What You Want In A Gun Store


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MS .45
March 24, 2012, 09:08 PM
Hey guys, I have some buddies opening up a gun shop soon. If a new gun shop was opening up near you, what would be important for you to find there in order to make it a frequent stop for you. I.E. hard to find brands, knowledgeable staff, on-sight gunsmith/customization etc... I appreciate any input.

Thanks
MS .45

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Ragnar Danneskjold
March 24, 2012, 09:10 PM
Salesman and Range Officers (if there's a range) who aren't rude and condescending to people.

Ryanxia
March 24, 2012, 09:13 PM
I have a great local gun shop. I would say though that for me, important things would be;

Friendly location - I want to be welcome and be able to hang out and meet other gun enthusiasts.
Owner/employees who will take the time to impart knowledge (not bias, 'you should buy this', etc. )
Good prices of course, and just friendly easy going people.

As far as gunsmithing goes, if people like your shop there are generally customers who hang out that are knowledgeable gunsmiths. :)

Also, buying/selling used guns is key. I wouldn't buy half the guns I buy on a regular basis if I didn't see good deals on trade ins/ used guns.

Good luck with your endeavors.

Tomcat47
March 24, 2012, 09:18 PM
Maybe all of the things you mentioned!

Knowledgeable staff is important.

One thing that comes to my mind that is missing these days is loyalty to frequent patrons!

If someone is being a loyal patron to the store, treat them as a loyal patron!

I once looked at a Firearm years ago at a LGS. I had been in several times thinking that prices were a bit steep (not greedy,mind you) and when I asked if there was any wiggle room....I got a No, not really! I done a test... I said I will take it!

I had never purchased a firearm from them, however, I had become friends of sort with the sales guy over time just discussing firearms.

After the paperwork, I said this is my first from your store at not so great of a price. I will be back, and hope deals will get better.

I get what I see as Platinum Service from this store now! I have purchased over 30 guns from them...brought other customers to them, and even ordered better deals off net and had them shipped to them for FFL!

Patronage should work for Store and Buyer.....Always!

Apple a Day
March 24, 2012, 09:20 PM
Keep it clean and organized. If I can't find it I'm not going to buy it, especially with ammo.

351 WINCHESTER
March 24, 2012, 09:24 PM
Fair prices, decent inventory, ability to order guns and accessories, good gunsmith or know of a good one to recommend, knowledgeable staff, good coffee, friendly atmosphere, abililty to return defective new firearms to mfg.

blarby
March 24, 2012, 09:28 PM
Multiple brands of reloading equipment.

Not everyone is thrilled with the "sea of green" offered at most shops.

I know that RCBS has a more favorable marketing agreement/terms than some, but not everyone wants the price tag that comes with perks for the shop.

Someone knowledgeable in reloading ( IE, one that follows todays' trends, not just the last 15 years) that does the orders for your shop would be a plus for new sales.

Just my two lincolns.

MedWheeler
March 24, 2012, 09:34 PM
Instead of making us southpaws (an increasing percentage of firearms consumers) root through piles and rows of RH'ed holsters to find the few offered to us, set aside a few hooks on your holster wall for a small section labeled as left-handed stuff and put them all there.
Don't pretend to know everything. No one does. Instead off offering uninformed answers, offer to find out an answer and get back to the customer.
When a guy comes in looking for a gun for his girl/lady without her, chat him up first instead of reaching right away for the pink gun, or the NAA mini-revolver. (I actually watched a guy do this today with a mini-revolver, telling the customer that his lady "doesn't even have to worry about accidentally firing it, because you have to cock it first for each shot.") Better yet, suggest he look at some options, then return with her.

gutterman
March 24, 2012, 09:37 PM
Knowledgable staff-willing to deal-glad to see you when you walk in-you know--the stuff you just don't get anymore.

BUCKrub91
March 24, 2012, 09:40 PM
I dont want to be talked to like im an idiot if I call asking about pricing on ammo/ other items I called a local gunshop the other day that I haven't visited asking for pricing on .223 ammo and what was in stock and the guy I talked to's attitude kind of ticked me off.. and they will never see a dollar from me

A selection of firearms that other local dealers dont have for me that would be FN HK Sig
A selection of reloading supplies..
Maybe a small range set up to try out different guns
Competitive pricing
Discounts for frequent customers

The Lone Haranguer
March 24, 2012, 09:42 PM
To actually have guns. This is not being facetious. I have seen shops with just a few guns occupying a large, otherwise empty display case. This is probably because they are just starting out and may be working on a shoestring budget, but if they consistently don't have anything people want to see, customers will vote with their feet.

Clean and well lit.

Good attitudes on the part of the staff. I don't want to see old grouches sitting around and acknowledging you - when they feel like it - with "Whuddya want?" or "Yuh just wanna look?" :rolleyes: This is especially important with a large percentage of customers being women.

A selection of accessories, especially holsters. Having Milt Sparks and other custom holsters on hand is obviously impractical, but there are always Galco and Don Hume.

the_hustleman
March 24, 2012, 09:48 PM
1. Great prices (most important, look at buds)

2. Great selection

3. Helpful staff.

4. A range, no messed up rules (such as no pistol grip shotguns, no buckshot, none of that "you have to shoot our ammo" crap, no hourly rates etc). Only gripe I have at the range I go to is you can't shoot buckshot. I hate that rule.

5. Reloading supplies

6. Price matching other licensed dealers.

Do these things, you'll have customers for life!

paintballdude902
March 24, 2012, 09:54 PM
i have a dream of opening up an old style hardware/general store.


i want to focus on the gun store but sell a little of everything. find an old building in maybe an older area of town then have the hunting rifles and stuff in the hardware section then have a back part with all the modern black rifles and such.

abq87120
March 24, 2012, 09:55 PM
I have a great gun store. I live in a small town. The LGS has an adequate amount of ammo for the local demand. They stock a few guns. They have to order anything they don't stock and all of their prices are cost plus 10%. Knowledgable owner. Great little place but you need to plan ahead.

Ignition Override
March 24, 2012, 10:05 PM
A really good selection of military surplus rifles from WW2-1960s: few if any sporterized. A few nice SKS to spice up the other milsurp rifles can be appealing.
The only similar stores I know of are in Clarkesville, TN and Caddo Mills TX (n.e. of Dallas).

If your friend ever has such a store not far from I-55, Hwy 49 etc (for a drive from Memphis to Fairhope AL), I would visit and delay my arrival at the destination.

jk2008
March 24, 2012, 10:08 PM
Don't just sell new stuff. Take in old guns in trade, sell guns by consignment, have some interesting antiques or mil-surp guns and associated ammo. I love walking in to a gun store and seeing something odd that I've never seen before. If all you have is new stuff that I could easily find on the internet, I might not bother to stop by your shop.

Also, have a knowledgeable, yet humble staff. As a customer, I don't know everything, but don't treat me like I know nothing. An arrogant, opinionated, know-it-all staff is a huge turn-off. On the other side of that coin, while I don't expect the staff to know everything, I do expect them to be somewhat knowledgeable of and interested in their wares, so don't hire just anyone off the street.

BlackSky
March 24, 2012, 10:23 PM
Ample room to move around, well stocked inventory, reasonable prices, adequate amount of educated employees with no attitude

A.Rifleman
March 24, 2012, 10:23 PM
There are about ten gun shops near me in NW CT. Among them is a Cabelas. Some have discount handloading components and other used rifles which I want to look at the most.

The shops that have the rifles where I can reach them myself are favored. Some of those at Cabelas are reachable.

Here is what a local shop had one day.

http://img683.imageshack.us/img683/9122/dsc01449ry7.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/683/dsc01449ry7.jpg/) Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

CountryUgly
March 25, 2012, 07:25 AM
To me the most important is the attitude of the person behind the counter. Near me is a LGS that is kinda super gun store huge inventory and really great prices with monthly sales that will drop your jaw but the 4 times I've been there the employee's condesending attitude when asked a question sucked so I spend my money elsewhere. One thing I'd like to see is a try it free deal. I mean set aside say a Glock 17, Springfield G.I., S&W K or N frame, Charter Arms snubbie, and something like a Ruger LCP/LC9 and give the customer a couple of rounds to shoot out of each to see what they really like. It could be a way of getting a better sale (someone came in wanting a Hi-Point and leaves with a Python) and could keep your customers from coming back with buyers remorse (The LC9 fits in my purse/pocket fine but I can't handle the recoil can I have my money back please). It's just a suggestion.

dragon813gt
March 25, 2012, 08:01 AM
I'd like people behind the counter that are nice. That when you request to see a particular firearm they don't tell you don't want that one and then push another one because they get a bigger commission. People that aren't hung up on brand names and will gladly show you how every one you pick out works. I really really hate the sales people at every store around me. That's why I don't go to them.

