What do YOU want in your local gun store?


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Atla
August 9, 2008, 07:47 PM
Folks, I'm beginning to seriously look into opening a gun store.

It's a long stretch, and I'm not entirely sure it's feasible yet. But I'm bouncing ideas around, and looking into the financing.

The town is ripe for a good gun store, there was an extremely profitable one that closed down five years ago when the partnership fell apart, and since than nothing.

My location that would be ideal would be between the local Gun Club and town... which thankfully is outside town limits. I think this can be done, theres a lot of roadside farm land - might be able to get a piece. Even better if there's a nice lot I can build a minimum 25 yard range behind it for CCW classes(I'm seriously considering offering a CCW class free with a pistol purchase) and for folks to try things out at.

Also be 'sponsering' local shooters at matches, mainly supplying them with free ammo/match fees...and they have to wear MY t-shirts.

And, I'm planning on having a 'Shooter's Diner' in it. Sandwiches, drinks, etc, etc. (You have to pay for the floor space, whether anyone is standing on it or not. The longer people stay in your store, the more likely they are to buy this knick-knack or that.) As well as TV's showing shooting competition video's, Terminator Two, etc, etc.

Now, obviously you people want guns. And pretty girls who know some about guns. Ain't a problem. (Sorry folks, no pole dancing)

But what else?

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yesit'sloaded
August 9, 2008, 08:11 PM
Bullet lube. I'm supposed to be hunting right now but I had to get on just to hang out for a while because the bugs and heat are killing me and I'm here till wed anyway. But I can't find bullet lube. Everyone has bullets, powder, and brass. Personally if I could choose what gun stores stock it would be.
Sub$150 stripped AR lowers
Rock Island 1911s (only decent sub $500 1911 I can think of)
7.62x54r
reloading components
staff that has a clue
decent ammo selection (stuff that I have to hunt for like 20 gauge slugs, 9x18mm, 7.62x54r brass cased hunting ammo that isn't priced like Norma, .22 target ammo)
good knives
good lights
concealed carry holsters

pappy
August 9, 2008, 08:12 PM
Free guns? :D

Ragnar Danneskjold
August 9, 2008, 08:16 PM
The high lead and chemical content of most gun stores might make opening a food section very difficult legally.

DRYHUMOR
August 9, 2008, 08:21 PM
Good, solid, used guns.
Duck and turkey calls.
Black Hills ammo.
Displays of AAA stock blanks.
Competant gunsmith on staff.
Christmas raffle for a rifle or shotgun.
Kid friendly.

BigBlock
August 9, 2008, 08:21 PM
And, I'm planning on having a 'Shooter's Diner' in it. Sandwiches, drinks, etc, etc. (You have to pay for the floor space, whether anyone is standing on it or not. The longer people stay in your store, the more likely they are to buy this knick-knack or that.)

I would LOVE that. I spend enough time sitting at the counter of my local gun shop just staring at the wall of gun porn, playing with a few here and there. Be a great place to eat lunch!

wuluf
August 9, 2008, 08:23 PM
a job! :D

shevrock
August 9, 2008, 08:25 PM
All the gun stores near me suck, so I'm gonna make a list, and i don't mean to be snobby.

Good prices on guns that should be cheap
More ammo that is cheap and will test my weapons to their limit
people who know the difference between .22lr and 22short
More rare guns
more cheap guns[err cheaper]
parts
space!!!!!!
a small test range


Theirs more i know, but busy at the moment. please open a good gunstore though.

mejeepnut
August 9, 2008, 08:29 PM
I would like to see cheaper ammo then what gunshops sell it for!
I would like to see cheaper guns then what gunshops sell it for!
I would like to see cheaper reloading tools then what gunshops sell it for!
I would like to see cheaper reloading components then what gunshops sell it for!
I would like to go into a gun shop and not have to wait behind the same people who never buy anything but cost me time because there conversation with the owner is more important then me buying or asking anything!

I have always said keep the local shops in buisness but I don't say it any more!I don't expect gunshops to be able to keep up with wallyworld prices but to be 1.5-2 x's as much at all times is a joke!

Its now wallyworld or the internet for me!I know wallyworld buys in massive volume and the internet people have no overhead but I can only afford what I can afford!~


I will not pay extra for crap when I can pay less for quality!!!!!!!!!

kingpin008
August 9, 2008, 08:34 PM
Here's my wishlist, in no particular order:

--Friendly staff, who will do their best to find the answer to a question for you if they don't already know
--The ability and willingness to order guns if they're not in stock. (I'd be willing to pay a small premium for odd or tough orders, just to make it fair)
--Good prices, or a willingness to haggle a little bit.
--No problem with buying or taking used guns in trade (my local shop will not do this and it drives me NUTS)
--Reloading equipment and supplies.
--Willingness to do transfers for a reasonable fee
--Nice, clean, WELL-VENTILATED range (if you decide to have one at all)
--Decent selection of guns. Please try to carry a few different brands of each type of gun (handgun, rifle, etc) and a few different styles/models/etc. I HATE walking into a store and wanting to check out a few different types of pistols, only to find out that the particular dealer primarily handles X Brand of guns, so he's got 1,974,476,000 of that brand, and ONE of the competitor. That kind of thing is a sure guarantee that even if he's got good prices, I won't be buying from him.

And...that's about it! Good luck!

btg3
August 9, 2008, 08:36 PM
...there was an extremely profitable one that closed down five years ago when the partnership fell apart, and since than nothing.
Why re-invent the wheel? New location, pretty girls, restaurant... are you confident that your business model makes more sense?

Is the old shop for sale -- perhaps by highly motivated sellers after 5 years of sitting on it?

In any event, one fundamental question is whether you want to cater to a small clique of gun nuts, or attract a wider market. In other words, do want a club or a business? Seriously, think about it.

Ohio Rifleman
August 9, 2008, 08:37 PM
Well, a little something for everyone, unless you want to specialize. Tactical (or tacticool) stuff, like tricked-out AR15s and scopes and fancy holsters and all that, some good ol' fasioned hunting guns, some milsurps, used guns, etc. I guess try to cater at least a little to as many different sections of the shooting community as possible. But really, what I'd like to see most is great service and selection. I'm talking about stocking the lowly Hi Point all the way up to Kimbers and the like. Again, catering to all corners of the shooting community. Maybe some Pro-2A literature too, just for the heck of it.

dsoine
August 9, 2008, 08:39 PM
1. A decent pistol range.
2. Friendly staff makes all the difference.
3. Federal LE ammunition for home defense. (50 rd boxes)

best,

Dave

WayneConrad
August 9, 2008, 08:39 PM
Call me old fashioned, but I want guns, ammo, and specialty services that big box stores can't supply at any price. I don't want dancing girls, dancing bears, or any of that stuff. I don't care if who's behind the counter is pretty, or even smiles, but the kind of simple, honest courtesy that was common in my dad's day will go an awful long way. When I go to a small gun store, I'm not there for price. I'm there because I need something the big box stores don't sell, or because I want services that they can't offer. I'm not going to play "Let's Make A Deal" with you on price, because I know what I need isn't common and ought to cost more. In return, I want you to treat me fairly and with the same courtesy I treat you, and not charge extra just because you think I'm going to try to talk you down.

Here is an example of the kind of first-class service I want from a small gun store:

I wanted a special model of pistol. I had its model number off of the web site, but the big box stores don't carry it. My favorite gun shop spent the time to find out that it's a gun that the manufacturer doesn't even make until they have enough orders for it. He must have spent half an hour on the phone playing detective for me. What's more important is that he wasn't just calling 1-800 numbers. He was on a first-name basis with his contacts at the different distributors. "You know, I'll bet so-and-so will know..." and he'd dial another number. Because he was able to contact the people with the right knowledge, I knew ahead of time that the pistol wouldn't be arriving on a fixed schedule, so there was no heartburn associated with the order--no finding out two weeks later, "by the way, we just found out they won't be getting it when we said." That kind of knowledge and service is worth paying more for.

Drgong
August 9, 2008, 08:55 PM
Know your market.

As for your food idea, check with your health department, some of there rules make ATF regs look simple! Though a cooler with some sodas might be very doable.

Good service is always key.

Stock a range of pistols, have some nice pistols, but also have some sub $200 used pistols. Same with rifles, have some inexpensive rifles, but also stock a Nice CZ. Shooting the breeze is important, but if someone is coming in make sure they are being served. Sell the gun for low prices but then sell them the safe, holster, and other items to make a nice markup. T-shirts are GREAT retail markups (300% in many cases) same with hats. find out if your market is hunters, stock hunting supplies, if it western stuff, sell western stuff.

Be willing to order anything for a customer, and be reasonable, but charge a large fee for FFL transfers unless its something that you cannot get ahold of. Might sound mean but your not there to help online stores ship goods. leave that to they guy in the hardware store. $20 for a FFL transfer that you cannot order, $100 for something you can.

You will not be able to go face to face with Wally world, instead make it so that people come there to talk to someone that knows guns. Be willing to do gun trades, and set up a nice consignment system. Consignment allows you to vary your stock a lot without any cost to you except for floorspace.

If a gun is sitting in your showroom for X number of months, sell it at a auction site to keep rotation of your stock.

rantingredneck
August 9, 2008, 08:56 PM
I'll repeat one thing that has been said a couple times already. Because I think it bears repeating.

Customer Service......

The two local shops around here can be lacking in that at times.

You provide me good customer service and I can forgive lack of selection on your rack. I'd go somewhere else (with poor customer service) to handle the weapon and then come order one through you.

Customer service is king in my book.

Rmart30
August 9, 2008, 09:00 PM
--Friendly staff, who will do their best to find the answer to a question for you if they don't already know
--The ability and willingness to order guns if they're not in stock. (I'd be willing to pay a small premium for odd or tough orders, just to make it fair)
--Good prices, or a willingness to haggle a little bit.
--No problem with buying or taking used guns in trade (my local shop will not do this and it drives me NUTS)
--Reloading equipment and supplies.
--Willingness to do transfers for a reasonable fee
--Nice, clean, WELL-VENTILATED range (if you decide to have one at all)
--Decent selection of guns..

