You wonder how small gun shops stay in business???


September 12, 2003, 07:29 PM
I stopped in a local gun shop this afternoon to see what they had in shotguns. I'd already been to some large sporting goods retailers, so I was aware of the local prices for new shotguns. The owner of the store shows me 3 different used shotguns. While they were in excellent condition, they were all priced higher than the going price for the same shotgun NIB from the local sporting goods stores. ***!

Then I see the owner selling a used Glock 23 with only one magazine to a guy. The price for the used Glock was more than what I paid for a NIB Glock 23 this Spring.

I guess, if he can get those prices, then good for him. I'm shopping elsewhere.

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September 12, 2003, 08:02 PM
they were all priced higher than the going price for the same shotgun NIB from the local sporting goods stores

Could that sporting goods store have been Wal-Mart????:rolleyes:

September 12, 2003, 10:01 PM
I can imagine this thread degenerating quickly into a "people who don't support their local stores are anti-American low-lifes who, along with their credit cards, should be thrown into a wood chipper for the sanctity of Main Street U.S.A." thread, so I'll throw in my unpopular 2 cents' worth while it's early to prime the pump.

It has become popular to slam Walmart for their effect on small business. The fact is, Wal-mart hasn't put ANYBODY out of business. What has caused small businesses to close is an inability to identify and capitalize on their differentiation from the discount giant that moved into town.

I concede, old habits are hard to kill. In many small towns, the owner of the gun shop, hardware store, shoe store, etc. may have enjoyed a relative monopoly on that particular product for years. They didn't have to worry about identifying their niche because the ENTIRE market in that area was their niche. Don't like their price, selection, or service? Fine, make the choice to drive 20, 50, 75 miles or more to the next town which has a similar store. Oh, you're not going to spend all day running around? Okay, here's your product. Thanks and have a nice day.

Then Wal-mart moves in.

Suddenly, people don't have to go to every store on main street to get their shopping done. They now have the convenience of getting it all in one place, and can do so at discount prices.

This is when the small retailers have a choice. They can determine what they can do differently or better than Wal-mart. Personalized service? Won't happen at Wal-mart. Higher quality of product? Easy to do against Wal-mart. Greater product variety and expertise? You tell me.

What won't fly is for stores to keep doing the same old thing. You used to own price & convenience. Now give those up. You've gotta learn to compete, learn what makes you different, learn what makes you better - and then capitalize on what you learn - or you WILL die as a business. Success or failure is up to you.

The opportunities for competitors should be elementary to everyone who has complained here about the poor shopping experiences at Wal-mart. I will occasionally shop at Wal-mart or other large stores, but I know of at least two small gun shops in my area at which I'd much rather shop. Are they cheaper? Nope. Are they more convenient? Not even close. BUT, they carry products that Wal-mart will NEVER touch, they have knowledgeable staff the likes of which I've never seen at the big stores, and they're friendly to those who come in.

I'm not saying it's easy, or that every business will have an ideal competitive position, but to blame Wal-mart for killing small businesses says that those business have no real competitive position to start with. Small business can survive - and thrive, and whether they do or not is not the fault of Wal-mart or its shoppers. So, after this rant, I wonder if the store about which txgolfer45 spoke offers anything competitively to justify their higher prices? Based on his reaction, I can guess the answer.

Campergeek, MBA
Raised in small-town usa; never an associate or stockholder of Wal-mart

Standing Wolf
September 12, 2003, 10:06 PM
What won't fly is for stores to keep doing the same old thing.

You've hit the nail squarely on the head.

Small businesses could and should offer service advantages that Wal Mart has never even heard of, but far too few do.

September 12, 2003, 10:23 PM

Only it is a lot easier to just carp, bitch, and moan about eeeeevil corporations like Wal-Mart instead of finding ways to do things and carry prodcuts Wal-Mart can't or won't.


September 12, 2003, 11:10 PM
I succeeded in the gun business with Walmart stores in town. But I never carried a new gun that Walmart sold. My dealer cost was about the same as what Walmart sold them for--their buying power staggers the imagination.

