Gun Shops Suck (except when they don't)


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aeriedad
January 28, 2012, 11:57 PM
We finished a "gun shops suck" thread not long ago (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=636729). It kinda turned into a "customers suck" thread for a while too. I've had similar experiences to much of what I read in the 200 posts there, but I learned a little as well.

It's easy to be negative; harder to be positive. Even so, I'd like to see if we can talk about some reasons why our LGS doesn't suck (or, at least, why it doesn't always suck). To be fair, I can usually save $50 or more buying online vs. my favorite LGS, and the service there is sometimes great, sometimes not. But that's all the negative I'm going to say here. The rest is about why the place doesn't suck.

My favorite LGS has an indoor range. It's $5 for a lane, all day or until you're done shooting. That doesn't suck.

There's a large selection of rifles and pistols for rent. Pistol rentals are $5 a day, and you can turn in one pistol for another all day long for the same $5. That doesn't suck.

A basic range membership is $125 a year. It covers range time, protective eyewear and hearing protection for two shooters, and one free rental gun at a time. Members also get a t-shirt and hat with store logos (yeah, yeah, free advertising). The Platinum Membership is $250 and provides range time for four shooters and $50 off any new firearm purchase. That doesn't suck.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, they hold Ladies Night. For $30, they provide an all-woman staff to instruct other women in basic pistol and revolver handling and marksmanship. They even talk a little about situational awareness and self-defense. It also includes 100 rds of .22 ammunition and, of course, a free t-shirt. (I took my wife to the range a couple times first, but once she went to a Ladies Night, hardly a week goes by without her asking me when we're going to the range again). That doesn't suck.

Every two months, they have three Red Cross buses in the parking lot. There's free BBQ pork for everyone, whether they donate blood or not, but anyone who does donate gets $50 off any new firearm purchased that day. That doesn't suck.

There is a HUGE selection of firearms here. My wife and I purchased three firearms from this LGS last year. They were a little overpriced, but we talked to salesmen and handled probably 25 or 30 firearms at the counter over the course of the year. We got to shoot similar ones from the rental counter (no charge for range members) before making final purchase decisions. That doesn't suck.

As noted at the opening of the post, this LGS isn't perfect. But on the whole, it just doesn't suck.

What examples will others share? Who else has an LGS that doesn't suck? A small measure of mixed reviews are OK, but if your LGS really does suck, you don't have to tell us about it.

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ColtPythonElite
January 29, 2012, 12:07 AM
I go into my local GS's at least weekly. I've gotten fair deals, not steals, but no total rapings either, on used stuff more times than not. I'm mostly interested in used stuff and the owners know what I'm in the market for. When a new piece comes in they know I would be interested in the hang tag often has an inflated price. If I pass it by or look at it and hand it back, the price often drops drastically without me even making an offer. It's all part of the game. They know it and I know it. To me, it's good entertainment.

Beagle-zebub
January 29, 2012, 12:15 AM
aeridad, where in South Carolina is this gunshop?

Archaic
January 29, 2012, 12:17 AM
We had a great gun shop here in Texarkana, but the old timer that ran it retired. For a while there was only the big box stores (Gander and Academy), but there is a new one that I like pretty well. Its not as good as the old one with the old men and old guns, but its nice to be able to walk in and talk to people that understand me.

aeriedad
January 29, 2012, 12:21 AM
aeridad, where in South Carolina is this gunshop?

It's near Summerville, about 25 miles north of Charleston. I've seen references to this place by other THR members, though I don't believe I know any of them personally.

Vaarok
January 29, 2012, 12:30 AM
Back when I was up in NY, Creek Road Guns & Ammo in Morrisville was go-to, small hole-in-the-wall shop but great service and claustrophobically packed with stuff, unless it was turning over too fast to stick to the walls. Also K&K Train and Hobby in Utica had a pretty big selection and good turnover, though they were more optimistic about their prices.

Now that I'm in NC, I've yet to find a shop that carries much stock of used or interesting- it's all new handguns and new hunting-only rifles, with the odd Garand and M4gery thrown in.

doc2rn
January 29, 2012, 08:02 AM
When I was stationed at Naval Hosp Charleston, that place was a home away from home! Not only that, when the hospital refused to let me vault my gun the store let me vault it there until I transferred out! Camp Lejeune wasnt as gun shy.