I agree with this about 100% with friendly employees being at the top.
+1 to a reasonable charge for FFL transfers.
Myself id even offer a discount to CCW holders on transfers and possibly ammo and accessories maybe ?
A well rounded inventory would be nice and a big sign saying.....If we dont have it we can order it for you!
Do like the local Grainger store does... free popcorn and a soda dispensor. gives people something to munch on and its very cheap to provide :)

JackBurtonJr
August 9, 2008, 09:07 PM
http://www.gmarketing.com/articles/

Good luck

Atla
August 9, 2008, 09:08 PM
The old store isn't available sadly.

Good ideas guys. There will be as many different types of Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns possible. I don't want to 'specialize', I want it to be well-rounded.

Not all competition guns, not all hunting guns, not all 'tacticool' guns.

I WANT to deal in some used guns, generally speaking you can move cheaper stuff quicker than expensive stuff. (Mil-surps are a great example of this.) But I also want some middle and high end stuff also.

(A lot of people will come in to look at a Barrett sitting on the table, but not buy it. Instead they might buy something else, even if it's a 50 round box of Corbon. I still make money. And if I've a range set up, I can let folks actually shoot the Barrett for a fee. Why just fondle when you can pull the trigger?)

I WANT this to be a place you can actually come into, and stay a while. Not a club so much as a gathering place for people interested in shooting.

It won't be a full-blown diner. Just a small counter offering some subs/sandwhiches and drinks. Nothing big.

There will be pro-gun literature. I read a lot, so there'll be a book section.

And I don't want crap in the store. Some gun stores you go to are more like a yard sale/flea market. (Throwing Stars? Numb-Chucks? Wth?) If it ain't shooting related, we ain't going to sell it.

WayneConrad
August 9, 2008, 09:10 PM
but charge a large fee for FFL transfers unless its something that you cannot get ahold of.
This is penny wise and pound foolish. Had the small gun store I currently do business with had such a policy, I would not currently be their customer. My first dealing with them was a FFL transfer, which they made only a small amount on. My second was a $1000 special order, business I gave them because they handled the FFL transfer professionally, smoothly, and for a fair price.

Atla
August 9, 2008, 09:11 PM
I should have mentioned Customer Service.

I agree with you guys completely, I hate going into stores where they don't care if you're there or not.

When you walk into the place, regardless of if you are just buying a 550 pack of .22lr, or a $1200 Kimber, you will be treated the same.

HB
August 9, 2008, 09:12 PM
I honestly would avoid the diner... There is a place I know of that has a diner/jerky/smoker area and they hardly ever get buisness although the gun store is busy. Plus, thats a whole nuther industry.

HB

Atla
August 9, 2008, 09:13 PM
I can't compete with Walmart ammo prices, sorry. Gonna have to make up for that in other things as much as possible.

JackBurtonJr
August 9, 2008, 09:18 PM
My local gun shop owner is always more than willing to use his ffl to ship a gun back to the manufacturer via the post office if I bought the gun with him. Saves quite a bit of money and hassle.

Deanimator
August 9, 2008, 09:22 PM
The only stuff I really need, namely bullseye competition related stuff. It'd be nice to be able to buy CCI Standard Velocity .22lr locally at a reasonable price. Decent 148gr. .38 wadcutters, 200gr .45 semi-wadcutters and Federal match primers would be nice. The only place around here that seems to stock Federal primers is Gander Mountain.

Used S&W revolvers in decent shape are always nice too.

bigfatdave
August 9, 2008, 09:27 PM
Plenty of quality used guns, kept organized. Be willing to rent them for ...
Range with good ventilation, AC/heat, and have lots of AC on before the range is open, not just a window unit turned on when the first range user shows up.
Our local rental range has crap ventilation, and isn't even cooled down by the time we've shot for an hour ... so MrsBFD and I are sweaty, smoked out, and annoyed. Not a good way to get us buying extra goodies or shooting longer and buying your ammo when we run out
Free CCW class sounds really cool, you may want to make it free class with pistol + case or safe + holster, or some combination, not just the pistol. Or you may want to offer a firearms safety course with purchase rather than CCW.
Keep ammo and accessories in stock! Or at least know when they will arrive if ordered.
If you don't have magazines on hand after I ask once a week for three weeks, I'm ordering online. I'll only accept "probably next week" twice, it seems.
If you are always out of all but one brand of ammo in a particular caliber, I'm going to wal*mart or the competition.

Free soft drinks?
Throw in some snap caps with every gun for dry-fire?
Throw in a cleaning kit or other goodies with purchase?
Have a website with accurate inventory?

Aka Zero
August 9, 2008, 09:51 PM
variety of guns "in stock". if you have to buy the plastic training "blue guns" or "red guns".

Hate "I can get it for you" I want to try the gun before I order one...

Range, check.... ccw capibility, check...

And make it close to here....

Good to go.

tpaw
August 9, 2008, 10:16 PM
What do YOU want in your local gun store?

What I always get. A nice hot cup of coffee and a good BS session with the Jim, the owner. Can't ask for more......;)

EHCRain10
August 9, 2008, 10:31 PM
if you have the land available, maybe a longer range for rifles?

kingpin008
August 9, 2008, 10:44 PM
Atla - The more I think about it, I have to add my voice to the few here already who have suggested nixing the eatery/sandwich counter from your plans.

I say so from a few different angles. One, I've worked in food service for the majority of my working life. Even the smallest little sandwich shop can take a suprising amount of work to keep running and keep profitable. If I were already running a gun shop, the last thing I'd want to deal with was helath department inspections, making sure I ordered enough salami and hoagie rolls from my vendor, fixing the coolers when they go on the fritz, dealing with the customer who got sick because he ordered with his sub with "the works" and got sick because there were peppers on it and he can't eat peppers, didn't you know that? etc, etc.

Also, keeping an eye on customers is going to be an issue. While you and the rest of the gun shop staff are taking care of customers, there is a distinct possibility that a few folks might take advantage of the situation to walk away with some merchandise. And what happens when a gun shop customer walks up to one of the sandwich counter folks and asks to see the minty P7 in the used case because all the other clerks are busy? Are they going to be gun shop employees too? Or will they need to ask the customer to go back to the gun shop side and find a clerk?

I dunno, there are a lot of other reasons, but you get the idea. It seems to me that you might have one too many irons in the fire with that one. (not that it's not an admirable idea!)

Regolith
August 9, 2008, 10:47 PM
*Decent selection of arms (everything from pistols to hunting rifles to EBR's and exotics) and accessories (including ammo, holsters, slings, targets, etc).

*Clean, organized, open and well lit layout.

*Friendly atmosphere.

Those are pretty much what I'm looking for in a gun shop.

Drgong
August 9, 2008, 10:59 PM
forgot well lit, that is very important!

jlbraun
August 9, 2008, 11:06 PM
My contributions:
-Cheap FFL transfers.
-An online / telephone customer service department.
-Get a website, and keep it updated. Write a blog. "Just got the new FN SCAR in and man is it sweet! Here's a video of our staff shooting it!"
-Use gunbroker, and put your entire inventory on it. It not only helps you sell guns, it allows locals to see what you have in stock before they come in.
-The sandwich shop sounds cool, but realize that food service is a whole nother can of worms as others have mentioned. If it works out, put a cafe next door later.
-25 yard range, open or covered depending.
-Kid friendly. Free lollipop or other treat for any kid under 13 that walks in the door, and/or a free 10 rounds of .22LR to shoot any of the kid-size rifles.
-Have a separate classroom for CCW classes.
-Have a test for potential employees and have THR write it. "Will a .45 round knock a man down? Yes, No, or I don't know?" Hire the ones that get it right, AND the ones that admit they don't know.
-I like your idea of a TV running constantly showing shooting competitions etc. Also consider Fish and Game TV, and every firearms-oriented episode of Mythbusters. :D Put a couch in front of it with a nice coffee table.
-Have a library/research center. Back issues of Guns, gun blue books, gunsmithing, local gun history, etc.
-Have a gun tool library. Boresighters, left-handed-whatzit tools, AR-15 sight adjusters, etc.
-Good luck if you decide to stock holsters, there are a million options. A few basics should work.
-Work with a couple lawyers in town or nearby and put their cards on the counter if they do self-defense law or estate planning or whatever. Pro-gun lawyers are always in need.
-Sell memberships to the range which include the library and tool checkout. Of course, take out deposits on tools and other things that go out the door.
-Pay your employees well, not a pittance plus commission. It's worth it in the long run - less turnover, better customer service, etc.
-Know all the mfr. reps personally. Manufacturers plus part guys. I would say that if I came in asking for a McMillan stock, and they didn't have it but made a show of calling the McMillan rep instead of handing me the catalog and grunting "we can order that", I'd be mighty impressed and likely place an order on the spot.

Gunsby_Blazen
August 9, 2008, 11:07 PM
inexpensive good quality ammo.
ability to get a wide variety of ammo, even rare ones
good gun care products, such as oils and grease, blacksnakes (the only place i can find them is cabelas and walmart and they are sold out all the time at cabelas and walmart only sells a few different sizes), high quality cleaning rods.
wide range of firearm selection, or at least a couple devoted to different thigns that different customers look for.
anyway, just my $.02
its all i can come up with for now....

RoadkingLarry
August 9, 2008, 11:10 PM
Here is an example of a pretty good shop in Tulsa.
Good selection of accessories and assorted shooting related supplies and equipment. A little light on reloading but I tend to need oddball stuff. They also have a lunch counter.
http://www.sportsworldtulsa.com/

robsc
August 9, 2008, 11:24 PM
I`d like to know what you`ll do with and where will you put, all the used guns that you buy, or take as trade ins from people buying other guns? mmmmmmmm????

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
August 9, 2008, 11:28 PM
For starters, good scope rings for Weaver/P-rails -not junky Millett, not B-square, not Leupold Rifleman. :mad: I want Warne, Burris, Leupold Steel, Talley, etc.

Rmart30
August 9, 2008, 11:31 PM
Quote:
but charge a large fee for FFL transfers unless its something that you cannot get ahold of......

This is penny wise and pound foolish. Had the small gun store I currently do business with had such a policy, I would not currently be their customer. My first dealing with them was a FFL transfer, which they made only a small amount on. My second was a $1000 special order, business I gave them because they handled the FFL transfer professionally, smoothly, and for a fair price.

I agree with that... one of the local store here I had bought a few guns from didnt have the model of gun I wanted, the salesman told me that gun was hard to get (XD subcompact) and it would be $50 for a transfer to him :rolleyes:
Needless to say that $50 quote cost him much more in future bussiness with me than he will ever know. I ordered the gun I wanted and had it shipped to a FFL that charges $20 (like most in this area do) for transfers and is happy to do it.