If they plan on stocking powder/primers and other reloading components. Try to keep the prices close to ones on the internet. Charging $15 more per $1k of primers is excessive. I can live with $5 more. If they can't keep prices close to the ones on the Internet then don't stock those items. But that's IMO and I know most others won't agree.

And if the long guns are going to be behind the counter. Have tags on them with print LARGE enough to read with the make/model/caliber/price. I hate not being able to read the tags and my eyesight is perfect.

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jad0110
March 25, 2012, 09:16 AM
All excellent suggestions so far. I think the most critical are location and staff. Most gun shops in my region always seem to be located in crack town in run down facilities. You feel like you need to be carrying something belt fed just to walk through the parking lot, judging by the surroundings.

Staff is #1 though. As other posters have mentioned, a bunch of cranky bums sitting rocking chairs that are seemingly annoyed when customers walk in is a real turnoff. A staff that will take the time to determine what a person's requirements, needs and wants are, possible physical limitations (ie, some people with small hands and short fingers are probably not going to be able to operate a Glock well, which seems to be the answer for everything from some gun store commandos), then offer up several different options either in the display case or that can be ordered for cost + X%.

Communication is another biggie. If you order a gun or accessory for a customer, you will give the customer an estimated arrival date (like most anyone else would do). Note that date on a calendar, computer, smart phone, etc (something) along with the customer's name, phone # and email address if applicable. When that date pops up and John Doe's Ruger Blackhawk didn't show up, be proactive and find out why and provide the customer with a new estimated arrival date, without them even having to ask. Rinse and repeat. Trust me, having to track down the status of a late order is something that cheeses a lot of people off. Stay on top of it.

Selection is very tricky, particularly when just starting out and buying the inventory on credit. My plan would be to acquire the inventory with cash, even if it means starting a little smaller or delaying the start up. I've seen new shops struggle because they had to build credit up with the distributors and until they did, they were charged a higher markup which tended to make them less competitive against older, more established shops in the area. Talk to those distributors and find out what you can do to make yourself more effective (ie cost competitive) so that you can be successful.

As for the inventory itself, ideally you could stock everything. But unless you are loaded with cash to start, that probably isn't realistic. So you'll need to stock an inventory that aligns with the demand in your local area. I can't say what sells in your area. In mine, lever guns sell better than any other rifle class, so that is what you predominantly see. And because I live in a region with a distributed population, there isn't a lot of places to shoot .50 cal rifles (unlike the western US) and you only seem them in a store as perhaps a novelty or a marketing tool. Single action Rugers are hugely popular with handgun hunters around here, so you tend to see a lot of them with different scope and mounting options around here. But your area may be different.

I guess you have to ask yourself, and others, what people like to do with their guns in central Mississippi.

3KillerBs
March 25, 2012, 09:25 AM
Service is #1.

Cold fact is that most people who take the time to bargain hunt can get better prices online. What they can't get online is the personal touch -- knowledgeable, courteous staff who take the time to find out what your needs are and present a range of options for meeting those needs.

If you could get to Ed's Gun Shop in Vass, NC you'd see what I mean. :) It would take AMAZING savings to pry our business away from Ed because of the level of service we've gotten from him and his staff.

Also, if its at all possible include classroom/meeting room space and work a deal with one or more NRA-certified instructors to hold regular classes for both beginners and experienced shooters.

gunnutery
March 25, 2012, 09:33 AM
STAFF
Good knowlegdable (and humble if they don't know an answer) staff. Quick to listen to a customer's needs. Slow to repeat unfounded political rumors in an effort to sell more products (not that there's never any truth to them, but people need to be careful where they repeat those things as it can turn non-right leaning people off and potentially lose business or just stereotype us).

STORE
Neat, clean, tidy, organized ammo selection, reachable long guns.

jad0110
March 25, 2012, 09:33 AM
If you could get to Ed's Gun Shop in Vass, NC you'd see what I mean. It would take AMAZING savings to pry our business away from Ed because of the level of service we've gotten from him and his staff.

Yep, I'd rank Ed's as one of the top gun shops in NC. There was another Ed's Gun Shop down in eastern NC, but it has changed ownership. It's still a good place to go, but not quite the same as it once was under the Ed's name.

I agree with how to compete with cheaper online prices. You've got to offer something else, namely personalized, friendly service and a willingness to serve.

wasr10634unme
March 25, 2012, 09:50 AM
reasonable prices. ssg tactical has a hungarian amd-65 for $600ish. i can understand retail markup and operating costs but when i can get it through buds for $460 in my hands. thats alot of ammo(3/4 of a case). and ordering 3 mags cause they only had one wilson and they didnt want to take my money and they never called me???

BSA1
March 25, 2012, 10:01 AM
Having managed a gun store/indoor shooting range the MOST important thing is to have adequate capital to pay the overhead and restock.

The owners have to decide up front how much they are going take out of the business for themselves.

The owners need to realize that there is little profit in selling guns. The real money comes from selling ammunition, grips, etc. Give the customer a great deal on a gun and he will come back for ammunition and accessories.

Holster require a big investment and are generally slow movers. In fact some will never move.

As for a gunsmith I would rent store space to him as a independent tenant with a seperate entrance. This is a minefield and limits your libility. Also think about the damage to your stores reputation if he screws up repairs. Do you think the pissed off customer with a ruined gun is going to say Joe Hacksaw screwed up my gun or the gunsmith at ABC Guns screwed up my gun? Big difference and this is NOT the kind of publicity you want.

Store hours. You have to be open when customers are off work. Kiss your evenings and weekends goodbye.

Like to shoot a lot? Forget it. You need to be at the store working not playing.

Prices? The Interent has made everyone a informed customer. Discount your retail prices by 10%. Everyone loves a good deal.

Don't be a *********. In December I brought a rifle from a dealer I have a account and needed a FFL to have the transfer. Going rate around here is $25.00. A gun store I checked with wanted $100.00 to do the transfer!!! Needless to say I ran out of that store.

Oh odds are they will be out of business in two years.

BlkHawk73
March 25, 2012, 10:22 AM
what would be important for you to find there in order to make it a frequent stop for you. I.E. hard to find brands, knowledgeable staff, on-sight gunsmith/customization etc...


If it's a hard to find brand, chances are it's because they don't sell well. That's money tied up in idle inventory.
I'd much rather see a shop with a well rounded inventory but if I were to go that route, I'd also do all possible to learn what the local market is. What's the local clubs/ranges do for shoots and shooting activities? Stock inventory that appeals to that market. Once the shop is established, I'd perhaps venture into a small niche that other shops in the area don't address but are still viable for the local area. (don't stock 1000 yd guns if the longest range around is only 100 yds)
The folks behind the counter...I'd want them to be helpful and knowledgeable. If they're asked a question and they don't know, I'd hope they'd make the effort to find out even if the question isn't pertinent any longer. There's always a chance the question will come up again. A biggie is that they don't see themselves as experts simply because they are on the back side of the counter, something a LOT do. It's the "I sell guns, so I'm an expert" complex. That would definitely make me walk out the door. Keep the shop user friendly.

bigfatdave
March 25, 2012, 10:23 AM
Visible tags - I want to know what manufacturer made it, the model name/number, the chambering, and the price. Rather than having to point to the rack behind the counter and argue over which gun I'd like to see, just make the damn tags readable from across the counter or over the glass. Or put the stuff within reach. I'm tired of having to wait for a chance to ask "What's that thing there?" while pointing.
If you absolutely can't make the damn tags readable, make the racks/shelves numbered or otherwise identifiable, so I can ask what the rifle in slot #17 is, or if that handgun is a .22 or a .25 in the back row on the left ... but I'd rather just be able to read the tag.

Organized ammo - I want to know what kind of {caliber} ammo you have, how much a box it and how many rounds in the box. Sorting through a jumble makes me wonder why I don't just buy online, and then I just buy online. After peering over the counter at a jumble of ammo, half of which was turned so I couldn't tell if it was 20x or 50x boxes and none of it with a visible price, I just ordered from Midway online, on my smart-phone, in the car.