So I sold, like the other person said, things Walmart would not think of selling. And I would use good old fashioned salesmanship with my clients--something that is foreign to the kids working at Walmart.

I would buy and trade for used guns that Walmart sold, but I used Walmart's prices as the benchmark. That way there was always space for profit.

Yep. Walmarts are a fact of life for merchants. You can make adjustments and live with them...or go find something else to do.

My 2-cents worth,

September 12, 2003, 11:25 PM
Luckily for the gun shops around here, our Walmart has a VERY poor selection of firearms. If you can call it a selection. What do they have? A few pump shotguns, a few rifles and some .22 rifles. Not a Mini-14 to be found. :rolleyes:

Only thing I buy at Walmart are .22lr 500 round value packs. I don't bother with the Winchester Whitebox 9mm value packs as there's plenty of surplus and ammo deals out there that's cheaper.

September 12, 2003, 11:31 PM
Hell, I think Wal-Mart is a fine place to buy underwear, socks, sneekers, jeans, atc. I just dont it's a good place to buy my shooting needs.
But for you guys that won't support your local gun shop and insist on buying your guns, etc. at Wal-mart.......the next time you have to have a gun repaired you can take it to Wal-Mart......they should be able to repair it for you.:rolleyes:

September 12, 2003, 11:42 PM
It wasn't Walmart that I was comparing the gun shop to. Come on. Used is used. It should be less than NIB.


Standing Wolf
September 12, 2003, 11:46 PM
Used is used. It should be less than NIB.

I concur, although many gun shops have quite a bit of variation between the asking price and selling price.

September 12, 2003, 11:58 PM
Campergeek. I'll jump in too. Up here, Walmart was the first corporation to donate money to the Juneau Center in Normandy. The museum to remember the Canadian guys who died on D-Day. Up here, Walmart doesn't sell firearms at all. Too much trouble given our stupid laws. And I don't blame them. Our All Canadian Corporation Canadian Tire doesn't in most of their stores either. WalMart does claim to buy locally for their sell floor and that's BS. The two shirts I bought, Thursday, came from Pakistan. However, given that Walmart is a foreign company, they put up money to get the Juneau Center built. No government assistance at all until the very end. WalMart sells the same crap as Zellers, but they jumped in with money when nobody else did. I'll give them the $15 the two shirts cost me without any reservations whatsoever.
Walmart compared to a real gun store? No. It isn't the same. Walmart employees are exploited. Low pay. Diddely benefits. No training. What do you expect?

September 13, 2003, 01:05 AM
Scott, I apologize for hijacking this into a Wal-mart vs. small shop thread.

My post grew out of a response to yours, comparing your local shop (which you depict as overpriced) to your local sporting goods stores. From your description the place probably is overpriced. With your comparison to other stores and the responding post referencing Wal-mart, I expected that somebody would post with an argument that, out of principle, you should support the local gun shop over the larger sporting goods stores. I disagree with that argument on its face.

So... I guess you could say that my post was a response to an argument not yet made (in this thread). :confused: :scrutiny:

Anyway, it doesn't really matter if the "large sporting goods retailers" included the gun dept. at Wal-mart, Sports Authority, Galyans, Bass Pro, Big 5, Cabelas or whatever is prominent in your area. The point is that the little guy CAN compete if he puts a mind to it. This guy is obviously making no effort on the basis of price, and your post doesn't mention any other qualities of the shop that would make you want to do business there. That's a shame. Someday this place may be out of business and the owner might be griping that the big guys shut him out. That's a shame, too.

September 13, 2003, 01:08 AM
The local gun shop always tells me that their guns dont work with Walmart ammo :):evil:

September 13, 2003, 02:17 AM
Frankly I don't think most people go to small localy owned gun shops to get the best price.