Monkeybear
August 9, 2008, 11:36 PM
Good staff and decent selection/prices are all you really need. If you can figure out how to make enough money selling guns, ammo and basic accessories to pay the bills with a little left over then you are good to go.

Everything else is gravy if you can sell it and lost money if you can't.

no_problem
August 9, 2008, 11:39 PM
<<Needless to say that $50 quote cost him much more in future bussiness with me than he will ever know. I ordered the gun I wanted and had it shipped to a FFL that charges $20 (like most in this area do) for transfers and is happy to do it.>>

Yep...Most people have pretty sharp BS meters, and money walks.

.38 Special
August 9, 2008, 11:40 PM
I find that the three things that will keep me out of a particular gunshop are

1) Lack of manners. I don't know why rudeness is endemic to gunshops, but I have been in far too many where you can expect to be treated badly. This is possibly the stupidest business model ever.

2) Lack of knowledge. If I wanted to to talk to someone who knew nothing about guns, I would go to the sporting goods counter at Wal-Mart.

3) They don't have what I want. And that's the variable you can't really control for: what I want might not be -- and probably isn't -- what most other guys want. Hopefully you have a good idea of the needs and desires of your potential clients in your area.

arthurcw
August 9, 2008, 11:40 PM
Be realistic with your prices on both new and used guns.

But most of all don't treat your customers like they are idiots and don't let your sales slu... um... I mean staff, act like they know everything. Tell the guys and gals behind the counter that if they don't know, don't BS. It's no crime to say, "You know, I'm not sure. Let me ask the boss / look it up. Just a sec."

Don’t treat ladies like they are idiots. Ask questions before assuming a woman is a novice. And if they are, don’t direct them straight away to the pretty pink guns or the small ones that kick like mules.

Keep the shop CLEAN. Keep the posters of scantily clad “babes” with bandoleers off the walls. Make it respectable for a Mom to take her kid in there.

offroaddiver
August 9, 2008, 11:57 PM
How about reloading equipment. I would love the old fridge of off name drinks for people that my old dive shop had. Gunsmithing that isn't an arm and a leg.

Prepster
August 10, 2008, 12:05 AM
Don't be afraid to stock cheap guns, or *gasp* junk guns. I have trouble finding cheap range beaters to tinker with. I can understand wanting to avoid the image, but a low-traffic corner makes a perfect saturday night special area. These complement the ultra high-end ones nicely. I find some days I want caviar, other days I want the fast food dollar menu.

jbird714
August 10, 2008, 12:10 AM
Lots of good ideas, so far. About all I can do is reiterate CUSTOMER SERVICE. Acknowledge everyone who walks in the door, even if you are currently working with another customer. Lets the new guy know he has been seen and is not being ignored. Most people can see your with another customer at this point and are willing to be patient. I'll agree with the posters who recommend against the food shop. A cooler with some soft drinks or a vending machine on the sales floor will be simple and profitable. If your local soft drink distributor has a good rep for servicing machines at small accounts, go for it- that takes a lot of the headache out your day.
Others have mentioned selection- try to hit every price point with the best quality available. A friend of mine owns a local shop and usually keeps new guns from about $250.00 on up. He had a lot of headaches with Hi-Point a few years ago and refuses to stock them, so he doesn't go for the extreme low end market. Find a NICHE. If no one else in the area stocks something, like CZ rifles around here, you stand a good chance of developing a market for it and making a decent margin since no one else carries it- until they notice your success with it. My friends shop has earned a rep for stocking the best ammo selection in town- odd ball calibers to premium match ammo like Black Hills. It brings in a lot of customers.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

Harry Paget Flashman
August 10, 2008, 12:52 AM
I want a long row of used and milsurp rifles, glass cabinets full of pistols and revolvers, lots of ammo, cheap transfers and a guy behind the counter that I can say to "Find me ______ at a decent price" and he does. Currently I have to spread my wants out to several gun shops in town. As long a I'm getting what I want and he's making a living I am content to shop around at several stores that fulfill my niche need.

22-rimfire
August 10, 2008, 12:55 AM
I'd visit a couple of gunshops that carry a significant inventory and enumalte them. Add a lot of used firearms and good customer service, you have the makings of a good business.

Jdude
August 10, 2008, 12:57 AM
Lack of manners. I don't know why rudeness is endemic to gunshops, but I have been in far too many where you can expect to be treated badly. This is possibly the stupidest business model ever.
There is a very similar issue in comic book stores. Comic book geeks tend to apply for comic book shops because their habit is getting to expensive or because they love comics. Very rarely do they have personal skills.
Here is a stories from my comic book buddy (one of the few good clerks).

One guy found out a writer from "the OC" did comics, and went and attempted to buy all the current books. When the customer told the clerk he was buying them because of the writer and cause he wrote for TV, the clerk took the books and refused to sell them. The clerk then insulted him.

This is rampant in the comics arena. Here is another one.

A young lady went to ask for Japanese style comic books. The clerk, with a large amount of disgust, said "you mean a-nuh-me!?!" (This particular clerk did not care for anime, and stressed the word like the customer was retarded). The young lady did not even have time to respond before the clerk asked her to leave.

The point of all of this is that people can learn guns on the job. If they are a pompous jerk, they likely will not unlearn it. Hire real people and you will have regular, well paying customers. Hire "comic book guy", and I'll never visit your store again. specialty sports- I had a new gunny with me! Of course he didn't know the ARs weren't automatic!

Jdude
August 10, 2008, 01:02 AM
Oh and have things like 7.62, 5.56 and GP11 in battlepacks and boxes at a price comparable to what I can get them online for. They are likely small profit margin wise, but guys like me that like to shoot will do volume for you anyways.

.38 Special
August 10, 2008, 01:05 AM
I'd visit a couple of gunshops that carry a significant inventory and enumalte them.

I don't know what that means, but it sounds immoral and possibly illegal.

Zip7
August 10, 2008, 01:12 AM
We have a small local Mom & Pop gun store here that is pretty much dedicated to guns and shooting rather than hunting or whatever.

We also have close by an Academy, a Bass Pro and a Cabelas.

If I need something, I go first to the Mom & Pop place. Finding things in Bass Pro or Cabelas is a problem, because I don't have a GPS thingy with waypoints logged for the item I need... It's been my experience that the more I need some small specific item, the less likely Academy is to have it or even know what it is. If the Mom & Pop doesn't have it, they at least know what it is, and will get it.

What I don't like about the place is they are located in an affluent area, and they have lots of very nice guns I can't afford and can only lust after.

Probably my best suggestion would be go to academy and look at all their gun cleaning supplies. You need much better stuff than that and more of it. Academy doesn't have a single cleaning jag, and I'm fairly sure they wouldn't know what one was.

Crow1108
August 10, 2008, 01:20 AM
Better ammo selection. One of the places I go to around here has every ammo caliber under the sun, but maybe only 2 or 3 different brands/types of it, and when it gets sold out, it usually stays that way for at least a few weeks. Sucks going across town to pick up some defensive ammo to squirrel away for the new pistol I bought, only to find out it's still out of stock. A gunshop should have an amount of ammo commensurate with the amount of guns they have in stock.

Better ammo prices. Both places I go to around here seem to be getting pretty greedy. I know cost of materials plays a part in this, but when a box of ammo is cheaper (even after factoring shipping) than buying it locally, the "cost of lead and brass rising" arguement goes out the window to a degree.

If you're going to incorporate a range, I know alot of people don't pick up their brass. Reload it, and sell it to people who just want some cheap ammo to use on the range. Two places I went to with my Dad when I was a kid did this, and a ziplock baggy full of 9mm or .45 FMJ compared to WWB was a steal even then.

Dookie
August 10, 2008, 01:44 AM
#1 - as mentioned, good customer service. even if your prices are higher and you cannot have all the inventory I want I will still come back if I like the place and fell welcome.
#2 - a very large selection of rimfire ammo. 223, 308, 7.62X39, 270, ect. all have thousands of different loads. Rimfire people want to buy more than golden bullets, xperts and blazers. Get a good selection of Eley, S&K, Wolf and you will get customers.
#3 - non insulting trade in values. I will not trade in my $2,500 Cooper for $350 because the caliber is not that popular and then tell me you only mark it up by 20%. BS! Stevens M87 are not a $200 dollar rifle and I know because you only offered me $50 for mine, in better condition, than the one you are selling.
#4 - Fair prices, don't have a beat up used Savage model 93 for $210 and have a brand new identical model for $220.
#5 - Parts. A good selection of small parts for popular firearms. 10/22 custom parts, Rem 700, Savage 110, 1911. An electronics store makes most of their profits from CD's, stereo cable, hard drives, MP3 players than they do selling the high dollar car or home stereo. If I know I can go into your store and pick up a common part for a my Ruger, even if it costs a little more, I will give you my business.
#6 - DON'T WEAR CAMO!!!
#7 - Have even a small selection of oddball and uncommon firearms.
#8 - Have staff who know what they are talking about. I don't care if the person behind the counter does not know everything. If I ask a question and that person behind the counter says "I don't know, let me find out". I will be willing to come back. A person who knowingly answers the question incorrectly and steers me wrong will never get my business again.
#9 - good selection of cleaning supplies.
#10 - People who do not have an opinion on a particular caliber and steer people away from that caliber even though that person has never used that particular rounds.
#11 - Cheap used guns. By cheap I mean fair priced. That Mossberg 46M(B) is NOT a $250 dollar rifle. and neither are the 7 you have sitting next to it. It's a 50 year old 22 that they made millions of and are not special
#12 - high end target rifles and sights.

I know that having a small shop means that you cannot keep the inventory of the big stores, and I also know that you cannot have the prices of the box stores. Some people, you know who you are, expect you to have every caliber of every rifle on hand in your 10X20' safe, I don't. You have to compensate for that with customer service.

Darthbauer
August 10, 2008, 01:53 AM
Everything Turners isn't. I just want someone that knows more about the guns than I do.