Acelaw
January 29, 2012, 10:10 AM
I think I'm aware of the shop the OP is referencing. I know this is supposed to be a positive thread but that shop in particular has the worst prices I've ever seen on firearms... obscene pricing really. Like the OP said though, it's a nice shop with good services. I use the range there on occasion.

I was happy with the CWP class I took there

LiquidTension
January 29, 2012, 07:14 PM
Are you guys talking about ATP? I've never been there.

I've found several good deals at my local shop. They're willing to come off the price of used stuff since I've been going in there for over a decade.

Some deals I've gotten:
Stainless Marlin Camp Carbine 9mm $175
SPAS12 $300
870 Wingmaster TB $50
Recently picked up a new STI Spartan for $675 OTD

Their inventory is not great but every now and then they do get some good stuff from evidence room sales. Lawmen's is up the road as well, great LE prices.

Striker Fired
January 29, 2012, 08:19 PM
Its been about ten years since there has been anything I can talk positive about around me. All the negatives apply around here.Those of you who have good lgs's nearby are lucky.

FLCowboy49
January 29, 2012, 09:02 PM
Oh ATP....The memories on $$$ spent trying to occupy myself well at NWS...

aeriedad
January 29, 2012, 10:54 PM
I think I'm aware of the shop the OP is referencing. I know this is supposed to be a positive thread but that shop in particular has the worst prices I've ever seen on firearms... obscene pricing really. Like the OP said though, it's a nice shop with good services. I use the range there on occasion.

I was happy with the CWP class I took there

My wife and I took the CWP class there too, and I also took their Utah CFP class last summer. I thought they were charging a little much for the classes when paying for them, but afterwards I would say I got my money's worth. Five free range passes are included with every course, which helps when one or two (or even three) of my five kids want to go to the range with me.

I agree the firearms prices are high, but I try to see the business side of it. They offer services you can't get from the Internet or big box stores. Those services impose some serious overhead costs, yet they don't charge that much for those services (e.g., cheap range time). I would even consider their large on-hand inventory a kind of service that you only pay for if you purchase a firearm.

I wish their prices weren't so high, and on a lot of things they probably don't have to be. When I want bottom-dollar prices and don't care much what level of service is offered, I just shop someplace else.

OH_Spartan
January 29, 2012, 11:03 PM
One thing I like about a LGS...getting to fondle several different kinds, makes and varieties side-by-side.

My local sells on AA/GB for 2-3 hundred less than his retail price. I will go in and decide what I want, wait for them to post to GB/AA, then pick-up in person to save shipping. Ironically enough, they won't match their auction price at the counter. :banghead:. On the bright side, though, if I can keep the secret from all the folks that pay retail, well :neener:.

Fishslayer
January 30, 2012, 03:09 AM
I really have all the handguns I need... don't really have the $$$...

...and my LGS just put 2 NEW 3rd Gen S&W .45ACP compacts in the case. That SUCKS!:(

NinjaFeint
January 30, 2012, 03:21 AM
Every time that I am mad at my LGS, I go to a Cabelas and gain new appreciation. I stopped today as I was driving by.

Aside from the gun area being an over priced, here's your buzzer mad house and getting swept by countless individuals looking at rifles, there was the mass crowds of people who walk slow and people taking pictures of everything.

Also, one man was staring at the pool of trout when I came in and still doing it when I left 30 minutes later. I don't mean looking at it, I mean staring.

thefamcnaj
January 30, 2012, 04:47 AM
I love my lgs. Sometimes I go just to hang out. The guy that owns it is real cool, and doesn't pressure you into anything. When he's not busy he likes to just shoot the breeze.
The guns are always priced 30 dollars more than Buds gunshop, so that by the time you pay his ffl fee, you might as well just bought it there.
He also has every AR or AK after market part you can think of as well as odd ball magezines that are hard to find. He also sells bulk ammo for the same amount as you can get online after shipping cost.
All in all I'm a fan of his place.