They go there for an "expert" behind the counter (half the time they actualy get one), a gunsmith in the back room, bad (but free) coffee and to listen to the idiotic stories of the local "gunshop commando" :)

September 13, 2003, 03:18 AM
You guys still have local gun stores!? Gun dealers around my area are quite diversified, because they're all PAWNSHOPS!

Zach S
September 13, 2003, 05:41 PM
Some of the high prices are beyond their control, since theyre consignment(?) guns. Some places just price high. All of mine have been bought from the same place, with the exception of my AMT. There, I have a gunsmith or two, a range, parts and accesories, plus I can jung hang out with the rest of the regulars. I normally spend about 30 mins or less in the range, but I'm never there for less than a hour and a half. If I could do all that at walmart or a sporting good retailer, I probably would, if i wasnt in the habit of doing it at a local gunshop every weekend.

September 13, 2003, 06:20 PM
I agree with Campergeek's first post. Besides, the type of guns I buy, Wal-Mart don't sell. Niche marketing.

John Ross
September 13, 2003, 06:26 PM
A column I wrote on this very issue:


September 13, 2003, 09:48 PM
For any business to grow and succeed, it needs to change w/ the times. Several FFL dealers that I know have turned to the internet to supplement walk-in sales. They list items for sale on Gunsamerica, Gunbroker, Auctionarms, etc. They freely admit that most of their sales now come from their internet business. These dealers have changed w/ the times and are pofiting. My personal opinion is, if other FFL dealers want to complain and fuss about large corporations and the internet taking away their sales, they are missing the point of business entirely. FWIW.

Don Gwinn
September 13, 2003, 10:42 PM
Expertise and service are not enough. I know. My dad tried that and Wal-Mart gutted him. You've got to be a salesman, plain and simple. If you aren't a seller, you can't sell things for a living. One of the things you've GOT to do as a small shop "expert" is CLOSE THE SALE. Don't let people walk out and go to Wal-Mart after you've educated them on the best gun for them--convince them that this is the gun they need, show them the service you're willing to give, and ask for the sale. More than once if you have to.

September 13, 2003, 11:13 PM
Gunstore prices can vary a huge amount from gunstore to gunstore. I went a somewhat local gunstore today and was shocked at the prices of almost every gun in the store (new and used). I saw a few used guns that were close to normal asking price for other gun store but mostly it was WAY out of wack! I don't get it either because the guy that runs the shop is a nice guy but his prices are crazy.

I went in with three handguns I have been thinking about selling or trading, there was a huge sign on the front of the building that said "WE BUY GUNS" but when I asked him if he could work a trade or a sale, he said that he wasn't buying any guns at this time because the economy has been so bad lately. That is news to me because another shop in the area claims that bussiness is booming. :confused:

He would even consider buying or trading my guns, he just wanted to sell his guns for incredibly high cash prices. I can understand why he isn't selling many guns.

I don't shop for guns at Wal-Mart ever. All I buy at Wal-Mart is 9mm, .22lr and 12ga shells. Most of the time I don't even buy .22lr and 12ga shells from there because another local sporting goods store has them cheaper. I don't like going in to WM but a few times a year I will stock up on 9mm Win White box. I think I may spend $300 total a year a WM. I will drop $300 or more in one day a gunstore that has a gun I want.

The thing gunstores have over WM is that they carry handguns and the sell used guns. WM may be able to sell ammo and some guns cheaper but if someone wants to work a trade in, they have to go to a gunstore. Gunstores that don't take trades or ones that won't buy your used guns (at ANY price) are cutting their own throats! I have no remorse for dealers like that, they want to be able to sell their guns and ammo for twice the price of WM but they refuse to give the extra services that go along with their premium prices. I would pay their higher prices on some items if it meant that I could sell my used guns for cash or trade value on some other item they are selling. I don't understand what they are thinking.