Stocked ammo - I'll pay more to get something now, if you have it.

Ditch the chump boxes - I won't, however, pay a premium on a 20x box of ammo that I can order in 50x, just stock the 50x boxes of defensive ammo.

Cheap ammo - Yes, I shoot the cheap stuff on the range most of the time, and I'll buy it from the Walton family's chain stores if you don't carry it. Cheapo 9x19, .45acp, fo-tay, .22lr, .223/5.56, 7.62xeverything ... stock a cheapo steelcase and brasscase (Brown/Silver Bear and Blazer Brass are pretty cheap) and you'll make sales, stock nothing but specialty ammo and you'll make an occasional specialty sale or sell to chumps who buy a gun and box of ammo once a decade.

Hours - you need one weekend day open, and one or two extended hours days on weekdays, if you're open 9-5 M-F, I work 6-6 on random days (and random AM/PM) ... I'll just order online or go to the shop with hours I can work with. And be open for your posted hours, I quit going to a shop that was suppossed to be open from 4pm to 9pm most weekdays (dude had a day-job and ran the shop after) ... but reality was that you had to call the day before, hope to get an answer, and make an appointment ... screw that, I'll drive an extra 5 minutes down the same road and go to the reliably open place!

Answer your phone - I may call with a random question about "can you order {item}" or "do you have {gun} in stock" ... the shop that answers the phone gets me in that shop the same or next day to talk about price. The shop that doesn't answer or is vague about the question I ask gets ignored.

Business cards - this sounds simple, and should be. Shop name, hours, phone #, and electronic contact (if applicable) on front, place to write down a quote on the back. That's all I need to get a quote when I'm comparison shopping, maybe include the person making the quote if it is more than an owner-operator shop.

Magazines -
first thing, if I catch another shop stealing the spare magazine out of the pistol box, marking it retail, and selling it as an overpriced accessory, I'm burning the shop down. I buy a gun and expect the factory loadout of magazines in the box, and I either know what comes in the box or I'm going to ask and then look up what comes in the box if it sounds fishy, the same shop that had iffy hours played this game as well, and tried to sell me a $45 magazine that should have been in the box in the first place.
second thing, organize your magazines (and speedloaders, I guess) at least by the guns they go in (Glock/Walther/Smif), and leave them in the factory package, adding another label for visibility if needed. If it isn't in the factory baggie/box, I'm not paying new prices for it unless it is something really rare, like a new CZ52 mag.

Safety - no, I don't trust that every gun in your case is unloaded without checking, and neither should you. Either chamber-flag (hey, something to put a visible label on!) the guns or visibly clear them with the muzzle in a safe direction. And have a safe direction, whether it is a box of old catalogs and paper junk behind the counter or a stuffed critter up high on the wall.

Politics - quit jabbering about politics
Women - if you piss off my wife, I'm not coming back, she doesn't want a pink 5-shot revolver and is probably better armed than the clown trying to sell her a "ladies' gun" ever will be, and the condescending morons at the big-box stores are the worst about this, she'll ask if they can get in a Springfield XD subcompact, because there's just fullsize in the case, and they try to shove a cheapo pink J-Frame knockoff or a .22 mousegun into her hands. MrsBFD likes mouseguns as toys, and so do I, but when we're asking about an carry-type autopistol we don't want to see the Beretta Minx. (OK, I want to see the Minx, but just because they're adorable, don't suggest that she should carry it when she's looking for a specific gun)

Numeric
March 25, 2012, 10:53 AM
Don't put the used rifles/shotguns behind the counter. The nearby Pile O' Geese just built a new store, and now all their firearms are behind the counter. How can I browse the used guns if I have to wait on a clerk to walk over and hand me each one? I understand if something is worth a lot of money, you want to keep it safe; but even the Mosins?!?

My second beef is: Clean your guns. It bugs me when I pick up a mil-surp/sporter, pull the bolt, and then can't see down the barrel because of dirt/cobwebs/cosmoline. At least swab out the barrel so I can see the rifling; it might make the difference between a sale and a dust collector.

soloban
March 25, 2012, 11:36 AM
Another vote for staff. Polite, not condescending, well groomed, perhaps in a company polo shirt tucked into a pair of khaki tactical pants with a visible holstered side arm.

A decent website! Have a decent website and you will save yourself some phone calls on questions like where are you located? What are your hours?

Location! Not in some dumpy industrial part of town. Well lit, parking, clean bright interior. I shouldn't fell like I'm walking into an old saloon.

BSA1
March 25, 2012, 12:03 PM
Just to expand on sales staff hire a knowledgeable woman. There is a hugh market for self-defense for women including non-lethal and defensive tactics. Trust me on this (and as every married guy SHOULD know) women base their buying decisions differently than men. A female sales clerk would be great for tapping into this market.

Brockak47
March 25, 2012, 12:20 PM
^ female sales rep for sure. My gf loves going to gunshop because the guys give her discounts, but I think she could relate to a female better in terms of buying a gun, since when I try to help her decide on a gun , we are in 2 opposite realms. Secondly. Match internet prices. Have friendly staff that are genuinely friendly.
HAVE YOUR STOCK OUT SO PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT THEM AND HANDLE THEM IF THEY ASK, LOOKING AT HANDGUNS AND RIFLES BEHIND A CASE SUCKS
HAVE LOTS OF STOCK ON HAND! IF YOU CARRY WALTHER P22 FOR EXAMPLE, HAVE MANY COLOR OPTIONS SO THE CUSTOMER CAN SEE IN PERSON.

HAVE A GOOD DEAL OR 2 TO GET PEOPLE IN TO BUY MORE STUFF.
MIGHT BE GOOD TO HAVE JUST PLAIN COOL STUFF NO ONE ELSE CARRIES TO BRING THE WOW FACTOR

gunnutery
March 25, 2012, 12:33 PM
I forgot to add: DIVERSIFY, have something for everyone, such as don't just cover hunting or don't just cover tactical. Cover everything from long range bolt guns to hunting guns and home defense to tactical whatever.

bigfatdave
March 25, 2012, 03:22 PM
The nearby Pile O' Geese just built a new store,speaking of the big chain stores

Don't hand me a gun with a trigger lock on it, it is insulting and stupid.
Also don't try to give me a free trigger lock with a gun purchase and call it a "deal". A free box of ammo, some range time, a gun cleaning mat or cleaning device/solvent, a coupon for a holster, a freebie magazine, a generic pistol case ... these are all "deals" and are appreciated. Bundling a trigger lock onto a lever gun tells me that your staff are morons or that your corporate policy is written by morons (or both).

And that's just the pet peeves that thinking about Goose-Crap Hill bring up!

tryshoot
March 25, 2012, 03:28 PM
One thing I think was overlooked is price everything. No matter how bad I want it I am not going to ask you what it costs.

jk2008
March 25, 2012, 03:48 PM
No matter how bad I want it I am not going to ask you what it costs.

I don't understand, why wouldn't you ask? I've had several instances where a shop has had something new behind the counter that they had not yet priced; and by asking about it, I've been able to get a good deal.

jad0110
March 25, 2012, 03:57 PM
HAVE A GOOD DEAL OR 2 TO GET PEOPLE IN TO BUY MORE STUFF.

Interesting idea. Kinda like Amazon's deal of the day. Everyday, pick something in the store (could be a holster one day, a box of primers another and a shotgun the next) and mark it down below cost. You could always limit the quantity (first 5, 10 or only 1) for the day so you don't get your clock cleaned. But I know that would pull me in about every day to see what is going on.

The_Armed_Therapist
March 25, 2012, 04:54 PM
Condescending workers is a major problem with gun stores. They can be as aggressive as used car salesmen, but don't make you feel as good. LOL... I tend to be a pretty quiet person, which is universally perceived as ignorance, evidently. Help without pretense would be fantastic.

I enjoy variety in gun stores. Generally, this means more space for more guns and more stuff, but size isn't necessarily a must. I like to find things you don't see in most stores... like t-shirts, books, posters, bumper stickers, etc... I also mean variety in guns, too. So many that I've been to seem to "specialize" in a few brands. That's OK, but I like knowing the store has a little bit of everything. One of our local stores does a lot with Sig and CZ. Another does a lot with 1911s, while another specializes in tactical gear, etc... I like variety. This typically means a store with a lot of used guns, in my experience, which is fine with me.