Zedicus
August 10, 2008, 02:36 AM
Para Ordnance 1911's - Not many shops have them.
Armalite Rifles - Same as Above, Not many places have them.
Fulton Armory M1A's and M1A EBR's - have yet to see any shops stock any
Barrett Rifles - Not enough shops stock Ronnie Barrett's products
Sharpes Rifles (45-70 on up) - Not many places even have reproductions.
Bulk Reloaded Ammo - Always a good idea
Pro 2A Stickers/Hats/Coffee Mugs -Always a good seller.
Mill-Surp Ammo Cans - Always popular
Savage 10FP-LE - A low priced tack driver that to few know about.
Anzio Ironworks 20mm - Nuff Said :D
Stealth Recon Scout Rifles - Have yet to see a shop with these Link (http://www.deserttacticalarms.com/)

TAB
August 10, 2008, 02:39 AM
The only thing that has not been said, is a women on the staff that actually knows what she is talking about it. Its not so much something I want, but its something that would be helpful should I bring the GF/wife in the store. Not to mention it will help in sales to other women.

RonE
August 10, 2008, 09:55 AM
I hate seeing bubba behind he counter with a pistol strapped to his side. Wearing a handgun may be advertising in some peoples minds, but it turns me off. Put your personal pistol under or behind the counter.

If you have a range, offer the NRA hunter safety course.

Have an annual turkey shoot and let civic groups and churches use your range for turkey shoots.

Use your range for 4H shooting classes and competitions.

Free (even though cheap) blaze orange vest with purchase of deer rifle.

Free shop baseball caps with gun purchase.

Have lots of dead animale heads on the walls.

Hot dogs, chili, cokes and coffee is easier than a full blown deli counter and says the same thing for less investment...."Pull up a stool and rest and bs a while."

Big deer contest every year with results posted in the store and local paper. If in phesant country, longest tail feather contest every year with pictures and publicity.

Clean restrooms and no cigerette butts littering around the front door. Good and easy parking.

Good lighting and accent lighting for pistol cases.

A company Labradore (greeter) and official cat that hangs around the store.

An arrangement with other dealers of brands that you don't carry to cooperate back and forth to sell the customer what he/she wants through your store.

BLC
August 10, 2008, 10:35 AM
On site gun smith.

I would ditch the diner too, a Coke machine and a little rack with chips and jerky and such would be cool though.

WayneConrad
August 10, 2008, 11:15 AM
Be friendly to open carry. If my sidearm will remain holstered, allow it in the store without requiring me to unload it.

Re a pop machine: No thanks. I don't want everything in the store getting sticky. Hey, it's a gun store. The soda shop is down the corner.

Boomer
August 10, 2008, 11:35 AM
Well, people have pretty much covered what the ideal gun shop should have. It inspired me to think about what the ideal car dealership should be like.


Stock every car that is made.
Stock each accessory that is made, for each of those cars.
Sell all the varieties of fuel that are available for each of those cars.
For those who want to make their own accessories or fuel, stock the components or raw materials needed to do so.
Special order any of the above that isn't at the dealership.
Buy my old car for almost as much as a new one.
Sell me a used car for way less than a new one.
Operate and maintain a track, where people can race their cars.
Offer classes on how to drive a car.
Be sure the salespeople don't shoot the breeze with other customers (in case I want to buy a car now).
Be sure the salespeople are willing to shoot the breeze with me (in case I want to).
Be sure the salespeople are not so gross as to be seen actually sitting in a car. (Comparable to gun store clerks openly carrying.)
Hire only automotive experts as salespeople. (Hang the expense.)
Give me access to those experts for free.
Be willing to do a lot of free research for me. (To show my appreciation, I may buy something again in the future.)
Be willing to transfer cars that other people are selling cheaper (because they don't do all this stuff), and do the government-required paperwork for the transfers.
Do all of this for really cheap.

ErikS
August 10, 2008, 12:27 PM
I havent been in that many gun stores, but I've visited a lot of fishing stores as well as computer stores, so I think I can speak a bit of what makes one of those local stores work, and why I would spend more money buying something there than I can get it from a bigger store, or online, since no smaller shop can compete pricewise with the big ones.

Like a lot of people have allready said, friendly staff. I often know a lot more than the sales people about what I come in asking for, but I never give that impression. Some people misjudge me as a know nothing and either try to denigrate me, or try to feed me some BS why I should buy what they want to sell. This is a really bad business move on their part. Usually I just leave, never come back, and tell everyone I know not to go there either. If I'm in a bad mood I might first respond by asking highly specific questions that they dont know the answer to, and do so in front of other customers. (Some of my friends find that really funny to watch.)
Bottom line, treat everyone with respect, and do your best to help them.

Knowledgeable staff, but if they dont know everything, they are willing to find out and learn.
If you dont know the answer, dont try to fake it. It's better to say "I'm sorry, I dont know the answer to that question, but I can find out for you", than try to pretend by giving a fake answer.
One of my favorite fishing stores years ago had the owners wife standing there a lot of the time. She was far from an expert, but she kept asking people what they used and how they liked it, so she could always tell you what the local experts used, and why they liked it. And she never tried to look more knowledgeable than she was. That was the reason I spent loads of money there, often buying things just on her recommendation.

Competitive prices. You probably cant compete with the big stores or mailorder businesses, but you should try to keep it as close as possible too. If you charge $250 for something I might find online for $200, the convenience of buying it from you, seeing it before I buy it, and be able to maybe get some tips along the way, will make it worth it. If on the other hand you charge $400 for it, it will make it harder to justify myself for buying from you.

Quality products. Only sell products you yourself think is good quality. I dont mean to just sell your own favorites, recognize the difference between objective quality, and subjective favorite opinion. But if you keep getting complaints on a specific product, quit selling it. This way customers will have confidence in knowing that the chance of making a bad buy at your place is really low, if it was bad stuff you wouldnt have it. (One of the computer stores I visit quit selling equipment to protect modems from lightning strikes, because too many people complained they didn't work. Instead they bought a load of cheap modems, and sold them at bottom prices to people that got their modems burned. They felt that was a better deal for everyone.)
This does not negate the other suggestions of selling cheaper guns, and cheaper ammunition. Just make sure that the cheaper stuff is still worth their price. As long as a $100 gun is worth the money you sell it for, I'd consider it "quality" in it's own pricerange.

I also like the idea of a hang-out corner of some sort. Just a coffeemachine, a few chairs, a bulletin board with local news, and maybe a video running a selection of shows would draw people just to come in and see what's new. This would make the store a regular visit for people when in the area, even if they dont plan on buying something that day.
A possible benefit of that is that when you do get a customer with a question you cant answer, there's a pretty good chance someone hanging out in the store can. I've done that myself on more than one occasion.

These things all have the same in common that the small store offer something the big store dont, which makes it a better place to buy from.

3KillerBs
August 10, 2008, 01:11 PM
Another vote for top-notch customer service. I've been a waitress and I've been in retail sales and I know that this is easier said than achieved, but as another person said, a good salesman can learn about guns more readily than a gun expert can learn how to smile politely at the biggest jerk customer on the face of the earth how to provide the same stellar level of service to the person buying a box of cheap .22lr or a low-priced used gun that's been in the case so long you're practically giving it away to make space as they provide to the person buying the highly customized AR-15 or the top-flight, $3000 shotgun.

Make sure that women are treated well. Consider this story I posted on the Women & Guns board a month or so ago:
We were out running errands and stopped into the pawn shop to see if any used .22 revolvers had come in.

In the course of the conversation I commented on how much I like the feel of the little Taurus .22 with the tip-up barrel but I needed to carry something that makes bigger holes.

I continue on for a few moments looking at the guns and the salesman asks, "How about this one?" then hands me a very nice, Taurus .44 magnum revolver that they had used with a quite reasonable price tag. Unfortunately, the thing is so big that I can't come anywhere near reaching the trigger since my hands are so small. LOL

But I liked the fact that with a lady looking at used revolvers, expressing a desire to make larger holes than a .22, and commenting on liking the Taurus grips he casually handed a small woman a .44magnum without the faintest hint of "women should stick to small calibers" attitude that I've heard of here and on other gun forums.

And that pawn shop is the less friendly, less helpful, less accommodating of the 2 reputable gun-buying places in town (the other pawn shop having a very iffy feel about it that had us turning around to leave almost as soon as we'd gotten in). BTW -- that's part of what I mean about sales talent -- paying attention to the customers and being proactive about offering things they want even though they don't know they want them.

Same for new shooters. Do something to promote youth shooting -- if only featuring a rack of Crickett rifles.

Stock both defensive and hunting targets. Stock the necessary targets for the various NRA qualifications and maybe even keep a bragging board for customers to track their progress and compete with other customers.

Be upfront about things you can't change. The owner of our favorite gun shop is upfront and honest about the fact that he can't pay as high a price for used guns that a person might get in a private sale -- because he has regulations to obey, paperwork to track, and limited space in his inventory. Nor can he sell them as low as a private seller might because if he doesn't make a profit on the deal he doesn't stay in business. BUT we make him our first choice for used guns because we know that anything we buy from him has been cleaned, was checked by experts, and can be expected to function correctly. Sellers choose him because he pays cash now without the difficulty of running an ad and vetting potential buyers.

Realbigo
August 10, 2008, 01:13 PM
A wide variety of newer handguns for rent, so that folks can try out things before they buy them.

RNB65
August 10, 2008, 01:20 PM
Less emphasis on hunting and more emphasis on target/clay/fun shooting. Black rifles, target rifles/handguns, target specific accessories, etc. Quality stuff and not just cheap Uncle Mike's crap.

Hunting is a dying sport and gun stores that cater extensively to hunters are going to die with it. 90% of my shooting equipment was bought online (Midway, Natchez, etc.) because the local gun stores don't stock what I want.

kingpin008
August 10, 2008, 01:31 PM
I don't mean to single RonE out, but he brings up a point that I hadn't thought about - gun shop employees who open carry.

Personally, I wish more gun shop folks would open carry while in the store. Of the few shops I know of and visit in my area, only one has staff that open carry and to me, it gives the impression of professionality. It's just a tool, ya know? Where I live (Maryland) neither OC nor CCW is legal for common citizens, so it's really refreshing when people who are allowed to excercise those rights do so.

Just my .02

Happiness Is A Warm Gun
August 10, 2008, 01:37 PM
I hate seeing bubba behind he counter with a pistol strapped to his side. Wearing a handgun may be advertising in some peoples minds, but it turns me off. Put your personal pistol under or behind the counter.

Really? Do you wish cops would start conceal carrying or keeping their pistols in the patrol car out of sight.