I know several guys that spend a large percentage of their income on buying and trading guns. They will buy a Glock for $600 and a few weeks later sell or trade it back to a gunstore for half what they paid and then they will use that $300 in trade on buying a $600 H&K. It will go on and on like this for months and years with a shop making many times more money this way than if they just refused to do trades or buy used guns. I have seen people walk out of a gunstore smiling because they got a new gun even though it cost them a $600 pistol and $300 cash for a $500 un. :rolleyes:

It is funny but everyone wins that way. If the customer is happy, then I don't see the problem. These shops that don't want to mess with used guns and trades will get their wish because soon they won't have to mess with ANY customers at all.:D I don't see gun stores closeing up now that Wal-Mart is in town. I see gunstores closing because they can't compeat with a better gunstore in town.

September 13, 2003, 11:30 PM
Capitalism. Walmart can't seem to give the specialized service I like. I consider the expertise, occasional assistance and willingness to have me as a customer which is offered at some gunshops to be valuable. I know I pay for it.

As far as Walmart being cheapest on price. They probably are. I will go to Walmart if I can't get it at a gunshow or local dealer whom I like. I am a consumer. Offer me what I want at a reasonable price. I do not like the default to go to large chain stores on anything.

September 14, 2003, 12:42 AM
As firestar mentioned, gun prices can vary tremendously from shop to shop. The closest Walmart to me has such a limited selection of guns that I don't even consider it as a firearms retailer. Its more like an afterthought with them and I live in a large metropolitan area. Now when you start comparing prices between shops it truly amazes me that some of them can even stay in business, and no the service isn't any better. If I am going to buy a big ticket item, like a gun, I don't mind paying a little more but I sure don't want to get gouged. There is a very large pawn shop here that is known by knowledgeable gun folks as a total rip yet they still seem to sell quite a few guns to folks. I love to go in there just for a laugh and have many times seen guns that were 50-60% higher than some of the other gun shops. I saw a Colt Officers for $1000, Kel Tecs over $300 etc. Another gun shop I know of has prices that are also way out of line and I also know of shops that compete quite favorably with any of the big sporting good stores and some that are substantially lower. The point to all of this is that you've got be a shopper or its your own fault. There will always be stores for people that don't shop around, I just won't happen to be one of their customers.

September 14, 2003, 02:05 AM
I just read John Ross's linked column, very good sir! Reminded of me of a book I have and agree with written by Al Ries and Jack Trout Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind.

You see I was born and raised into a retail enviroment, spent 35 years with this business. Our Competition was the "chain stores", later we had to deal with the Sam's Club type.

Positioning--that is what we had to do to distinguish ourselves. We didn't have the monies the chain and others had for adverstising...WE COULD offer items, service, listening, honesty, and promptness.

I feel society "asked for it" in its desire to "I want it now" , "me ,me, me... its about me" attitude. One teaches one how to treat them. So we have the "convience, pricing, quanity...etc box stores. The small gun stores ( like my former life) have some good -some bad. The survivors find a "position" and fill a void the "box" stores cannot. The bad stores eventually die out...a natural occurence.

Granted I don't peruse many of my local shops much. One of my favorites closed simply because it was time to retire. 30 years of treating the public in a positive manner, service, respect, no dumb questions, contributing to not only the shooting sports, but other worthy causes. Teaching, buying/providing for instance a good selection of trade ins ( J and K frames) holsters, ammo and "seminars" for new shooters. ( for example)

Small shops have to "position" themselves...constantly. Lets be honest, some small gun stores don't really "need" some of the customers that come in with their pre-concieved attitudes--it is a two way street, this customer/business relationship.

I do support the local shops some, I send customers, heck I even call the owner and introduce a new shooter before they come in...or If go in with them.

I do scratch my heads at people that fight traffic, park the length of football field away, and in the rain the customers have to get their own shopping baskets from the parking lot. You teach people how to treat you, the WM employees were dry and cozy...the sheeple got the carts...

They flat refused to carry groceries to my mom's car at a WM store...but ran outside to hear the stereo of a co-worker. My local market, carries the groceries, butchers the meat the way I want it, and mom can call ahead and its in small packages for her needs when she arrives. OK it cost me .07 a pound more...whole lot better quality meat . Positioning-this little market is always crowded.