The Sarge
March 25, 2012, 06:33 PM
Courtesy and professionalism. That's it. Most problems arise when one of those two basics are ignored by the shop staff/owner.

drsfmd
March 25, 2012, 07:28 PM
You can have all of the things you want except one...

You want service, selection, brands, full shelves, ammo in a hundred different calibers, cheap transfers, a great gunsmith, reloading supplies from multiple brands, courteous staff, knowledgeable staff (knowledgeable staff is expensive!), etc, etc...

You also want prices at or very near Buds, and you just can't have that and all of the other things... those cost money and tie up immense amounts of capital in a bricks and mortar store.

guitarguy314
March 25, 2012, 07:57 PM
Friendly staff is important. I don't buy from a**holes.

Variety...ditto. Guns...accessories...ammo. Have a bunch of everything.

Decent prices. I understand that you have to cover overhead...but $100 (or more) over msrp and I'm gone as fast as I can go.

Decent transfer fees.

Classes would be nice. ccw classes...reloading classes.

Deals would also be cool. Free box of ammo...holster coupon etc.

drsfmd
March 25, 2012, 08:05 PM
I understand that you have to cover overhead...but $100 (or more) over msrp and I'm gone as fast as I can go.
I've never seen a gun in any shop priced higher than MSRP (though there seem to be a lot of stories out there like this...). I'm talking about the guys who begrudge you for having a price that's $50 more than Buds, or don't want you to make $100 on an LWRC even after you show them the invoice... this isn't a hobby, it's a business, and business needs to make a profit or they will be out of business. Most larger shops will need to move $10,000 or more a day in merchandise just to pay the staff and keep the heat and lights on...


Deals would also be cool. Free box of ammo...holster coupon etc.

There's no "free". It might make you feel good to get those things, but they are included in the price of the gun.

Skribs
March 25, 2012, 08:07 PM
1. Professional, friendly staff. I've seen plenty of "friendly" workers that are chatting with the first customer in line and don't even acknowledge that there's anyone else in line. If there are two people in the store, chat away, but when there's a line be pure business.

2. On-site gunsmith. If I'm going to buy a gun and have work done on it right away, this is a big one.

3. Well inventoried website. Some stores nearby have a list of everything they have, its price, and whether it's on order or in stock. Others have a list of some of the things they carry and their price, but not specifically all models and it might not be on order. The ones that I don't like are ones that just have a list of brands with no cost. When I have to drive a good half hour just to visit a gun store (and a half hour or more between them), I'm going to shop around online first, especially with the price of gas.

4. Staff that will admit they don't know everything and look up the answer for you, instead of blowing smoke up your skirt when they don't know the right answer to your question.

5. Close proximity to a gun range would be nice.

Bio-Chem
March 25, 2012, 08:22 PM
I think courteous staff is the most important thing. Always, Always, Always remind the staff to NEVER assume about a customer. treat everyone with respect. When you see a bunch of clowns coming in and asking questions I understand it's human nature to assume everyone is a clown, but take the time to build repeat customers at every turn. your business will live or die with repeat business and word of mouth advertising. remember this.

drsfmd
March 25, 2012, 08:35 PM
Skribs-

Most manufacturers make vendors stick to a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price). Actual prices are often lower than MAP... which is why it can be hard to find them listed. Many shops also won't do pricing on the phone... phone shoppers are horrible time sinks, and rarely produce results. The customer who has taken the time to come by the shop gets priority over the guy on the phone.

Regarding "not knowing everything" I agree with you... but there are plenty of people who will criticize the staff for not knowing arcane trivia. You just can't win sometimes.

3KillerBs
March 25, 2012, 10:09 PM
speaking of the big chain stores

Don't hand me a gun with a trigger lock on it, ...

In NC that free trigger lock that comes with the gun is mandated by state law.

cyclopsshooter
March 25, 2012, 10:22 PM
You can have all of the things you want except one...

You want service, selection, brands, full shelves, ammo in a hundred different calibers, cheap transfers, a great gunsmith, reloading supplies from multiple brands, courteous staff, knowledgeable staff (knowledgeable staff is expensive!), etc, etc...

You also want prices at or very near Buds, and you just can't have that and all of the other things... those cost money and tie up immense amounts of capital in a bricks and mortar store.

Thankyou drsfmd! I thought the same thing while reading through this thread. We gotta have at least ONE... I agree with most posters. Customer service, knowledge modesty, organization, and cleanliness top the bill... and location, location, location!
But some folk just don't understand business.. A few posters are asking for it all and it is just not possible. I assume these are the same guys that buy a Rock Island 1911 on Gunbroker for $389, pay another $50 for FFL and shipping, and then tell their friends they bought the gun for $389

Regarding "not knowing everything" I agree with you... but there are plenty of people who will criticize the staff for not knowing arcane trivia. You just can't win sometimes. This is the icing on the cake, every store has a few poo-holes that stumble on interesting gun trivia, then go to a store just to stump the staff and feel good about themselves... Often this is tied in with the guys that say they are a sniper. Most customers relay interesting info through conversation.

the_hustleman
March 25, 2012, 10:31 PM
Well why not sell online?

Do exactly what buds does. Make that money

*swyped from the evo so excuse any typos*

cyclopsshooter
March 25, 2012, 10:35 PM
Well why not sell online?

Some of us like getting to know customers and working with them one on one. I'd like to see Bud's offer an indoor range and training courses. Maybe they will someday have demo guns you can test fire for fit too :)

RhinoDefense
March 25, 2012, 10:37 PM
If someone is opening up a business, the market research should be done already. They should already know what is expected of a business in their industry. What you're getting is basic retail business answers that should already be obvious to a serious businessman.

Jim NE
March 25, 2012, 10:48 PM
Guns and their enthusiasts are what you could call a "sub-culture". It was the same when I was involved in the musical instrument industry; a sub-culture.

When a specialty store reflects the sub-culture of it's clientele, it can be both positive and negative. The positive is that a specialty store has the expertise that customers want. The negative is that they think their professionalism need extend only as far as their expertise.

The people at Wal-Mart's gun department generally have more "people skills" than most of the locally owned gun stores I go to (and Wal-Mart's people skills aren't all that great.) I don't hang out at gun stores and make a nuisance of myself. I'm there only to buy a specific item or peruse their inventory.

Yet gun store owners are generally terse, smug, owly and often act very bored with their jobs. They often act like customers are merely one more job duty they have to fulfill.

There's only one "gun store" I like going to in my home town. The owner's a good guy, but not very "slick". He showed his true measure when he rec'd a gun I'd ordered online, and, though he made no profit on the sale, he worked on it for 45 minutes when something wasn't right with it. And he didn't charge me. I paid him anyway, and ended up buying four guns from him.

To all the gun shop owners out there: IT PAYS TO TREAT PEOPLE NICE!!!!! It ain't easy to do sometimes, but that's what being in business is all about.

Agsalaska
March 25, 2012, 10:50 PM
I know I am getting to this thread late, but Customer Service is number one. Just because it is a gun shop does not make it any different than any other place. I have reached the point that I rarely go into gun shops anymore because of the attitudes of the staff and never go to gun shows. Hell you can see the attitude on this board sometimes too. Get professional sales people and teach them guns, not the other way around. That is the best way to do it. They will never think they are superior to their customers which you almost always find today.

guitarguy314
March 25, 2012, 10:56 PM
@drsfmd - I understand that a brick and mortar store needs to make money to keep going, but some stores jack up prices like it's going out of style. I don't mind paying a little more for a "right there right now" gun. I just don't want to get shafted by predatory sellers.

Sorry. ha ha. I went to la la land for a minute. That's what I meant...buy a gun get xxxx with it. Free ammo does sound fishy.

DammitBoy
March 25, 2012, 11:00 PM
Most of what I would add has been covered. But...

Give me wide enough aisles to walk in so I can see your inventory without drowning in camo coveralls on overstocked racks and overstocked shelves.

Too much does not sell more.

bigfatdave
March 26, 2012, 07:14 AM
In NC that free trigger lock that comes with the gun is mandated by state law.

3KillerBs, as far as "handing me a gun" I was talking about pulling a gun out of the display case that I have asked to inspect and leaving the stupid trigger lock on. Even if I don't want to dry-fire the gun (I generally won't without asking) I can't test feel in the hand with a big, stupid, yellow, heavy, bulky piece of crap bolted to the same place the designer of the gun expected my hand to interface with.