This statement just seems bizarre to me.

Drgong
August 10, 2008, 01:43 PM
Been thinking about this (I don't have the finances, but would love to be a gun shop owner as well, perhaps that will be my "retirement" job.

1. Good service, and train any employee to be quite alright to say "I don't know, but I will look it up"

2. Find a women who knows her stuff, and then make a day "ladies day" where the girl is present and can help any women with there needs, women many time feel better talking to another women when it comes to guns and such.

3. as for the food, get a drink machine and a vending machine, better yet, sell the space for a vendor to sell stuff though machines. Lets you focus on selling shooting supplies but still get reveanue and lets people get some crackers and a soda.

4. Have good lighting, nothing worse then a gunstore that is a cave.

5. Keep your guns rotating, if you have a gun that not selling, put it on a auction site and get some cash to buy something new.

6. have a range of guns, for example, if you have 1911s, have some Kimbers, but also stock some RIAs.

7. I don't mind if the local store won't buy my old guns, but be willing to trade in stuff and also offer consignment.

8. Have some T shirts and such, as I know from my experience in retail, that that Shirts and hats are high margin goods. I know for example I would love to find a "Don't tread on me" or Molon labe type shirt.

9. Have information on how to join the NRA and other pro gun groups, also check to see what the groups have in the way of programs to sign members up.

10. Keep a few things that are "Cool" in stock. such as a a Barrett .50 cal or something.

Crow1108
August 10, 2008, 02:01 PM
Something I just thought about to add to the above: Donate a small amount of the proceeds to the NRA/GOA/other second amendment groups, and maybe even a few pro-gun political candidates. It doesn't have to be a huge amount. These are the guys who keep our rights intact so we can buy firearms and ammo.

Malice
August 10, 2008, 02:03 PM
My single biggest suggestion to someone who is thinking about opening a gun shop:

Tags and labeling. When I go to Wal-Mart, and I pick up a can of beans, I immediately know the exact price, what kind of beans they are, what company canned them, etc.

When I go to a gun store (most of them anyway), the guns under the glass/on the racks have little yellow tags tied to the trigger guard. They are handwritten in cursive script or ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ".45 ACP" on one side, and maybe the price if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, the price is on the other side, face down.

I am not saying you need to open a printing press in the back. All you need is software you probably already have and label-paper for your printer.

The tag should say in 20 point Times New Roman font

"Rock Island 1911, Fullsize Tactical

Caliber: .45 ACP

Type: Single Action Only

Condition: Store Stock, New ( or Store Stock, Used; Consignment, Used)

Price: (in bigger font, maybe) $425

Ask us about it!"

Any other pertinent information can go on it as well, but that is a nice example of the MINIMUM amount of information I should be able to tell about a gun before even ask to see it.

kingpin008
August 10, 2008, 04:50 PM
Good point, Malice. I can't tell you how annoying it is to deal with that sort of labeling system (the tags). I don't like to be the guy who just comes in to "kick the tires" and take up clerk's time (whether they're busy or not) but it's kinda hard not to with the little tags. If I want to see the price or description, first I've gotta try to decipher the chicken-scratch on the tag, which can be a chore. And then like you said, the price is on the back of the damn thing! So I've gotta drag a clerk over just to see what they want for the thing!:banghead:

Awhile back, there was a 2214 I was drooling over in the used case of my local shop. I hemmed and hawed for about a week on it, and then finally came back, cash in hand.I called the clerk over so I could function check it real quick before I slapped the cash down, and the second he picks it up he flips the tag around to see the price, and lo and behold - there was a huge SOLD stamp over the price. AARGHH!

Atla
August 10, 2008, 06:42 PM
Good ideas folks.

And I don't agree with not carrying in the store. Sorry, but I will be carrying.

NC isn't a 'open carry' friendly place, theres no law against it - but cops like to jack you up against walls and point guns at your head if they see you.

So I'll be concealed most of the time.

Keep them coming, getting some good ideas and debates out of this.

yesit'sloaded
August 10, 2008, 07:01 PM
Don't sell .357 and .38+P airweight snubbies to women as concealed carry guns. Ever. A guy told my ex that she needed a little snubby and I have not been to the store since. I carry a non airweight snubby and I practice with it constantly to stay proficient. They are not beginner's guns. My ex has a fullsize SA/DA auto in .40 that she can shoot, much better than a small cute gun that she can't hit squat with.

kingpin008
August 10, 2008, 08:24 PM
Uh, my fiancee has a 642, and shoots circles around me with it. She never shot nor even held a real gun before meeting me. I shoot far, far more than she does, yet she whips me with that little airweight. I'm not trying to imply that she's the standard - I just think that your suggestion is painting with an overly broad brush.

I say sell the customer what the customer wants, and let them worry about whether or not they can handle it. Just because some customers can't or don't like to shoot X type of gun doesn't mean that the staff at shops shouldn't suggest them as options or sell them to those customers.

yesit'sloaded
August 10, 2008, 08:29 PM
A lot of shops think that women somehow can't handle semis and need a small revolver. Snubbies are expert's guns. Your fiancee has a talent most people don't have.

Sitting Duck
August 10, 2008, 08:35 PM
From another thread but it looks like it would apply here.

Viking499 wrote: "Tried to buy a few used guns. Didn't want to deal any. Acted as though they didn't care if they sold something or not."

I find this to be the case at every gun shop, pawn shop, and Big Box Store that I've visited. One gun store guy wouldn't even look up from his solitaire computer game to talk to me. It's like if they don't know you they don't want to talk to you.

I don't like salespeople swarming all over me but some attention would be nice. And don't treat me as if I'm ignorant. Even if I am. Show me your knowledge and some salesmanship.

These businesses could use a little "used car sales training". You know, sell me something and make me feel good about it. Even though I know I'm taking it in the south end.

Sorry for digressing off topic but Viking's post hit a nerve with me.

Infidel Cowboy
August 10, 2008, 10:38 PM
What I want in a guns shop - in this order:

1. Integrity - be prepared to back up every claim made by your sales staff.

2. Honesty - Don't allow your sales staff to make claims that might worry you.

3. Knowledge - If you can tell I'm new or need help with anything (my aim maybe:D) make my shooting your priority, not your sales. Your sales will follow.

4. If you have a range, having a Cricket available with 10 free rounds for anyone under X age (with parent present) is a h*ll of an idea. A better one is having kid sized muffs and glasses available / for sale.

5. Honest, reputable smithing services on site - at least one day a week - and advertise it. "John Doe is here on Thursdays to answer your DIY questions, etc"

6. Be willing to tell me "No" or "I don't know" when those are the honest answers. If you say, "I can have it here by X date, have it by X date. If there are issues beyond your control that you could not anticipate, call me. Don't wait for me to call you / come in. I'll understand and appreciate your effort.

Remember that your real money won't ever come in one time sales. Every business is the business of relationships. Repeats are what make you money. You may make $100 on one sale. But, you can also make $1.00 a week off one person every week for two years, and he'll (she'll) be talking to every one they can for two years about your store. With any luck they'll know more people than me:evil:

Oh yeah, if you've twice told me you don't have that caliber / brand of ammo, offering it before I can ask the third time would solidify my repeat business.

I wish you well in your endeavor.

IC

nambu1
August 10, 2008, 11:53 PM
Some new and used guns at a resonable price to start. Basic shooting supplies-ammo, muffs, targets, etc. Find a gunsmith that you can work with. The little extras that you can offer your customers help. I had two friends that had shops and I did their reloading for them (they wanted certain bullets, powder, brass or primers). After opening, ask your patrons what they want and you can't go wrong.

Nate C.
August 11, 2008, 12:26 AM
Bikini models and free draft beer would be nice, but I think any successful business (no matter what the merchandise) boils down to competitive pricing and good customer service.

C96
August 11, 2008, 12:58 AM
You might want to go back and read Boomer's post, number 65 I believe.

Most people want superior service and inventory at Wally World prices. Well maybe not Wally World prices, how about Wally World plus ten per cent.

To have a chance I believe you will have to be extremely accurate in judging your potential customer base and then serving them well. I suspect it will be a somewhat narrow subset of the overall business.

There may be a lot of clay shooters in your area, or none. There may be a bunch of benchresters or none.

Find out who you can serve that will pay you for good service.

You can not be all things to all gunnies.

You might want to take a look at FBMG's web site and see how they are doing for their market segment in the Salt Lake Valley.

Ragnar Danneskjold
August 11, 2008, 01:11 AM
C96 and Boomber are correct. Customers have to understand why a business is in business in the first place: to make money. It's not to make your life easier or cheaper. They give you products and services, and you give them money. No money, not merchandise for you.

It would be great if all gun stores have an awesome gunsmith, all sorts of accessories, a built in range, etc. But then we would all complain about the prices of their stuff being too high. Customers don't seem to understand that all that stuff costs money, and lots of it.

Read Boomer's post(#60) again, and then tell me if you were the business owner, would you be making any money if you did all of that. And since when doesn't anyone run a business where they try not to make money. You wouldn't do all of that for free, so don't expect other store owners to do it either. Even if you think "the customer is always right."

Products and services cost money. As a store offers more and more stuff to the customer, the prices must rise in response. Anything else would cost the business money and close the store.

Let's be realistic with some of the "what we want" suggestions.

What I would want is for the store to be open for more than a week. And if a gun store owner followed a lot of suggestions, he would be in the financial red within days.

Marcus84
August 11, 2008, 01:46 AM
Great customer service as has already been mentioned not just employing people who need a job but people who will actually care about helping the customer.

Competitive prices.

Large selection assuming you have space for it.

If you have a range, have a wide variety of guns for rent and throw in a package deal if someone wants to rent more than one gun at a time.

Raffles or some kind of frequent buyers club would be good. Keep the customers happy and coming back.

It it was me, wouldn't sell beer from the tap but I'd sell cases of it. (I wouldn't want people drinking around guns). A big selection of beef jerky is good too assuming the prices aren't high. These things aren't necessary obviously but could help your bottom line.

Wesson Smith
August 11, 2008, 01:56 AM
A good, updated, visable selection of 'black rifles' (our store hides them in the back room), and a nice array of 1911s. More bulk ammo specials- I just got 1000 PMC .223 for $350. A good holster selection is a must, but experience dictates that you'll wait forever for your Galco shipments. I also agree with reloading supplies, If my local store would get some nice stuff in there, I could easily be persuaded to load my own. A nice wheel gun display is always appreciated, as well. And finally, don't go ape**** with massive rack displays of 22s and 17 HMRs. Personally, those puppies don't float my boat. I walk right by 'em.

