Gun store grubbing.


ed dixon
September 10, 2003, 09:25 PM
I happened to mention to an employee at a gunporium I frequent that my buys (all new) over the past couple years have gone in their favor, with only one handgun having been bought at a competitor. I said that price was more than a few dollars under what I'd been quoted at his place, and he responded that if that happened again I should let them know and a better deal might be offered. I said sure, thanks, etc. and basically forgot about it. Have since made my latest purchase at yet a third dealer. Here (finally) is my observation and question. I initially was a little impressed that a matching/better price might be possible, but since then have felt that the class gesture is to offer a regular customer your best price from the get-go rather than expect him to bounce around with an expectant look that might meet an embarrassing "Sorry, can't do better than that. See ya." What say you?

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September 10, 2003, 10:26 PM
I can see both sides, but remember that they are a business. He's trying to make money in a market which is becoming increasingly more difficult and hostile. He made a good faith gesture by saying he would try to beat it next time. Why should he automatically undercut himself everytime you walk in the door?

This post is not in defense of the guys in shops that are just plain Jerks (of which there are many). This guy sounds ok, though.

Don Gwinn
September 10, 2003, 10:40 PM
I'm not sure you understand what he's offering. When he talks about matching a price, he's probably talking about going below his "best price." He may even be taking a loss on that particular item simply to keep you happy.

Day before yesterday, I sold a gentleman a Toshiba laptop for $50 below our list price because he showed me an ad from Circuit city that showed it with $50 more in rebates than we offered (our beginning prices were the same.) Now, our profit on that machine was something like $12, so we took a loss on that machine, but it was worth it to us to keep him happy and hope he would buy some accessories from us. Like your friendly local gunshop, we make our living from accessories and services, not computers (or guns.)

My point is, I think $10-20 profit on a $1000 computer is clearly our "best price," but that doesn't mean we won't bite a bullet and go lower to keep our customers. Your shop may have been willing to do the same.

ed dixon
September 11, 2003, 12:50 AM
Don and Chip:

I'll grant that if he's cutting his profit margin that slim or down to nothing to satisfy me, it's a well-intentioned offer. But if it turns out I'm squeezing him that tight, and the price likely isn't going to be significantly lower than the competitor (now that I'm asking blood from a stone), I'd ask what the point is. Seems like being coerced to offer good will is only going to breed ill will -- or at least some guilty feeling on my part. He's not making a reasonable profit at the new price, I'd assume the competitor was making one since it was his original asking price, and we had to go through the uncomfortable kabuki dance of haggling. I wouldn't want him to punch himself in the face to prove how much my business meant to him either.

As far as accessories and loyalty go, I've bought some reloading equipment, a spotting scope and a rifle scope off the net over this time period because the differences in price were very far apart. Dozens of smaller purchases were made at both stores as well. The store I originally mentioned has gotten more of my money than my wife needs to know about, but ... survival of the fittest, free market and all that. When my own bills are tight, I don't buy or wait till I'm able; I don't expect a better deal because my mortgage is due. I don't mean to sound so harsh and I really do understand that many businesses are walking a fine line. I guess I'm just not built for the reciprocal wheedling process. No offense intended.

September 11, 2003, 01:04 AM
Ed - your dealer has his costs and his mark-up on each gun, but cash flow is king. Gun stores have a large investment sitting there in the guns we all peruse.

If he can't sell a certain % of his inventory -- even at a loss -- every month, he can't pay his bills. Great months even out the bad months, or you go out of business.

Take him up on his offer and don't feel guilty. If he can't afford to match a price, he'll tell you so.

Mike Irwin
September 11, 2003, 01:08 AM
Welcome to the world of business.

It's called cultivating a repeat customer to keep a repeat customer.

In businesses that have slim margins, this is typically done only with the good customers, or those whom the owners think will be good customers.

Hell, K-Mart and other businesses have the "We'll beat any competitor's price by XXX!"

That means that they're not offering you their best deal right out of the chute, either. Why? Because they're a business, trying to stay in business. They're going to charge what they think they can. If they get it, great.

A sale for a business, even a sale at under the price they have on the object, is still a sale. Even if it's at a slightly lesser profit margin, it's still a sale, and even more importantly, YOU got a better price, so you're likely to come back to that store again in the future. It's a win win situation for them.

Why should you be worried about being met with the "sorry, we can't beat that price?"

If you get that response, hey, you've just learned something valuable. The other store has a better price on the gun you want. Now, is the price really THAT much better at the other store that you'd piss away the headway you've already made? That's a decision that only you can make.

Trust me, there will come a point when you'll get the best price from them right off the bat.

But you're not going to get it with just two or three gun purchases. At that point you're a repeat customer, but you're not a prime customer. (Even then, though, another store might have a price that's lower due to any number of factors.)

When I worked behind the counter we had a couple of prime customers who could come in and essentially order guns at about 3 to 5% over our cost. Why? Because they bought DOZENS of firearms and tons of other stuff from us.

ed dixon
September 11, 2003, 02:03 AM
Because they bought DOZENS of firearms and tons of other stuff from us.

Ah, the rub. Well, I've bought five from them in a year-and-a-half to be precise, but I understand your point, Mike. When I'm in a position to buy dozens, I imagine these differences in price won't matter so much anyway. Notice those pricy gift baskets the movie star millionaires get handed at the Oscars?

I appreciate your slant too, Ready. I guess they're a lot more used to watching people walk away than I am doing it. Suppose there's a part of me that imputes a personal dimension to these negotiations and that's not so bright. (I do, however, hate it when they burn me because they don't like my face, and love when I get a good price because they see I'm a nice guy. Is that so wrong?);)

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