And take a look at your nearest lever gun, or dig up some pictures of the action opening/closing on one if you don't have one handy. Now tell me exactly how a trigger lock is useful on a design where the trigger guard is movable.

Trigger locks are the WORST method of securing a gun devised by legislators and fools (but I repeat myself) ... They require putting something in the TG of a gun you do not want to fire, they make the gun bulkier without actually securing it in place, they do not prevent putting the gun in battery, and they can be torn off with bare hands (cheap ones) or a pipe wrench (less cheap ones).
Your state lawmakers may mandate it, but you don't have to ever let it touch your gun. Removing a slide/bolt or running a cable lock through the action is far more effective, in the specific case where a trigger lock is absolutely non-functional that got this started (lever gun) you need to lock the lever closed on an empty chamber, I use a cable lock and a spacer that doubles as a pad, to make sure the lever is shut tight and that the cable won't damage the gun.

BSA1
March 26, 2012, 08:44 AM
Another important thought. Hire sales staff that ACTUALLY have experience with the type of guns you are selling. Case in point if you are selling blackpowder firearms and accessories have a sales clerk that has shot frontstuffers and revolvers and understand what makes them unique. When I walk in and ask for bore butter someone in the store need to understand I am not wanting to butter my toast in the morning. Better yet is if the clerk has enough BP savy to talk to me about how well bore butter works but why based on his experience something else worksd better I'll probably buy more than I planned.

A case in point. A LGS (the same one that wanted $100.00 to do a transfer) had a clerk that was a Cowboy Action Shooter. He not only looked and dressed the part, long hair, cowboy duds and hat but he really understood shooting black powder guns and guns used in CAS. He brought a lot of business into the store from CAS shooters and had a reputation as the "go to" guy for CAS needs and information. Well the owner and clerk got into a argument over the length of his hair and the clerk either quit or got fired. When the clerk walked out of the front door so did all of the CAS customers.

If you hire a bunch of young shooters that only shoot black rifles you can kiss older, experienced shooters like me goodbye. Just because I am shooting 1800 era guns doesn't mean I have not burned my share of powder shooting IPSC, etc. I rarely go into the two LGS because that is exactly the type of staff they have. They are young, self righteous who think they know it all. but don't know the difference between 44-40 and 44 WCF.

303tom
March 26, 2012, 08:51 AM
Guns, & gun related stuff at great prices..............

drsfmd
March 26, 2012, 09:09 AM
If you hire a bunch of young shooters

Do you know why the salespeople in the gun business are generally very young? Because the jobs don't pay well. At most shops the counter guys are lucky to make $10 an hour. Why don't the jobs pay well? Because people are looking to get everything at fire sales prices and don't want to let the dealer make a living. To make a living, he has to cut corners in other areas, and staffing costs are one of the largest expenses.

BSA1
March 26, 2012, 09:50 AM
That may be true for your area but where I live we have close to 20% actual unemployment which means there a lot of middle age laid off workers that are willing to work even on a part-time basis.

drsfmd
March 26, 2012, 09:57 AM
That may be true for your area but where I live we have close to 20% actual unemployment which means there a lot of middle age laid off workers that are willing to work even on a part-time basis.

Trust me, we're in tough shape around here too, but most folks can stay home and make more on unemployment than retail will pay them to work. That's a different discussion of course...

CountryUgly
March 26, 2012, 10:37 AM
One more pet peeve I forgot to mention earlier.....Please for the love of all that is right and good no one and I mean no one behind the counter should be wearing a shoulder holster with the biggest gun they could find to shove in it, or a small of the back holster filled with a baby Glock. You are not Dirty Harry and you are not super secret deep cover Johnny Law so please don't act like it. Keep the gun of the day on your strong side hip or maybe cross draw if you spend alot of time sitting down behind a desk/counter. Sorry had to get that off my chest. No appendix carry either unles you want the guys walking out the door laughing and calling you stumpy.

Sniper66
March 26, 2012, 12:33 PM
You can offer discounted products or great service. It is extremely tough to provide both. If there is a discount place near you (Cabela's or Bass Pro) you will have difficulty competing with them on the amount of product you can offer on any given day. I have access to both and I do buy some stuff from them. But, I prefer to deal with a smaller shop, that doesn't have to call out my number when it's my turn. Service will be what gets them in your door and keeps them. I am willing to pay a bit higher price for products if the service is great. And, keep your store friendly yet clean, well organized and refreshed with new products and new displays. GOOD LUCK!!!

rodinal220
March 26, 2012, 01:07 PM
Staff that are friendly and competent/knowledgeable.I don't need the typical conceited rude attitude that is all too common in the LGS world.If you treat me with respect and true professionalism I will give you my business and spread the word.Its a shame that gun owners are not on the same page.
If your thinking about opening a range in the future one tip for you.If my brass(my personal property) hits the ground its still mine,not yours.

jdex
March 27, 2012, 09:06 PM
Friendly dog, or dogs. My wife has no problem mentioning that we should stop at a local gun store if we are close while out running errands. However she will only go to the ones with animals, gives her something to do while they run the check on me.

A.Rifleman
March 27, 2012, 09:13 PM
jdex,

I will not go into any shop for anything that has loose dogs.

One shop out of town has a dog that runs over, pokes its dirty nose at you and all. I did find a nice rifle there years ago however I won't go in there again.

Inebriated
March 27, 2012, 09:20 PM
Nice salesmen. No commandos, no Bubbas, just normal people with good knowledge.
Large inventory of ammo and holsters.
Prices UNDER MSRP. If prices are higher than online, I still support local, until they approach MSRP or higher.
A range attached.

jk2008
March 27, 2012, 09:22 PM
My LGS has anywhere between 0 and 4 black labs underfoot at any given time. The dogs are very well-mannered, so I've never minded and my kids enjoy petting them, which allows me to hang around longer shooting the breeze with the owner.

22-rimfire
March 27, 2012, 09:46 PM
Free guns and ammo. :)

DeMilled
March 27, 2012, 09:50 PM
If I could ask for one thing, that would make a gun store way more than just somewhere to spend money, I would ask for a social corner.

Ever go to one of those book stores that has a coffee bar over on one side of the store? Something along those lines.

It would not need to be very large, and the coffee need only be Folgers with a little cream and sugar available. I'm sure most people actually would put $.50 in the jar and you would at least break even on the coffee.

Cookies! Store bought would be alright but if you could bring in home made I would pay a buck a cookie to go with my coffee.

Chairs wouldn't need to be very nice, skip the couch though.

Maybe a coffee table with last months gun magazines laying around for people to thumb through. (Have this months gun mags. for sale in a proper rack.)


See, I can go pretty much anywhere to buy a new gun. If I really want to save money I'll buy used on line and have it shipped in. What you can't get from the internet is somewhere to talk to other gun lovers(in person), flip through magazines on hunting etc., have a cup of coffee, and then grab that box of ammo you need for the upcoming range trip.

Ever see how willing guys are to linger in a Fun Store even when it's obvious they are finished with their business? It's 'cause we just like being in there. Give us a spot to sit, out of the way and not bothering anyone, and we will drop in there pretty much any chance we get. We will, of course, buy a little something while we are there, even if it's just a brick of .22shells or a pack of paper targets; even though we don't really need them.

jdex
March 27, 2012, 10:11 PM
A.Rifleman, understandable, a lazy dog lying by the door can help or hurt business I guess. Personally I love it, adds to the atmosphere for me.

oneounceload
March 27, 2012, 10:28 PM
Funny how a lot of folks want gun stores to supply a retail item for less than MSRP, but have no issue paying that at the grocery store, tire shop, department store or local eatery.

A gun shop is a retail store and needs to cover costs. Anyone who has ever had a store understands the "ancillary" costs that need to be covered and utilities, taxes, and more taxes comprise a huge cost.

As to the post about competing with the big discount houses like Cabela' and Bass Pro, around here those folks only sell at MSRP +10-25%.
If someone is to cut prices, then you will see the corresponding cuts I other areas to make up for it - lower inventory, less services, fewer products. I'll take the service aspects and a regular fair price from a local guy. If I know what I want, then he gets a shot to compete with the internet, and in many cases, he beats Bud's and similar sources

drsfmd
March 27, 2012, 10:53 PM
Demilled-- the last thing a retail shop wants is people who sit around all day, drink coffee, read magazines and don't buy anything! If you want that, join a gun club... most have a bunch of old guys who sit around and chew the fat in the clubhouse all day.