September 14, 2003, 07:47 AM
If I were a novice with firearms then I'd go to the local gunstore (maybe) for advise. I would go to the local Walmart store for good prices in ammo and firearms. The Mom & Pop stores are a thing of the past just like smallpox and scarlet fever, Hail progress! I'm waiting for someone else to come along and out do Walmart, it will happen some day.

September 14, 2003, 10:01 AM
Campergeek states:"It has become popular to slam Walmart for their effect on small business. The fact is, Wal-mart hasn't put ANYBODY out of business. What has caused small businesses to close is an inability to identify and capitalize on their differentiation from the discount giant that moved into town."

That is mostly disingenuous bs my friend. Evidently you have never been a small town retailer when WallyWorld moves in and destroys the local business community

Now I am not saying Wally World is evil, but to glibly say that they have put no one of biz is silly.

carp killer
September 14, 2003, 10:39 AM
All my local gun shops don't even stock cheap .22 ammo anymore since the WM came to the area. In fact one of the gun shop owners will tell you to buy the cheap .22 ammo at Walmart.:rolleyes: The only way a small shop can survive a "big box" store is to sell what they don't stock. So that means that the small shop has to sell pre/post ban AW's, handguns, used guns and hi-cap magazines. That is what gun buyers are looking for these days. Just go to any gun show, tables selling AW's and hi-cap mags are the most crowded.

September 14, 2003, 01:28 PM
As I'm reading these posts, I have to ask, do the big box stores in your area REALLY have that good of a selection? The Walmart, Big 5 etc. in my area, Phoenix, Az., have such a small selection that it isn't even a consideration in terms of gun shopping. I don't think any of the gun shops consider these stores to be of any real threat to their livelihood. The Walmart that is closest to me is also one of the huge mega Walmarts. Just curious because in my locale the issue is gun shops and pawn shops where the prices differ drastically. Mike

September 14, 2003, 01:55 PM
Wal-Mart's here (there's about 7 of them) will stock a few rifles, shotguns, black-powders. The ammo prices are good, but sometimes not good enough to put up with the traffic (people and auto) hassle. However, the local gun stores are getting way overpriced. Don't even think about going in and getting an "evil black rifle" for under $1000. Sorry, I have and will go to auctionarms, gunbroker, etc, get what I want cheaper, and pay the transfer fee. Oh yeh, the local gun shops won't do transfer's anymore, but the FFL pawnshop owners will. They've gotta change or die.

September 14, 2003, 05:32 PM
Quote: "I'm waiting for someone else to come along and out do Walmart, it will happen some day."

Here in Texas The Academy is doing just that. And most Academy stores are located close to a Walmart.

What goes around comes around.

September 14, 2003, 10:02 PM
Academy and Oshmans are giving Walmart a run for their money in the firearm department around the Dallas area. Both have better selection on rifles and shotguns than Walmart. Both carry handguns which Walmart does not do. Academy and Oshmans seem to hire people who know something about guns. The Walmart employees in the sporting goods departments around Dallas are pretty much clueless. If there are any knowledgeable Walmart employees in the sporting goods department, I haven't seen any.


September 14, 2003, 11:22 PM
That is mostly disingenuous bs my friend. Evidently you have never been a small town retailer when WallyWorld moves in and destroys the local business community

I guess, then, that the local business community offered nothing of value to their customers that Wal-mart couldn't provide. Adapt or die, but don't blame your business woes on somebody else.

It's easy to complain, but difficult to adapt. Another hobby of mine is home theater. Once, while shopping for my television, I listened to a local store manager gripe and complain that big stores and the internet were putting the small stores out of business. I didn't go back there because the bad attitude put me off, and rather than show me WHY it was in my best interests to shop there the proprieter tried to guilt me out of my money.

I did, however, finally purchase my television NOT from a national chain, but from a local retailer - one local to Oregon, that is. I found them via the internet. They learned to adapt and prospered for it.

