with lower budgets.

The real benefit of selling used bows isn’t the profit you make on the bow itself. Sometimes I sell used bows for the same price I pay for them, then realize the profits when the customer purchases accessories.

Greg Strickling

Bow and Barrel Sportsmen Center / St. Robert, Missouri

The relatively low number of used bows we sell are primarily under a consignment program. We really don’t do trade-ins. Bows seem to lose value so quickly that I can’t really offer a customer a fair trade-in value. That’s why we do a consignment program. We sell the bow for the customer and retain a small percentage, and they get more money for their bow. Everyone wins.

Our minimum consignment period is 60 days.Used bows move quickly right before deer season. The price tag is up to the consignor. I’ll suggest a current going rate, but they get to decide. If a bow hasn’t sold for a while, they’ll often drop the price.

Before accepting a bow on consignment, I inspect the strings and cables to make sure they’re in good condition. Even though it’s not my inventory, I’m still attaching my name to it, so it must be safe to shoot.

used bows

Selling a new bow is our priority, but if a customer is working with a limited budget and one of the consignment bows fit them and their budget, we’ll sell it to them. If I have a new shooter in the store looking for a bow and I have a consignment bow on the shelf that’s a bit nicer than my brand-new budget bows but for the same price, they’ll often go that route. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer. I present them with information and let them decide.

Top photo: iStock