Acelaw
January 30, 2012, 08:47 AM
I'm jealous of you guys that have shops with prices that are comparable to Buds

redneck2
January 30, 2012, 08:58 AM
Every time that I am mad at my LGS, I go to a Cabelas and gain new appreciationI'd second that. GM, Cabelas, and BPS are great places to visit so you appreciate the local shops. I still can't believe how many guns they sell at their prices.

I'm lucky. Have lots of local shops close, and I travel for a living so I accidentally stop into nearly all of them. Since there is competition, their prices beat most online places, particularly after you figure in shipping and transfer fees.

Only one place is a real jerk. Problem is, he has the best selection of reloading stuff so I need to go there once a year maybe.

For anybody in Northern Indiana, there's a new shop about 10 miles west of Plymouth on Hwy 30. Great selection and great prices. Nice guys.

jmstevens2
January 30, 2012, 09:06 AM
Even the local ones that seem to suck, don't take 2 1/2 hours to process a shotgun sale like Cabelas did Saturday. I just educate myself before I go.

Clipper
January 30, 2012, 10:08 AM
Well for new guns I have an old work buddy that sells (to everybody) @ $20.00 above wholesale + tax, and for used stuff, I have Williams gunsite (with its HUGE used inventory and world-class gunsmiths for anything I can't handle myself) about 20 miles down the expressway.

Double Vision
January 30, 2012, 10:23 AM
Some time ago I almost gave up on my LGS because of a few bad apples behind the counter. I haven't seen them the last number of times I've been there and they seem to have been replaced by good guys. Also, the owners are great. Their prices aren't the best but choices around here are limited.

Last week I went in to put a deposit on a pistol and the employee actually shook my hand at the end of the deal. That's the kind of thing that'll keep me coming back.

cassandrasdaddy
January 30, 2012, 12:16 PM
lol i'd rather herd cats naked on my knees than run a gun shop. gunnies are a might persnickety

smalls
January 30, 2012, 12:31 PM
My LGS didn't suck. That is, til I read your post, aeriedad. For $125 membership, or $5 all day lanes, i'd be there every day, and wouldn't care about a little price inflation on the firearms.

aeriedad
January 30, 2012, 01:03 PM
My LGS didn't suck. That is, til I read your post, aeriedad. For $125 membership, or $5 all day lanes, i'd be there every day, and wouldn't care about a little price inflation on the firearms.

So, smalls, what is it about your LGS that you do like? I mean, you go there and spend money, right? Must be one or two good things about it.

Regarding my LGS, I've seen it bashed a lot in local reviews and occasionally here on THR. It's mostly about the high prices, sometimes about the service. I would even say some of that criticism is fair. But on the whole, it's a pretty good business, and that made me think it might be good to see how others on THR feel about their LGS.

perdurabo93
January 30, 2012, 03:34 PM
Just about all the "local" gun shops here in Austin, TX area suck. The one thats been around the longest, McBride's Guns caters to either old rich white "country club Fudd" types who couldn't care less that they are overpaying at or near MSRP for a firearm, or ignorant newbies who simply don't know they're getting [redacted]. Their USED gun prices are generally HIGHER than the same item NEW from Bud's Gun Shop or Impact Guns. Its a great place to go and handle something new before buying somewhere else at a much lower price.

I like the guys at Tex-Guns since they tend to cater to cruffler types with a good selection of surplus rifles, but their prices are still pretty high and they just instituted a "no credit cards/cash only" policy that will probably be the final nail in their coffin.

The one place that is actually pretty decent is the local GT Distributors showroom which is a police supply catalog business that until relatively recently only catered to police/fire/ems/military types and you couldn't even go inside if you couldn't prove you were an LEO type. These days, they let mere mortals buy almost anything except certain ammo and firearms that are policy restricted or have a special LEO-only price (ie no FAET tax), which is a great change of pace. They have lots of store-wide sales where they sell 5.11 gear, magpul accessories and whatnot at below MAP pricing and they honor all website "coupon code" sales in store. Best thing of all is that they have a well stocked clearance section where you can get good deals on ammo and gear. Their firearm/optics prices are about the same or a little more than you'd find at Buds Gun Shop, Brownells or MidwayUSA, etc but generally the fact you have to pay 8.25% sales tax makes it not worth it to buy items over $100 or so. That being said, they only charge $10 for FFL transfers so its easy to buy online and transfer it at GT Dist since they're on file with most of the popular online retailers.