ChCx2744
March 28, 2012, 03:44 AM
What do I want in a gun store? Online prices.

csa77
March 28, 2012, 06:19 AM
military surplus and antiques. like lee metfords lee enfields arisakas commision rifles webley revolvers ect




that and real gun smiths, not just parts installers.

dprice3844444
March 28, 2012, 06:30 AM
What You Want In A Gun Store

me after i won the lotto

BSA1
March 28, 2012, 09:02 AM
Demilled-- the last thing a retail shop wants is people who sit around all day, drink coffee, read magazines and don't buy anything! If you want that, join a gun club... most have a bunch of old guys who sit around and chew the fat in the clubhouse all day.

Ditto!

As a store owner I am paying for every square each of the store. The more space I take away from merchandise the more I cut into my profit.

How would you feel if a bunch of guys came into your living room every day, watched TV, read your books, pawed over your possessions and drank up your coffee without giving you a penny? Oh and they would hang around any visitors you have and listen in on your private conversations.

Believe me I know from first hand experience how this type of good ole boy customers hurts business.

A lot of book stores have a coffee area where customers can read, visit and drink coffee.

Kristensdaddy
March 28, 2012, 09:04 AM
Here's what they need - money, lots of money. I happen to be the banker for one of my local gun shops. At my previous bank I was the banker for two large gun shops in the area. (we're lucky, we have three really good shops in my town). Anyway, the current shop has taken years to work up to an inventory value of just short of one million dollars. While his inventory suits my personal shooting needs other may feel that it falls short. This is not the level of a Cabela's or Bass Pro, just a good selection of guns, reloading gear and ammo. His inventory model is this - stock only products which sell year 'round. No camo clothes, deer piss-in-a-bottle, hunting gadgets, etc. It has worked well for him.

All that said, reread what I wrote - it is One Million Dollars in inventory.

Two dudes starting a gun shop with Ruger 10/22's, Mossberg 500's and three AR's won't be in business long.

drsfmd
March 28, 2012, 09:12 AM
One million is on the small side for a decent inventory... especially if you are getting into high end shotguns as a part of your business. Most decent gun shops probably have at least double that in inventory.

Kristensdaddy
March 28, 2012, 09:24 AM
"One million is on the small side for a decent inventory... especially if you are getting into high end shotguns as a part of your business. Most decent gun shops probably have at least double that in inventory."

That was my point - one million dollars is a pretty small inventory but the average "gun-guy" wanting to open a gun store doesn't have anywhere near a million bucks.

NavyLCDR
March 28, 2012, 11:08 AM
Only this:

http://parrotheadjeff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Bailey-Colorado-Guns-Firearms-Liquor-Alcohol-Tobacco-Cigarettes-ATF-Store.jpg

cyclopsshooter
March 28, 2012, 11:14 AM
Not sure what I'd rather do, go in the store or make a pass on the lady in the hat.

Voltaire
March 28, 2012, 02:10 PM
Well obviously not everyone can start out with a million dollars for inventory, so what would you guys say would be a good amount to start with? I would say that I would rather shop in a store that didn't have the largest inventory but had nice people working to help you find what you needed rather than one that had everything but didn't care about helping you find what you really needed.

jk2008
March 28, 2012, 07:55 PM
NavyLCDR, any idea of the location of the store in the picture? Both vehicles have Colorado plates. so I thought I might pay the joint a visit.

3KillerBs
March 28, 2012, 09:12 PM
jdex,

I will not go into any shop for anything that has loose dogs.

One shop out of town has a dog that runs over, pokes its dirty nose at you and all. I did find a nice rifle there years ago however I won't go in there again.

I can't say that I ABSOLUTELY wouldn't shop in a place with a loose dog, but I certainly do not find being slobbered on and begged at a plus for my shopping experience.

22-rimfire
March 28, 2012, 10:54 PM
What do I really want in a gunshop besides free guns... good customer service, maybe a farly good looking girl or two who likes firearms, and fair prices. I didn't say "cheap" prices. I expect people that own stores to make a profit and a living and I am willing to pay more than typical "online" prices (just don't get carried away on this).

I also think the gunshop clingons drive away business.

Things I want to see... a clean public restroom, a fair inventory of guns, ammo, and accessories offered at competitive prices, being able to get a cup of Joe might be nice, but not necessary, and access to a gunsmith that is reasonably good.

Big_John1961
March 29, 2012, 11:30 PM
Knowledgable, respectful staff
Good stock of firearms/ammo
Appreciation for the business I give them - not a foregone conclusion, unfortuneately

JEB
March 29, 2012, 11:53 PM
a clean public restroom, a fair inventory of guns, ammo, and accessories offered at competitive prices, being able to get a cup of Joe might be nice, but not necessary, and access to a gunsmith that is reasonably good.

big +1 on the clean bathroom. for some reason i have always found myself judging a place by the quality of the bathroom. having a good gunsmith could very well set you apart from other shops in the area. free coffee? sounds like a dang fine place to hang out and just talk guns. im not sure i would ever want to leave...:D

ErikO
March 30, 2012, 12:59 PM
Is 'Store Credit' a bad answer? lol

drsfmd
March 30, 2012, 01:41 PM
free coffee? sounds like a dang fine place to hang out and just talk guns. im not sure i would ever want to leave...:D

You're proving my point from earlier in this thread. Retailers want you to come in, spend your money, and clear out. They don't want you there for endless hours chatting with your friends. A coffee machine is the biggest incentive for the hangers on to sit around.

Years ago, we had competition... heck, I'll even say that there shop may have been better than ours. Every morning, the owner bought donuts, and the boys would go piling into the place for donuts and free coffee. He had stools at the counter, and overstuffed chairs in the back. People would be lined up at the door when he opened, and there was always a crowd in there, but there didn't seem to be much product moving...

We have no coffee, no stools, no overstuffed chairs.

We're still around, and he's long gone.

DeMilled
March 30, 2012, 03:33 PM
Demilled-- the last thing a retail shop wants is people who sit around all day, drink coffee, read magazines and don't buy anything! If you want that, join a gun club... most have a bunch of old guys who sit around and chew the fat in the clubhouse all day.
I see your point.


Ya know, I never thought about it from the shop owners view point before.

Alright. I thought about it and I still would like coffee and cookies with my guns.



It's a shame there is no club house in my town.

DeMilled
March 30, 2012, 03:45 PM
Demilled-- the last thing a retail shop wants is people who sit around all day, drink coffee, read magazines and don't buy anything! If you want that, join a gun club... most have a bunch of old guys who sit around and chew the fat in the clubhouse all day.

Ditto!

As a store owner I am paying for every square each of the store. The more space I take away from merchandise the more I cut into my profit.

How would you feel if a bunch of guys came into your living room every day, watched TV, read your books, pawed over your possessions and drank up your coffee without giving you a penny? Oh and they would hang around any visitors you have and listen in on your private conversations.

Believe me I know from first hand experience how this type of good ole boy customers hurts business.

A lot of book stores have a coffee area where customers can read, visit and drink coffee.


The living room comparison is a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

I actually got the idea from book store coffee shop set-ups.
I was sitting there drinking coffee and reading a gun magazine when I had the idea "Wouldn't it be great if I could do this in a gun store.".

Redlg155
March 30, 2012, 03:49 PM
Cleanliness and good prices are a must.

I have a tackle/bait shop that I sometimes use when I don't have any choice. Piles of merchandise on tables. You have to weave around everything. Crickett in every corner, to include the restroom. The topping? A huge lizard that is a cross between a Kimodo Dragon and a Skink that lives under the chair the old man sits on.

My wife refuses to go into the store, and therefore by default, my time is limited in the store.

As for customers spending too much time just hanging around, a midget with a rubber baton would work. A couple of good wacks on the shins should keep the grinding wheel moving.

tech30528
March 30, 2012, 04:02 PM
A drivethru window.

"Yeah, I'd like a brick of Stingers, 900 rounds of M855, aaaaand let me get a couple boxes of double ought 12 gauge."

"Would you like ear plugs or eye protection with that?"

Elkins45
March 30, 2012, 04:06 PM
I certainly do not find being slobbered on and begged at a plus for my shopping experience.