What too many local retailers forget is that NO store started out big, and if you're not continually looking for ways to better serve your customers and grow your business, your fate is sealed. If a "local business community" has done things the same way for many years and grown stagnant, they are certainly at risk of being eliminated when a more customer-savvy competitor moves in. That's not the fault of the new competitor. In this case, perhaps it's time to close the buggy-whip factory.

September 15, 2003, 01:53 AM
In addition to what campergeek just posted, It has always annoyed me that some people think it is better to protect the businesses of a handfull of people at the expense of the rest of the community by keeping Walmart out.

Walmart may help some small businesses put themselves out of business, but they also provide products that people want generaly at much less cost.

I guess many would rather that people pay more for food and clothes and such as long as a few local business owners aren't forced to compete in the free market like the rest of us.

Sean Smith
September 15, 2003, 09:26 AM
I guess, then, that the local business community offered nothing of value to their customers that Wal-mart couldn't provide. Adapt or die, but don't blame your business woes on somebody else.

Bingo. We the consumer don't owe the corner store jack squat if they charge higher prices and offer nothing in return... as is often the case. Gun stores run like a hobby by dinosaurs with no social skills deserve to die. Boo hoo.

Partisan Ranger
September 15, 2003, 12:21 PM
I want to give my business to local gun shops, but their prices are simply nuts. At Shenandoah Sports in Winchester VA, they wanted about $540 before tax for a Glock 26 w/o night sights :scrutiny: . The clerk said he could order me one with night sights. No thanks, if I want to get effed, I'll ask my wife.

September 15, 2003, 12:50 PM
they wanted about $540 before tax for a Glock 26 w/o night sights

I know your pain. Around here, look for a NIB glock to start around $600 at most places. Auctions can be your friend. :)

September 15, 2003, 01:14 PM
This is the reason that I am very selective about the gun shops that I go to, as there are a pretty fair amount of them in the Atlanta area. I visit one regularly because they carry a good selection of milsurps, have a relatively low transfer fee, and offer good service. Their price on handguns isn't that good, so I go elsewhere for handguns. One shop has a good selection of hard to find reloading stuff there, and I go there for that. There are a great many gun shops in the Atlanta area that don't really offer much of anything to me, their prices are way too high, they offer poor value in trade, and don't carry much else that I want for their prices. So, I don't go to those places, and some of them have shut down. Well, I know why :).

September 15, 2003, 04:39 PM
I've never bought a gun from the Walmart closest to me. I'm not sure that I've ever seen a clerk behind the counter at that store. I thought I did once, but it was my reflection. Got tired of staring at myself after awhile and left.

My biggest beef with local gunshops is the trade-in and consignment policies. They're generally worse than the gun show dealers. I would be willing to take a hit on my trade-in OR the new gun - but not BOTH. I would like to see a Saturn dealership type of gunstore i.e.,
here's our cost, our price, and here's what we'll give you for your trade-in.
Nuthin from nuthin leaves nuthin...and that's what the local shops are getting from me. Most of them have policies carved in stone that are paving the way to foreclosure. Those guys need to work the law of averages and quit trying to make it all at once. Oh...and acting like I'm not the enemy (for even thirty minutes) would help as well.

September 15, 2003, 05:02 PM
Think things are crazy around your parts? Here in **********, you almost gotta sell you first child to afford some of the guns that are on sale. I dunno if it is the political climate, lack of gun shops (which there definitely is), but the prices at the mom and pop stores are just stupid. Probably the only place that is semi reasonable is Turners, but even then I don't really care for their sales staff. And for Wally Mart out here, they haven't stocked guns for the last year or so. I dunno if it was because of licensing or something else, but their shelves have been barren. Anyhow, even when they had guns, the only thing worth buying as a 10/22.

Nowadays almost all of my purchases are made online. The internet is a wonderful thing when it comes to cost savings. Especially on big ticket items ($500+) you really save on tax and whatnot even when you factor in shipping.

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