Fishslayer
January 30, 2012, 05:01 PM
I like the guys at Tex-Guns since they tend to cater to cruffler types with a good selection of surplus rifles, but their prices are still pretty high and they just instituted a "no credit cards/cash only" policy that will probably be the final nail in their coffin.

OH NO! Don't they know that domestic terrorists deal in cash only?:eek:

The DOJ said so...

somoss
January 30, 2012, 05:07 PM
I have had mix results with LGS but they tend to be pretty good in my area. I live in suburban Maryland and prices are high compared to online but I would expect them to. I use my LGS for everything except reloading and C&R guns. My favorite is in Brutonsville. The owner and his son work there, nice people who know how to take care of the customer. Last week I was looking for a pink cricket for my daughter’s birthday. He ordered it, told me it was cheaper online (I knew that but it was nice to hear). Told him I needed a case and sling to go with it, he said he would take care of it. I bought my Ruger 357, Ruger 22, a few rifles, and BP rifles. I have other LGS that are closer and cheaper but these guys know how to take care of me the customer.
to make it a perfect LGS for me I would like:
1) to be able to get to within a foot or two of his rifles so I can see them. The rifles are about 6-7 feet away and I can't tell much from that distance. He has the room but I am sure he has his reasons for putting them way behind the counter. Seems like there should be a way to lock them down, and let customers get fairly close.
2) No smoking in the store. I have allergies and cig smoke in a confined area can set me off. Someone likes to smoke in there. His store, he can choose to allow it but I don’t go in there as much because of that.

Inebriated
January 30, 2012, 05:10 PM
FINALLY got a nice shop near me. Prices are inline with everyone else, so no great deals, but they have a great attitude and a great indoor range attached. I'm almost brought to tears of relief when I see it.

Fatelvis
February 1, 2012, 09:53 AM
After frequenting gun shops for 25+ years, I find it difficult to find a salesperson who doesnt throw off some kind of "weird vibe". I'm sorry, but its either the standard "macho", the classic "Rambo", the studious "I know everything about everything", the overcompensated "nerdy", the not-so-feminine "chick with a bang stick", the grumpy old "ex-cop", the tatooed teardrop "ex-Gangbanger" or the owner who wants you to "buy-and scoot" type. I worked behind the counter for a short time, and tried to NOT fall into those categories when showing guns to people. I think this vibe reeeally makes new people interested in buying thier first gun, and getting into shooting uncomfortable...This is a bad thing. Sorry guys, just what I've observed.

Texas Gun Person
February 1, 2012, 10:02 AM
I have two very local gun shops (not including the couple pawn shops who have a lot of guns) and one semi-local shop.

One of the local shops sucks because the owner is so damn rude to everyone. He never has anyone in the parking lot because everyone is afraid to go there. He does most of his sales online. The other two places are fine and staffed by great people.

lonehunter
February 1, 2012, 02:34 PM
One of the local shops sucks because the owner is so damn rude to everyone. He never has anyone in the parking lot because everyone is afraid to go there.


There must be one in every town! What I don't understand, why would someone in business be so mean and rude to everyone?

Jeff

Nuclear
February 1, 2012, 02:56 PM
I had a gunstore in N. Illinois that didn't suck at all, decent prices on guns, a very good range with reasonable rates, and the people who worked there were good guys. Then I moved to SE Florida and could not find any of the above at any gunstore. Then I moved to AZ and now I again have not only a good gunstore, I have a choice of which one to go to.

RangeDS
February 12, 2012, 10:46 PM
Inebriated, name and location of the indoor shooting range you mentioned?

Dr_B
February 12, 2012, 11:03 PM
I love my lgs. Sometimes I go just to hang out. The guy that owns it is real cool, and doesn't pressure you into anything. When he's not busy he likes to just shoot the breeze.
The guns are always priced 30 dollars more than Buds gunshop, so that by the time you pay his ffl fee, you might as well just bought it there.