I guess you don't shop at Wal-Mart much then? :D

I'm happiest with good prices and a large inventory, but a dealer that makes it possible to trade without losing your shirt is a real find IMO. There was a gun store in the town where I work that had prices that were noticeably higher than his competitors, but he would value your trade equally as high or even higher than his inventory, so trading with him usually cost less than the other shops in spite of the lower prices on the tags. Unfortunately they closed their doors when the owner passed away. There was a similar shop in the town where I went to college, but it closed a few years ago because the owner suffered from some sort of disabling illness.

I really miss those shops because a lot of the shops I'm around these days think they are used car lots in terms of how they value trade in guns, even ones they know won't stay in inventory long. Give me a shop with decent inventory and a dealer who will value trades fairly and I'll be a customer for life.

DavidMS
March 30, 2012, 09:24 PM
I have a few thoughts on the gun stores I have done business with.


Whoever talked about a clean bathroom, I agree. My favorite FLGS for transfers has a filthy bathroom. That is the only problem with the store.
If you will have dogs in the store, get low allergy dogs as some customers may be allergic and you don't want to scare them off.
No Smoking. The best store for gunsmithing in my area will get caught sooner or latter for violating state law. I don't want to walk out of a store smelling like cigar smoke.
Don't have a coffee table, locate above a cafe or as a secondary business next door.
Have more capital than you think you will need.
I agree on having cheap ammo for sale. Also stock more unusual cartridges like non-corrosive 7.62x54r (even if its just a box or two)
Leave politics out. You don't know who will walk though the door and I know quite a few non-traditional gun owners. On the same note, don't say dumb things about gun bans that I know is not true.
Have an email list and send out unadvertised specials to customers.
Get involved in the community. There is a nearby pet store that has a tradition of local politicians visiting it and getting a picture with the parrot. Try to get to the same point.
Don't try to spread FUD (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt)
Do have a knowledgeable, pleasant staff. I am willing to pay slightly more for it.


Good luck!

mbbellk2
March 31, 2012, 12:12 AM
Don't forget the ladies. We don't want to be talked down to or be "helped" to make a decision. Stock the holsters designed for female carry, offer a "ladies night" with discount, and treat us with respect. This will earn you not just our business, but our family and friends' business too. Word of mouth can be the greatest and cheapest marketing tool you can have.

Lex Luthier
March 31, 2012, 07:43 AM
Make sure your second in command has enough authority to be effective. Calling you every time somebody sneezes will only make him feel like a peon and your customers will feel like they're in a big box store.

beatledog7
March 31, 2012, 07:57 AM
Great discussion. I read through the whole thread and didn't see "open late evenings for retail business" mentioned (might have missed it).

It will cost more to stay open late (say 9pm), but that's the only time a lot of people have available. Weekends are great, but often too crowded.

hemiram
April 2, 2012, 01:07 AM
It would be nice to have a decent restroom, in case you have to go. I was in one years ago that was scarier than a lot of porta johns I've been in. And it smelled as bad as some of them too. A dog is a positive, in my opinion. I used to go to a hardware store that had 2 huge and two medium sized dogs that made going there a lot more fun than going to Lowe's. They followed people around and never bothered me at all. The things that bug me most about gun shops are insanely high prices, one local place is so high that you can almost buy 2 new guns on Gunbroker for what the charge for one, and the endless crazy political stuff that comes up. From birth certificate nonsense to religious loonery, keep it out of the public, please. It concerns me that some of these people are running loose without supervision, some with a LOT of guns.

searcher451
April 2, 2012, 08:36 PM
I always appreciate a bit of knowledge on the topic at hand from a gun store clerk or owner and, even better yet, an admission from the same clerk or owner that he/she doesn't know anything about the topic at hand if that's the case. I also don't appreciate folks who try to steer you to one specific gun or one specific manufacturer, especially when you come in and ask for something else. The first time I hear a "Why would you want to buy one of those when you can buy one of these?" is the last time I visit that shop ... and it's happened more than once.

Ragnar Danneskjold
April 2, 2012, 08:52 PM
If you do end up opening a gun store, how about a suggestion box?

Or better yet, a well maintained and well built website with a suggestion form.

That way if customers in your particular area have ideas they like, or even complaints about your store or staff, they have a way to voice their opinion other than just not coming any more.

NavyLCDR
April 2, 2012, 09:33 PM
Don't forget the ladies. We don't want to be talked down to or be "helped" to make a decision. Stock the holsters designed for female carry, offer a "ladies night" with discount, and treat us with respect. This will earn you not just our business, but our family and friends' business too. Word of mouth can be the greatest and cheapest marketing tool you can have.

My ex-wife had those problems. She went into a gun store once and asked a sales guy for a box of ammo for a S&W .460. He asked, "What caliber is that?" She rolled her eyes and said ".460 Smith and Wesson!" He got a box, pulled one out and you should have seen his eyes get big as saucers.

whalerman
April 2, 2012, 09:41 PM
I don't much care about prices, as long as they are not completely unreasonable. What I look for is a friendly hello when I come in, and a thanks for coming when I leave. Face it, we're aren't going to buy a gun every time we come in. Make us feel like you want us to come back anyway.

thorazine
April 3, 2012, 07:01 PM
What You Want In A Gun Store

Hot college girls that know a lot about firearms and firearm accessories working behind the counters. :D


Someone that can honestly give me a straight answer -- "Does this gun and holster match my outfit?"

Norrick
April 4, 2012, 03:50 AM
I would say have them keep one of every gun they sell under the glass as a demo model only (not for consignment/used firearms obviously).

Whenever I say "do you have such and such" and they say "i can order it for you" i have absolutely no interest in doing so without handling one first. Keep one spare in the glass so the customer can at least get a feel for it before ordering one for them.

Also it helps to have a knowledgeable female on the staff for the women customers who might be intimidated, or just to flirt with ;)

larryh1108
April 4, 2012, 10:07 PM
It was briefly mentioned earlier but to be successful you have to have a niche. "You can't be all things to all people" is a good model for a business. Also, "You can't please all the people all the time" is another timeless piece of advice. As you read, if you want to have 1 of everything on hand and one more of each in back (because no one wants to buy the display model and no one wants to wait while you order it) can cause you to tie up millions in inventory. If you don't have a $2million dollar line of credit then you need to "specialize" in a few areas and whatever you decide, you do it well with well informed employees.

Some suggested reloading. Stocking reloading supplies is cheaper than stocking every new production handgun and rifle. Others have suggested not being a seasonal shop but to stick to a few basics and run with it. Very sound advice. Of course you must sell ammo. If you sell reloading supplies it is a natural to stock ready-to-go ammo too. It would be wise to hook up with a very good ammo producer who could make ammo in white generic boxes where you can sell it really cheap as range ammo and offer the variety of the name brands and specialty SD ammo where you make your money.

If you want a lot of foot traffic, some have suggested Black Friday type deals. If you have the pulse of your business and local needs, you can cater these "blow out" specials around items that many want, not items that collect dust. Regulars will stop in every Friday to see what you're "giving away".

If I was to open a gun shop I'd specialize in used guns. Like some said, encourage trade ins. Have signs posted and ads printed that advertise "Top Dollar Paid for your unwanted firearms". Have cases and cases of used guns and encourage consignments from your locals as well. If they are priced reasonably by the seller, you can get 15% of the sale. 15% of profit for something you didn't have to put out money up front for is a nice deal. Also, when someone buys a consignment gun they also may want other things you have for sale. Buying is like a frenzy. You lay down cash for a gun and all of a sudden you have the urge to buy (............) for it. Cleaning supplies, reloading supplies, ammo, etc. A 15% profit can turn in to a $200 sale of accessories and ammo. All for something you didn't pay for up front. If you're known as a consignment/used gun specialist then you get the regulars stopping in daily to see what new items you have for sale. All without advertising.

The same theory works for internet transfer fees. Charge $25, not $50 or $75. Encourage your customers to see you to transfer their internet purchase. That's $25 for some paperwork and they'll also pick up the extra goodies. All you want to do is drive people into your shop and if you are clean, organized and have knowlegable and friendly people behind the counters you have a recipe for success. Trying to carry every gun from every maker and you have a recipe for failure unless you have deep pockets. I speak from experience. These grey hairs have seen a lot of retail plans succeed and fail. Whatever you decide to "be" just do it well, not half ass. If you can't afford to have friendly and informed staff then you need to keep yourself and your partners behind the counter 24/7 until you are big enough to hire qualified people. One bad employee can kill a business just like one good one can help more than you believe.