Wesson Smith
August 11, 2008, 02:00 AM
I see a lot of comments regarding "cheap" prices, or "competitive" prices. I'm affiliated with a local shop here in my neck of the woods, and I'm just going to state the obvious - you give these things away at or near dealer cost, and you'll go out of business in about 2 or 3 months. Period.

Brass Rain
August 11, 2008, 02:10 AM
The local gun shop/pistol range isn't really a friendly place. The people that run it aren't unacommodating (is that a word?) but people just kind of go in, do what they need to do, and leave. I wish there was more incentive for people to screw around and shoot the bull. Maybe that's bad for business or is distracting? But if it were my gun shop I'd have a couple tables or something and encourage fellow gun nuts to associate.

Marcus84
August 11, 2008, 02:21 AM
Yes tables are good. If you had a range it would be great to have a place for people to strip and clean/lube their weapons before heading to shoot especially if they just picked up their gun.

Norinco982lover
August 11, 2008, 08:53 AM
A bin of SKSs and Mosins that just says "enjoy." I second the Rock Island 1911's for under $500. Also, you need a bunch of those West German Sig P6/225s. If you could order me any gun in the CZ catalog for their price + $20 for you that would make me happy too...:D

kevindsingleton
August 11, 2008, 09:27 AM
I don't think, ultimately, that price is the greatest determining factor in anyone's decision to purchase a gun. If you're comparing two guns, and the decision is made on a $5 difference in price, you're probably getting into the wrong hobby.

I think you really need to consider your local market, before opening a gun store. Are there enough "gun nuts" in your area to support a store? Are there enough "old farts" with nothing better to do than hang around a gun store and provide atmosphere? Are you the type of store owner who makes people feel welcome, even if they're a little timid or uneducated? How about the political scene in your area; do they support what you're trying to do, or will you be constantly fending off challenges from antis on the town council?

How about your potential customers? Does your area primarily hunt? Hunt what? Dove? Ducks? Deer? Turkey? Hogs? Prairie dogs? Where does your expertise lie? Smithing? Shotguns? Reloading? Benchrest? Bullseye?

If you're trying to please everyone, you're destined to fail, and/or MidwayUSA already has you beat. Find your niche, based on what your market wants and needs. Trust me: it's not hot dogs and ice cold soda.

The range is a good idea, depending on the weather. You can't possibly stock everything a customer might ask for, so be sure you know where to get what they need, quickly. Find somewhere to get new or once-fired shotgun hulls. Keep reloading supplies in stock and organized. Have the occasional sale. Advertise, if possible. Participate in the local shooting community. Be a responsible corporate citizen.

The one thing I think turns customers off, the most, is being ignored when they're in your shop. Do not let a customer stand leaning over your counter trying to see the price tag waving from the trigger guard of a rifle without asking if you can help, even if it means disengaging from Old Fart #2, with whom you've been conversing since the store opened, this morning. OF#2 isn't going to buy anything, and the leaning customer won't, either, if he can't get your attention.

WayneConrad
August 11, 2008, 09:33 AM
Unlike some of the "I want everything at wholesale prices with dancing girls to boot" fantasies that would put you out of business in a week, Infidel Cowboy has the winning formula.

Someone else mentioned looking up FBMG and seeing what they're doing. I think you're going to find it starts with Infidel Cowboy's formula, a gigantic pile of starting capital that doesn't seem large enough after all, some worry, and tons of hard work. Small businesses are built on acumen and the desire to work 14 hour days.

SuperNaut
August 11, 2008, 12:19 PM
Someone else mentioned looking up FBMG and seeing what they're doing.

FBMG has definitely found a local niche IMO but I'm not sure The Great Wall O' AK is something that would fly in other states. ;)

The crew over there would be hard to replicate as well. All are from quite varied backgrounds and not typical gun store fare. For example if I go to another store and the guy beind the counter sez: "This is what you really want," I immediately know he's going to show me something I really don't want. But when Larry sez: "This is what you really want,' it usually is. If in the off-chance it isn't; it is still usually something interesting.

Now some of the responses ITT have been pretty much a blue-print for exactly what I hate about gun-stores. A few more have been spot on.

My criteria would be:

Spacious

Clean

Well-lit

Temperature controlled

No dead animals on the walls (that is for hunting lodges IMO)

Well labeled and deep parts inventory (esp. 1911 and 870)

Some sort of easily grokked logic to the store layout

A place to sit. I feel the need to expand upon this one. At a gun store you have to wait a lot: Wait for your preferred sales dude, wait for your background check, wait for the 'Smith, wait for the internet search, wait for the rep call, wait for a lane, etc. etc. It sucks to either stand around, or lean on the signs on the glass counters that say "don't lean on the glass."

Call me uptight but, no Confederate flags or Nazi memorabilia.

Carry something cool that no other store in your area has. A neat collection, a highly specialized arm, a fun video game, a petting zoo - whatever. Just set yourself apart.

Finally, some laughter and smiles. I hate going into gunstores where everyone has their Clint Eastwood on; yeah you're a hard-ass, congratulations.

Note: It wouldn't hurt to hire a guy that is young, knowledgeable yet easy-going, has a piercing or tat, maybe some colored-hair. You want to get the next-gen to feel comfortable enough to throw their Benjamin's in your direction.

fletcher
August 11, 2008, 12:48 PM
Good luck if you decide to start your store.

Some recommendations:

- Just because 1911s and Glocks are popular doesn't mean that 80% of the display case should be stocked with them. Use displays for variety, keep duplicates and extremely similar items in the vault unless you've got empty space.
- If possible, employ a reliable gunsmith. IMO, decent-good work and communication is better than excellent work and having your gun essentially disappear for a year.
- Carry pocket guns. These things are very popular, and from what I see, usually unavailable or severely understocked locally.
- If you have a range with rental guns, have rentals that match up with the best sellers, with some variety, and are focused more on the middle price range.
- Offer reasonably priced FFL transfers. This can't be said enough.
- Have a place to sit down, even if it's just a bench outside the store.
- One thing I like about a local store is that they keep a water cooler with the little cups out for customers. Something like this or a water fountain would be great if you have a range.
- Put some Oleg posters on the walls :p

jimbob86
August 11, 2008, 01:27 PM
#1: Integrity. If you say you will order me a box of X, and I come back 3,6 and 9 weeks later and you don't have it, telling me each time that you tried/forgot/got it in and sold it, I'll start to realize you don't mean what you say.

#2 A range, with rentals. The hardest thing to find is a place to shoot, and Wallyworld will never be able to provide that. Not to mention the fact that this will help sell ammo (our local range stipulates using their ammo in their guns, which makes sense to me- I would not let someone bring in their handloads to beat up my guns!).

#3 A Carry friendly environment/attitude. If you don't like the idea of a pistol on my hip, I don't like the idea of giving you any of my money. Wally World can't compete in that area either.

#4. A competent gunsmith on site.

#5 Handloading supplies, particularly powders and primers, which are expensive to order in small quantities due to hazmat fees.

None of the gunshops in our area have all these things. Some have most, but none have all.

CBS220
August 11, 2008, 01:33 PM
Staff who either know something, or don't pretend to if they don't.

jimbob86
August 11, 2008, 01:48 PM
Staff who either know something, or don't pretend to if they don't.

I'll second that! An "I don't know" is a perfectly acceptable answer provided it is not only followed by ", but I will find out" but by a diligent attempt to do just that, with an answer. See #1 in my post above.

Grey_Mana
August 11, 2008, 02:39 PM
What do I want in a local gun store?

1) Website with useful information. Including at least: address, telephone #, current hours of operation, picture of the front of the store. If you open 9ish, admit it. The website and the door should say: "we open between 9 and 9:30 am." That's a million times better than getting to a store at 9:15 and wondering if they will be opening at all.

After you get your website, list it with the most common search engines like Yahoo Local.

2) Offer classes. Advertise the NRA basic class as 'pistols 101' and 'your first firearms class'. Plenty of people are interested in owning firearms, but they don't know anybody and don't know how to get started. If you get a class of 10 newbies, who are they going to buy their first firearm from?

3) Adequate lighting, which means clean your lights periodically. Every indoor range lets the grime and residue build up on the light fixtures until we are shooting in twilight. Install enough lights so that gramps can enjoy your range too, and then maintain them.

4) Place I can wash my hands after shooting. I don't mind if the restroom is employees only, but I don't want to have to stop somewhere to wash my hands after I leave.

5) Place where a man isn't ashamed to bring a girlfriend or wife. Too many gun shops need 'a woman's touch.' Meaning that they are stocked with furniture Good Will won't accept, the floor only gets swept once a year, faded xeroxed crap is taped on the walls.

6) I'm always thirsty when I'm leaving the range. So maybe a vending machine or two.

7) Clean, working rentals that don't have any bullets left in them from the last guy.

8) Maybe -a video game or two in the corner. Or a comic book rack. For the kids that get drug along with Dad to the gun store.

9) A want-to-buy/want-to-sell bulletin board (depending on which state you're in, you might be the required FFL). Maybe a community activities bulletin board.

PS - Adverstise smart. Check every church. Do they allow advertising in their church bulletin? Will they let non-members advertise (usually yes). How much for a year of ads? Can they give you the first year free since you are starting out?

PPS - be sure to separate business finances and liability from personal finances and liability. Good luck!

Grey_Mana
August 11, 2008, 02:57 PM
Oh, did anyone mention 'Hire the most attractive young single woman you can' to work the counter? 25-35 preferable, but high-school eye candy isn't objectionable.

ZeSpectre
August 11, 2008, 03:11 PM
Support for CAS stuff. CAS approved ammo and guns and a gunsmith who understands what needs to be done to a gun so that CAS doesn't destroy it.

geojap
August 11, 2008, 03:13 PM
It might not make much sense because it would take up too much room with all the different makes and models, but I would really like to see a wide selection of holsters for CHL.

Also, lots and lots of OEM magazines at reasonable prices.

A good AK, something besides a WASR. A good AR, something besides a Bushmaster.

XDKingslayer
August 11, 2008, 03:20 PM
What do I want in my local gun store?

