It's a given that restaurants, flower shops and candy stores will be hot spots as Valentine's Day approaches. But another industry sees a somewhat surprising boom in sales before the romantic holiday: gun shops.
With women's participation in gun sports on the rise and manufacturers responding with feminine firearms that are even pink and red, many are buying a new gun as a gift for their Valentine.
A few years ago, Mike Blackwell, owner of Big Boy's Guns and Ammo in Oklahoma City, started noticing that his store's sales went up in the week before Valentine's Day.
“The Saturday before Valentine's Day is one of our best days of the year,” he said. “The last two years we've set sale records.”
The shop, at 8620 SW 74, carries a variety of handguns geared toward women in colors like pink, red, green and yellow. Also stocked are pink headphones and goggles for women to wear to the range.
Women's participation in target shooting has increased 46.5 percent from 2001 to 2010, according to the latest data available from the National Sporting Goods Association. And their participation in hunting rose 36.6 percent over the same time period.
When surveyed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 61 percent of firearms retailers stated in 2010 they saw an increase in female customers compared to 2009. Twenty-four percent said they saw no change in the number of female customers and 1 percent experienced a decrease in female shoppers (the other 14 percent responded they didn't know.)
At H&H Shooting Sports Complex in Oklahoma City, the split of male and female customers is nearly equal. Owner Miles Hall said 53 percent of its patrons are men and 47 percent are women.
“Valentine's Day has always been a good holiday for us. It's kind of an oddity,” he said.
This year, the company designed gift cards with a Valentine's Day theme. He said holiday business for this holiday involves both men shopping for women and women shopping for men.
Because H&H has its own shooting ranges and a cafe, he often finds couples coming in to spend the day together.
“They just kind of make a date night of it,” he said.