We must go to the same shop.

orionengnr
February 12, 2012, 11:12 PM
OP--when I retire, I'm moving to your part of SC :)

In the mean time, my small mom n' pop LGS is treating me just fine. If you are in the DFW TX area, check them out.
www.sportingarms.com

flatlander937
February 12, 2012, 11:16 PM
I just experienced my first bad gun shop with one that I found is about 10min from where I live(never knew they were even there)... went in there and one guy kinda had the "you're not going to buy anything so I'm going to be short with you and ignore you when I get a chance" thing going on. I wasn't buying anything, but wanted to and it wasn't in stock.

I called them with the model number of the 22/45 I wanted and they said to check their online store.

I checked it, it said to call the retailer.

I called back... he said they must not be able to get it.


OK. I get that, but just the way they acted about it bugged me. Not "sorry, it looks like our distributor can't get it and we're not set up to get it from anywhere else." It was "We don't have any, you'll have to buy something else."


So I went to the Vandalia Range and Armory(www.vra-ohio.com) 35min away and they didn't have the exact model I wanted(5.5" barrel, non-removable grips), but they had the 5.5" with removable grips for a competitive price with Impact Guns($20 more)... So they got my business.

The VRA range has a ton of helpful people working there(I think every one of them is ex-police or military), they are very good at making sure you get the pistol YOU want... Mike there said he was glad to see me renting a new gun every weekend to see what fit me best... too many people go in and just want to buy one, but don't want to know how well it works with them before buying.

The only problem I have is that their range fees are pretty expensive compared to what I've heard other people pay at other ranges($300/yr for one person or $500/couple... If you are NOT a member, then it's $14/hr for pistol lanes. Members have them free. There are other member benefits too IIRC, but for now I'm paying every time I go). That said, I have never once felt uneasy or unsafe at their range... based on some of the stuff I've read on here that seems to be a rarity.

They have range masters constantly on duty who are good about spotting the newbies and teaching them the basic safety rules and keeping an eye on them. My wife even got some free instruction from a guy named Steve since we were the only ones on the range on the very first Sunday we went to shoot ever.

In my opinion... that kind of customer service/assurance is well worth the money.

The only other problem they have is that they are sometimes SUPER busy... but that is a great problem for a gun store to have and I don't want to knock them for providing great customer service and them reaping the rewards of that. I'll gladly wait 5-10 minutes for someone to be available to ring me up at the cash register. Oh and I'll also gladly park 500ft down the road because the parking lot is slam full:what:

ljnowell
February 12, 2012, 11:32 PM
I go online and look at buds, summitgunbroker, and JG sales. I get a price on the firearm I am wanting then I add the cost of shipping and transfer to it. I then go to the local gunshop and inquire on the same firearm. If they come within 20-50 dollars, depending on the gun, then I will have them order it, or buy it from them. If its a 1000 dollar gun I will push the upper limit to 100 instead of 50. Thats my redneck psuedo-scientific method. I have only had to purchase three firearms online, the rest have come from two local gunshops over the years and a couple from wally world.

kenjabroni
February 12, 2012, 11:35 PM
Im still real new with owning a gun and visiting the LGS. The one we have near here has a nice selection of rifles and handguns (although Saturday they had sold out of a lot of their selection), and consignment guns. They also have bows and a guy that works on and fixes them in there as well.

I like their range and wish I could shoot for 5 bucks a day but I wouldnt have that much ammo with me right yet to shoot all day so it works for me and is priced good.

They are very patient with us looking and holding the different guns and we were looking for a nice gun for our son to use because he wasnt doing so well shooting my .40, and I feel they took the time to let him feel it out and pick the one he really liked. He also go two free range visits with the purchase of the S&W 9mm and hes doing very well with it by the way.

I just found out we have another LGS close to us and Im hoping that it is as good because they deal in reloading equipment as well and I think I will be venturing that way before long as well.

noshis9s
February 12, 2012, 11:51 PM
For Central Oregon:

Small shops - Great people, fair prices, usually some sweet local made accessories like holsters and such. Usually willing to do special orders and run around if needed. Usually a fair amount of trade-ins and consignments as well, which can be a money saver, and you can haggle them down sometimes too. The downside, occasionally you catch someone who treats you like trash if you're there just to look and the selection of in stock inventory is usually tiny. I like to at least fondle a gun before I buy it, so that makes it hard for me to buy from them sometimes, especially if it's a gun new to market.