A good inventory. Of everything. Shooting supplies, guns, ammo, range equipment. I'm tired of running all over town hitting this gun shop for this ammo, this shop for targets, walmart for something else.

Knowledgeable and friendly staff. I could care less about the pretty girls. I'll sit across the counter from the ugliest, fattest guy you can find if he can answer my questions accurately and without belittling me.

And if you're going to sponsor shooters, forget T-shirts. Get nice shirts. Custom embroidered collared shooting shirts. I actually turned down a sponsor in a fishing tournament because he wanted me to wear a T-shirt with his logo on it. Everyone else in that tournament was wearing custom Columbia or UnderArmor fishing shirts. I'm not going to look like a sleazeball just because you're paying my way.

telomere
August 11, 2008, 04:33 PM
#1 Honest?/Knowledgeable staff - If you don't know, tell me so. If you can point me to someone who does.
#2 Range with rentals - And how about something other than every style of Glock in existence.
#3 No trophies on the walls - If I wanted to stare at dead bodies I'd go to Cabela's
#4 WTB/WTS Board - I've gotta come in to your store to check, and if I buy one I'll end up shooting it at your range.
#5 Training - Specific classes for thing like basic safety/handling,CCW, improving accuracy, classes specific to women.
#6 A working website - It's 2008, make sure you have some pictures, and your links work.
#7 Gunsmith - If you sell them, you should fix them too.
#8 AC - I plan on being here a while.
#9 Sales - I'm always looking for a good deal, and I always seem to leave with more than I came in for.
#10 Be open on Sunday - Because unless I'm working I can't think of anything better to do.

btg3
August 11, 2008, 06:20 PM
WOW!!! This is going to be the best gun store ever. ;)

As to the local market versus THR input, the OP knows that the old gun store was "extremely profitable". So is he better off using the old store as a model or catering to folks here who'll never visit his shop?

ChrisVV
August 11, 2008, 08:19 PM
Knowledgeable staff, who promote responsible gun ownership, opposed to just trying to make a buck.

I am starting to do reviews of shops in my area.
http://spentcasings.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=28&Itemid=82

Vaarok
August 11, 2008, 10:33 PM
Have a parts bin behind the counter with spare small bits, so you can do no-charge field repairs, and you will win many customers. My local shops both do, and I return their courtesy with frequent patronage.

bigfatdave
August 11, 2008, 11:18 PM
-Have a gun tool library. Boresighters, left-handed-whatzit tools, AR-15 sight adjusters, etc.
Best. Idea. Ever!
For that matter, let me use your bench & vise. Apartment dwellers don't have room for their own reloading bench, fire safe, and dedicated "gun room". Having access to tools at the shop would get me in and spending money more often.

I agree on having knowledgeable female staff. The owner of a large local shop we frequent has [tiny] hands the same size as MrsBFD's, and had some great advice on what to try out.

I experienced a great used gun + range tactic today.
This local shop will let you shoot their used handguns on their range with their ammo. No range fee, but if you don't buy, there is a $20 cleaning fee.
We were sure to buy this gun assuming it didn't malfunction ... but I admit that the $20 cleaning fee was probably a subconscious factor in the shop's favor.

Also the staff being willing to admit "I don't know" is a plus. I can respect honesty, but I also will never return if I detect guessing.

Also, I'd be willing to use your reloads on your range, assuming the liability issue was covered.

42
August 12, 2008, 07:49 AM
you could always run thr in the background and use tthat to answer questions.

ieszu
August 12, 2008, 09:53 AM
For that matter, let me use your bench & vise. Apartment dwellers don't have room for their own reloading bench, fire safe, and dedicated "gun room". Having access to tools at the shop would get me in and spending money more often.

This is a recipe for disaster.

Simple advice is fine to give, but allowing people to use your tools is crazy. Because the work is done in your shop, you are liable for any damage that may occur. Plus the work that may have gone to your gunsmith, because of a customers lack of space to do the work themselves, would bring in some income. That is guaranteed income, not theoretical income that might happen because someone is spending more time in the store.

As a gunsmith, I don't like other people using my tools, unless I know them really well. It is not that I am selfish, but do you know what happens when someone runs a file over hardened metal? It ruins the file, which is more money out of pocket that will not be recoverable. And that has happened to me too more than once.

I have always kept most of my tools in the back room where I did the gunsmithing (next to the other equipment) and only kept a complete set of screwdrivers and allen/Torx wrenches behind the counter. If a job needed more than that, I would give a quote and write the customer up if they wanted.

conw
August 12, 2008, 10:11 AM
1) Staff who is willing to recommend items that aren't new, i.e. willing to say "Check out that police trade-in revolver"

2) Staff willing to take potential customers shooting and let them decide for themselves

3) A range and some trade-in guns to allow for 1) and 2)

4) Staff who know about what's on the market right now, and the real advantages and disadvantages, beyond the "Glock torture tests."

They put a Glock in salt water for six years and...and...

5) Staff who doesn't spread misinformation. I think there should be a strict policy about staff chatter about guns. This may seem counterintuitive, but I hear lots of Joe Blow customers in gun stores spouting off about gun rumors or whatnot (45 vs 9mm for example) and then the staff confirm it, making it "Fact" in Joe Blow's mind.

eflatminor
August 12, 2008, 10:39 AM
I always wanted to see a gun store that organized the firearms by intended use. Skeet guns here, IPSC pistols there, centerfire hunting rifles over there...you get the idea. I think such an arrangement would result in more gun sales for that store as people getting into shooting would have a high level of confidence that the store knows what they're selling.

Atla
August 13, 2008, 10:58 PM
Okay, some problems.

#1. Allowing people to use my tools/reloading supplies in the store.

HELL NO. The liability involved is insane. I like the idea of selling both tools and reloading supplies, but I can't let people mess around in stuff like that in the shop. It's a nightmare waiting to happen.

#2. Good prices...okay...

I'm going to offer a FAIR PRICE, everyone wants everything at bottom dollar. I'm in this to make money, at the same time as to promote shooting and firearms.

A business is run by having repeat customers, if I jack prices up to high - you might buy once and never come back. If I charge to low, you'll come back but I'll be out of business. I have to turn a profit to keep growing and keep the business alive.

So I'll charge what I think is reasonable. If you think it's unreasonable, you have the right to go somewhere else.

I feel the urge to draw a hard line on this.

I know you guys don't mean anything by it, but I'm not going to LOOSE money(and breaking even is just as bad) on this business.

I'll do the best I can to get you the best prices, it's simple economics to find a good balance between making enough to grow and keeping the customer happy.

#3. Used Guns.

I'll really have to look into this, I currently have no problem buying/trading/selling for them. It all depends on crunching numbers to see how profitable it is for me.

#4. Food shop.

I'll have to look into county/state laws on this. But something smaller is better, drinks and some basic munchies may work out just fine.

#5. Pro-RKBA Literature.

Absolutely. I want Boston T. Party, Matthew Bracken, John Ross, Jeff Cooper, etc in there.

#6. Free CCW class.

I dunno about this. Some people buying pistols already have a CCW, so what do they get? It may be to much of a hassle. If I can find a location that a small range can be built on it, I may just offer CCW and not even bother giving it free. This will require some thinking and debating.

#7. Cheap FFL transactions.

Around here, they generally go for about $25. On an FFL transfer, I don't get anything except liability. The ATF will come down on ME if the transfer goes south. Perhaps $15 is do-able to keep people coming through the store. Nothing lower than that.

--------------------------------------

I just had a few minutes to say a couple of things.

Keep the it coming, help me define the idea.

iowajones
August 14, 2008, 01:13 PM
How about having customers volunteer a certain number of hours per week in exchange for a discount? It would work especially well if there's a range that requires upkeep.

Or, maybe a volunteer could hold a free lecture once-a-month about a topic they are an expert at, like reloading for example -- or any gun/rkba topic -- in exchange for a discount. You would benefit by getting people into the shop who would likely buy stuff and the volunteer/lecturer would get 15% off. This also benefits the community by educating people and giving them a forum to share their knowledge.

caseypj
August 14, 2008, 01:42 PM
I'd like for my local gunshops to start carrying Armalite products, I want an Armalite AR-10 A4 SPR baaaaaad :).

Claude Clay
August 14, 2008, 01:59 PM
a frequent firer discount

kd7nqb
August 14, 2008, 05:45 PM
Here is my list some may find it to be repetitive of what has been said before.

*Staff that comes from the gun culture not the retail culture
*A good selection of guns and ammo
*Surplus stuff, mainly the cheap nagents and such
*Don't stock guns that you don't sell ammo for (used guns might be the exception)
*Staff that is ok with saying "I am not sure let me look it up for you"
*The willingness to let people browse without having a sales guy follow them around
*Always have a good and new answer to several key questions
*Whats the best HD gun for $500?
*Whats new on the shelf?
*Whats something unlike anything else
*Find an additional niche maybe your the only one who carries more than Uncle Mike's Holsters, maybe you have a whole section devoted to female shooters, but something that makes you different than a sporting goods store.
*How about a TV with the outdoor channel or DVD's of shooting gallery/ American shooter/ cowboys/ down range TV/ you get the idea.

pdowg881
August 14, 2008, 06:08 PM
Most important to me are knowledgeable and respectful staff. A rude employee is enought to make me never go to a certain store again and in the past I have gone to more expensive places because I would rather support them.

kamagong
August 14, 2008, 08:12 PM
1911 parts. I can't tell you how irritating it is to need something as simple as a recoil spring and not have it available at my local gun shops.

conw
August 16, 2008, 03:59 PM
I don't mean that no gun shops here carry used, I just meant that the clerks often steer customers toward flashy newer guns when they'd often be suited better with a used one.

I guess I could expand that to say "Staff that's helpful and willing to work with the customer rather than recommend the priciest item out of hand."

doc2rn
August 16, 2008, 07:37 PM
Put more than one revolver in the case. I went to 3 gun stores and a pawn shop to attempt to buy a NAA in .22 Mag. No luck, and no one offered to order me one! I had $400 in my pocket.

dalepres
August 16, 2008, 08:14 PM
The high lead and chemical content of most gun stores might make opening a food section very difficult legally.

There's a gunstore in Tulsa, Oklahoma that has a deli in the back. The sandwhiches from the deli aren't any better than the service in the gun store but I have eaten there and I have bought a gun there - neither was great and neither was really bad either.