Big shop - HUGE inventory of guns and usually friendly staff that doesn't care if you're there just to look because its not their money anyways. The prices that I have compared in the past were only $10-20 more than what I could find online for a brand new piece. Downside is they don't do used guns or consignments, have a less than stellar selection of holsters (nothing locally made) and other accessories and you can't haggle them down.

I would love to have a shop with a range and rental guns you can try. You SC boys know how to do things right. :)

aeriedad
February 12, 2012, 11:58 PM
OP--when I retire, I'm moving to your part of SC :)

In the mean time, my small mom n' pop LGS is treating me just fine. If you are in the DFW TX area, check them out.
www.sportingarms.com

orionengnr, I don't travel much. Haven't been to Dallas in maybe 20 years, but if I get back there, I'll pay a visit to SportingArms.

They have range masters constantly on duty who are good about spotting the newbies and teaching them the basic safety rules and keeping an eye on them. My wife even got some free instruction from a guy named Steve since we were the only ones on the range on the very first Sunday we went to shoot ever.

In my opinion... that kind of customer service/assurance is well worth the money.

The only other problem they have is that they are sometimes SUPER busy... but that is a great problem for a gun store to have and I don't want to knock them for providing great customer service and them reaping the rewards of that. I'll gladly wait 5-10 minutes for someone to be available to ring me up at the cash register. Oh and I'll also gladly park 500ft down the road because the parking lot is slam full:what:

flatlander,
Sounds like your LGS is a lot like mine. When I took my boys to the range last week, the range master pointed out to me how one of them was limp-wristing the 1911. No FTFs, but still bad technique. (Of course I had taught him better, but it had been awhile since he had been to the range, and bad habits can creep up without enough correct practice). Anyway, I appreciated the range master's friendly advice. Not at all arrogant or bossy, just a regular person trying to help.

And the place is ALWAYS busy on Saturday's. Even week nights, it can be crowded in both the store and the range, especially Tues and Thurs (Ladies Night).

writerinmo
February 14, 2012, 01:12 AM
I have a small gun shop that last year moved a lot closer to me, I had been meaning to stop in and check them out, finally did so after the move and now I check with them first on stuff. He has one strange little quirk though, if you have a firearm shipped to him and didn't give him a chance to meet or beat that price, he charges you more for the transfer. I don't know how much more as I've never run into that problem as he's done great by me so far, just called him looking for two handguns that no one else local has except for Cabela's, and his regular price on the Ruger P95PR15 is the same as Cabela's "Sale" price and he's about $10 in gas closer to me! He also stocks surplus ammo for my Mosin's and builds AR's, so I think I'll be spending a lot of my gun money there.

Kingofthehill
February 14, 2012, 02:09 AM
I had a fantastic lgs when i lived in SoCal (oak tree gun club) and moved th San Antonio Texas and the gun shops are awful. The only one worth a dam is powder horn. Not a big selection but great service.

I miss oak tree :(

Hammerhead6814
February 14, 2012, 08:25 PM
All the prices on everything listed so far do not sound bad.

Here is something that is so grossly overpriced it really does suck. (http://www.midwestguntrader.com/viewad.asp?id=58002358033101123)

There, I've given the thread real meaning.

drew747a
February 14, 2012, 08:34 PM
Moved to northeastern Wisconsin from Illinois. The Green Bay area has great gun shops.

C5rider
February 14, 2012, 09:50 PM
I frequent several shops around my town. Some for reloading stuff (but their gun prices are high), the other has given me what I feel, are great deals on used guns. Another one has given good deals, so much so that I try not to just stop by without some cash because they seem to bend over backward for me and, I don't feel right turning my back on 'em.

I guess I'm blessed. My brother was thinking of buying a firearm so we went into the one store and he looked at me and smiled when we were greeted with a "Norm!" moment. Yeah, I know the faces, and most of the names. :cool:

justice06rr
February 15, 2012, 04:05 AM
My local range/shop lets you shoot pistols all day for $10 and rifles $14. you can come in the morning, leave for lunch, and come back again in the afternoon and you still pay the flat rate.

Employees are very nice and always helpful. The range is clean and the sales floor is well-lit and maintained. Prices aren't that cheap, but its ok because I usually buy my firearms used from other sources

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