The other things I want in a gun shop is just to be there. Follow the rules and the laws to the t so that you will be there when I want something.

Provide fair prices. You don't have to beat the online shops but you shouldn't be uncaring about the costs of buying a gun and the sacrifices I make when buying from you. Make some money but leave me some, too.

You don't have to carry everything or have what I want in stock. Have a couple in expensive high-end options in handguns and rifles and have a couple low end guns in stock, too. That way if I really want to carry something home today, I have a choice. If you don't have what I want, no problem. I know you'd order it for me with a smile.

If I just feel the need to talk about guns sometimes, let me hang out; talk to me. If you're too busy, I'll understand if you tell me when your slow day is or even simply say, "Hey, I'm pretty busy right now. Browse for a while and I'll talk to you when things slow down." Heck, maybe I'll spend money while I wait. Or maybe I won't have time to wait and I'll come back when we both have more time.

When I ask about a product, feel free to give me your advice and even to suggest the product you have in stock over something I may want to order - if the in-stock product will do the job for me just as well. If, after your suggestion, I still want the product I had in mind when I came in the door, then order it for me.

If you're losing money because you have to pay up to 3.5% surcharge when I pay with my credit card, don't be afraid to tell me. I'll pay the 3.5% or I'll write you a check (which you won't mind taking because we'll have a long history of business together) or I'll stop by the bank on my way in and get some cash.



If you do all those things in your store, you'll be very much like the store I frequent in the small town in which I live, and you'll be busy, and you'll be successful.

onebigelf
August 16, 2008, 10:26 PM
First thing, Reloading- Just powder and primers. Everybody knows we all order our bullets and brass and hardware online to make every penny squeak. The hazmat for powder and primers makes this the one place a shop can beat online in reloading gear. I don't order powder 20+ lbs at a time so I can't make online pay. Trying to make up for the bath they are taking on the rest of the reloading gear makes it pricier than it should be at local shops. So I reload ONLY with the few powders the one Wallyworld that sells reloading stuff carries.

Leave the stuff WalMart carries to Walmart. Carry the rifles and pistols I CAN'T get elsewear. Surplus stuff. Good solid used stuff (like Sig P6's, Makarovs, CZ-52's, FN hi-powers. Skip the basic 30-30 winchesters and remington bird shotguns. Enjoy the advantages of the flexibility in what you carry that the chains can't duplicate. Above all, be willing to ORDER (pre-paid of course) anything for customers, but with a smaller mark-up. After all, you aren't having to lay out for it or have it sitting on the shelf tying up capitol for months.

John

45Guy
August 16, 2008, 11:59 PM
A test range is top of the list. There are no places in my neck of thewoods to test guns before you buy, and that REEEAAALLY bugs me.

Also, good surplus rifles, such as SKS', Enfields, Mausers. The only such guns stocked with 60 miles are Mosin-Nagants.

mgregg85
August 17, 2008, 02:22 AM
I always thought it would be cool to open up 'Matt's A.T.F. Store' as in alcohol tobacco and firearms(notice the tobacco shop seperating the two). It would sell three of my favorite things, fine liquor/beer, good cigars/pipe tobacco and most important, guns.

I'm just thinking it wouldn't go over so well if all three were directly connected, so maybe a strip mall format would be preferable with seperate storefronts.

ferretray
August 17, 2008, 08:12 AM
I haven't read the entire thread, but I'll give you my two cents.
I've been on both sides of the counter. Unfortunately my employer was going through a nasty divorce when I came on board. While he juggled assets, firearms ordered for customers came in late, if at all.
Be completely honest with the customer, good or bad. Allow no gun culture mythology in the shop. Fact, not myth. I don't care about YOUR personal preference, will the item in question fulfill the customers needs.
New shooters will return if they have a positive experience. Attitude can be everything.
I'll give you a recent example. I call around the local gunstores, looking for a couple of boxes of .44 Special Silvertips. One shop, the employee has the attitude that I am stealing a few moments from his life and he doesn't appreciate it, but he grudgingly checks the shelves for a few moments. This is the shop where I heard one of the employees rattling on about whatever ethnic group you were not. So happens I have folks in my extended family representing the entire American melting pot, and I don't appreciate ignorance.
The shop I ended up buying from did not have any of the requested ammo in stock, but the salesman took the time to check with one of their distributors and apparently added my ammo to a shipment. They called me back when it came in the next day. When I arrived at the shop they were all busy but as soon as one of the guys was freed up he asked if he could help. Turns out he was the same guy who took my order (Very squared away, well spoken, member of an ethnic minority). I took the time to find and thank the owner for providing good service and gave the employee a pat on the back.
Guess which shop is getting my repeat business?
My hobby is firearms. I've recently bought two handguns and will soon be buying another handgun and two rifles. I've also decided to start reloading.
If possible, offer layaway. I know you can get screwed on this but it might be worth the risk. That customer you turned away because he was a struggling college kid who needed to buy in payments may bring in his rich buddies and will enter the work force himself, hopefully bringing his business to you.
I appreciate a clean, organized place of business with honest, squared away staff. Good luck to you Sir.

bluetopper
August 17, 2008, 11:10 AM
A large selection of discontinued rare handguns at cheap prices and offer layaway.

dalepres
August 17, 2008, 11:30 AM
-Have a gun tool library. Boresighters, left-handed-whatzit tools, AR-15 sight adjusters, etc.
Best. Idea. Ever!
For that matter, let me use your bench & vise. Apartment dwellers don't have room for their own reloading bench, fire safe, and dedicated "gun room". Having access to tools at the shop would get me in and spending money more often.

What you're looking for is a gun club, not a gun shop. Though a gun shop with room may provide facilities to a gun club. The important difference is that reloading and gun repairs should be done by people who own the tools. In a gun club, you're part owner.

dalepres
August 17, 2008, 11:34 AM
What's with the layaway? You're asking the gunshop owner to carry your wishlist for you. Use an online store's wishlist for that. Use your cookie jar as your layaway.

ieszu
August 17, 2008, 11:46 AM
It seems the consensus is that people want customer service, cheap prices, a willingness to order things that are not in stock, organized and offer things like layaway and if youd on't have a gunsmith on staff, have one come in once a week or so to pick up the items that need repair.

The problem is that people also don't realize the cost involved. I don't care if your Walmart or "Mom and Pop's Guns".... you can never sell as cheap as customers can get on the internet. If you do, you will out of business because you can't pay your lease. You can not stock every model gun in the world someone might want, it costs to much in capital. Please explain why I should spend $500,000 on inventory to make less than 2% profit after expenses? I can put the money in bonds and make more than that guaranteed!

And you can never lend tools that the "business" owns or that are stored in the business. The liability is outrageous, and one good lawsuit will shut you down, no matter the waivers you have them sign... besides the insurance company that provides your business insurance will drop you.

Understand your market and what kind of customer base you are trying to please.... Hunters? Trap Shooters? Self Defense? Reloaders? Mall Ninjas? Decide which ones you can accommodate in the space you have available... that does not drain your budget. 5,000 sq ft. might seem enough, but realize what kind of sales you would need to just break even. Include all costs, such as inventory, rent, staff, utilities, advertising, insurance, enough $$ to pay your bills, etc. Decide on a realistic salary, and price accordingly. Realize that every item you stock, you must lay out capitol for... you won't get a line of credit from any distributors until you prove able to repay.... and at most you will get 60 days before you it must be repaid in full.

conw
August 17, 2008, 01:55 PM
llow no gun culture mythology in the shop. Fact, not myth. I don't care about YOUR personal preference, will the item in question fulfill the customers needs.
New shooters will return if they have a positive experience. Attitude can be everything.

Ferretray, you're right on the money!

It'd be refreshing to walk in and hear someone like steve (sm) say something along the lines of "The most important thing is a gun that fits the shooter. Any of {these} calibers work, just get a good fit. Lemme show you how..."

As opposed to "Dis Glock has got a laser, and it can shoot if you leave it in the toilet for a year!"

leadcounsel
August 17, 2008, 02:56 PM
1. Concealed carry classes.
2. A good in door range with good ventilation

3. One reason I rarely buy guns from gun stores is the really high markup, the background checks, etc. I really like idea of being able to buy something face to face with someone. I think hosting your own "gun swap meet" with an entry fee might be a great way to make some money. $10 gets a person in the door for the night once per month and people bring guns they want to swap with other private owners or sell to other private owners. Kinda like a small private gun show. Obviously check in to the legality, but if it's legal it might make a great way to 1) get people in the door, and 2) make some profit and 3) when people buy a new gun, they also want a holster, ammo, scope, etc. You could make it a real popular social event with catered food, beverages, etc. and a great way for locals to get to know each other.

4. Low inventory of a large variety of items, and the ability to order and have it in quickly - supply on demand model.

the_right_reverend
August 17, 2008, 06:29 PM
sales clerks that don't try to take me to the cleaners:scrutiny: to old to wise for that;)

Floppy_D
August 17, 2008, 06:34 PM
More of the $75 K31s that they had last month. I only got a chance to get a few. :(

bigfatdave
August 17, 2008, 09:00 PM
dalepres
I didn't mean to imply that I want to reload or make major modifications in the shop, but re-reading my post I see it was poorly written.

The question was "what do YOU want your local gun store" and I thought getting frustrated sometimes that I don't have a place for a vice or more than basic tools.
I have seen rental garages in the past, I was thinking of applying the same concept to basic gun tools. The benefit to the shop owner is, if I'm in to use a given tool more than twice, I'll probably just ask the owner to recommend a brand/model and order me one. Also, renting out tools brings in money over and over, but selling them only gets you a profit once.
Some internet searching has revealed to me that most of the tools [even a mini-vise] which I find myself cursing the lack of are fairly inexpensive, but I still end up short a decent workspace.

dalepres
August 17, 2008, 10:19 PM
The question was "what do YOU want your local gun store"

You're right, bigfatdave. How can I argue when you say what it is you want? :) It's a great idea for a store.

So, going off topic, let me just add that if you can't find that in a store, perhaps creating or joining a club could help split up the costs of such items.

bigfatdave
August 18, 2008, 05:25 AM
The closest thing near me is a conservation club with ranges & dedicated hunting ground. We joined, and are hoping a fringe benefit is at least knowing people with tools/workspace in our area.

Rmac58
August 18, 2008, 06:13 AM
I'll agree with a few posters, no attitude behind the counter.

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