Hotshot10
April 4, 2012, 10:54 PM
- Big selection
- Helpful staff
- Reasonable prices

To me, location and price are kind of important, but I'd pay slightly more or drive slightly farther for a shop that meets the other criteria (luckily, there are two in my area that meet my expectations).

justice06rr
April 4, 2012, 10:58 PM
Whats most important for me is good customer service by helpful and knowledgable staff. A good size range is a plus, if well lit and ventilated. Decent selection of firearms and accessories. They don't have to carry everything but it would be great if they help you order it if they don't.

Red October
April 5, 2012, 12:08 PM
I would have to say that the most important thing to me is recognition. I may not make a purchase every time I walk in, but I have made more than a few. Having the staff recognize the fact that I am a recurring customer, and even knowing my name when I walk in, is what I want.
If they recognize the fact that you regularly spend money there, they tend to be more flexible on pricing. Selection is nice, but the larger stores with big inventories tend to have higher markup, since they have more overhead (based on my observations, YMMV).

Capybara
April 5, 2012, 07:54 PM
I have bought quite a few guns this year and have spent some time in gun stores. I have to say that from a gun dealers POV, it seems like almost everyone who walks in these days wants something that I don't have in stock.

I agree about focusing on a specific area. I ordered a CZ527 Varmint from a local shop, when it came in, it was like a novelty item because all they sell are EBRs and Glocks. I asked them about shotguns and they told me, "nobody around here shoots shotguns", which, I suppose is true, the nearest trap or skeet places are 50-80 miles from here.

Conversely, I ordered my Uzi on-line from a dealer in NorCal and it was the first Uzi my other dealer who did the transfer for me had ever seen in person. It's gotta be frustrating to be a dealer, have cases of Glocks, S&Ws and Berettas sitting there and have every other person walking through door only wanting a "SIG P224 to the eighth power with black rhino grips and a diamond encrusted hammer, they only made eight of them and it is SSE".

I don't know if I am unusual but I like guns that not everybody else does so I must frustrate the heck out of dealers because I never want a DPMS AR or a Glock, I am asking, "When are the Tavors going to be available?" or "Can you get me a CZ75 SP01?"

red-demon652
April 7, 2012, 02:26 PM
Well i tell ya. I drive a semi for a living sll over the us. Frequintly i stop at cabelas,they pretty well al have truck parking. If they'd have truck parking would be 1 UP

fuzzyjon79
April 7, 2012, 02:42 PM
Salesman and Range Officers (if there's a range) who aren't rude and condescending to people.
I agree totally! Going to a gun shop should be enjoyable, but I've been to a few with arrogant/unfriendly staff....I even overheard one employee talking about how he "dealt some street justice." Although this "justice" may have been warranted, it's not something I would broadcast within earshot of customers.

oneounceload
April 7, 2012, 04:41 PM
I would say have them keep one of every gun they sell under the glass as a demo model only (not for consignment/used firearms obviously).

Whenever I say "do you have such and such" and they say "i can order it for you" i have absolutely no interest in doing so without handling one first. Keep one spare in the glass so the customer can at least get a feel for it before ordering one for them.

That's quite an investment in inventory that costs a LOT - most smaller stores can't afford to have upwards of $50,000 sitting there not getting turned over and sold

Bubbles
April 7, 2012, 06:22 PM
That's quite an investment in inventory that costs a LOT - most smaller stores can't afford to have upwards of $50,000 sitting there not getting turned over and sold
You need another zero on that number, two if you also deal in NFA toys.

drsfmd
April 7, 2012, 11:07 PM
The longer I read this thread, the more I become convinced that virtually no one here owns their own business nor has any basic understanding of how an actual retail bunsiness worls.

cyclopsshooter
April 11, 2012, 07:54 PM
The longer I read this thread, the more I become convinced that virtually no one here owns their own business nor has any basic understanding of how an actual retail bunsiness worls.

You sir, just won a free range pass good for five visits.

the_hustleman
April 11, 2012, 09:34 PM
The longer I read this thread, the more I become convinced that virtually no one here owns their own business nor has any basic understanding of how an actual retail bunsiness worls.

So tell us what we're missing

*swyped from the evo so excuse any typos*

valnar
April 11, 2012, 11:35 PM
All the usual suspects are important, like competent and friendly staff. You can't assume everyone is a noobie, nor can you expect everyone is an expert when you hand them a gun to look at. Some brief explanation never hurt anyone.

It's a sign of the times, but most of my LGS are very very busy. Not enough staff to meet the requests of all the customers. For that reason, I never feel like I should take too much time from any one of them. I would love LOVE to see a bunch of guns, but I always feel like I'm bothering them to ask. For that reason, I usually don't and just research online instead. But honestly, it would be nice to take a look at 5 or 10 guns to see which one fit me best, which one lines up sights for me best, figure out whether I prefer a Winchester or Remington bolt, etc.

I'm not sure how a gun store owner can fix this, but nevertheless, that is my complaint. The handguns are under glass and the long arms are out of reach. It makes the act of shopping darn near impossible.

cyclopsshooter
April 11, 2012, 11:58 PM
So tell us what we're missing

That you can't have it all-

x_wrench
April 12, 2012, 07:55 AM
a truly knowledgeable staff, men and women who know what the measurements of a gun stock are, and who can measure a person so the gun actually fits them. a decent selection of firearms, ammunition, cleaning, and reloading supplies. same goes for hunting calls, decoys, scents, optics, etc. clothing to me is optional for a gun shop.

the_hustleman
April 12, 2012, 08:48 AM
That you can't have it all-

So you essentially can't have good service and good prices?

Why not?

*swyped from the evo so excuse any typos*

3KillerBs
April 13, 2012, 07:27 PM
So you essentially can't have good service and good prices?

Why not?

*swyped from the evo so excuse any typos*

As the saying goes,

"Price, quality, or service. Pick two."

Every element has a price. Service costs money. Quality costs money.

You can have top quality and extraordinary service but you will have to pay for it. Top-notch, knowledgeable service people don't work for free. The more knowledgeable and the more customer-oriented the further from free they work because those skills are in demand.

You get what you pay for.

Chris-bob
April 14, 2012, 01:06 AM
I just want to walk in, spend an hour or 3 handling any firearms I want, and then leave without being looked down upon. I usually do that 2-4 times before I buy anything, and often chat with the other browsers. When I am ready to buy, I want to be treated like they can't live without my business(No, that doesn't mean they bend over backwards or take a loss to me, just that they treat me cordially).

cyclopsshooter
April 14, 2012, 01:27 AM
I just want to walk in, spend an hour or 3 handling any firearms I want, and then leave without being looked down upon. I usually do that 2-4 times before I buy anything, and often chat with the other browsers. When I am ready to buy, I want to be treated like they can't live without my business(No, that doesn't mean they bend over backwards or take a loss to me, just that they treat me cordially).

I know your type- A relatively small percentage of the customer base. I do go after your business once I figure you out... Most of you guys are a complete enigma and the time suck you require can keep me away from other paying customers who then log on here and complain how they were ignored by their LGS...

But once I know your buying habits I know when I can leave you to help someone else for a bit... customers like you go on to become great customers, the ones i really personally get to know, but there is SO MUCH room for error in the beginning because of unknowing silence.. If you can work it in casually, tell the shop guys how you roll, chances are they will respect that and remember you.

Happy gun buying :)

ErikO
April 15, 2012, 01:33 AM
I thought it was 'Good, fast, right - pick two' :D

A.Rifleman
June 29, 2012, 09:43 AM
I like all kinds of 'gun' stores and may stop in a small one today on my way however the fabulous Cabelas stores trump anything I have ever seen before for the outdoorsman.

From that impressive diorama of the animals to when you walk in to the Gun Library with it's impressive collection. They also have the largest selection of new guns right there in stock.

We stopped in the our first Cableas years ago on a Western trip and then down from CT to the one in Hamburg, PA when it opened. Now a Cabelas opened in E.Hartford, CT which is very close to us. My wife also likes the Cabelas stores.

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3066/3080771334_c49e38834d.jpg

exiledtoIA
June 29, 2012, 01:10 PM
Treat the ladies as humans. We have one LGS that lost my business as well as my ladies. She went in for a specific purchase - S&W MP9.
They tried to sell her a pink taurus. She hates pink, and does not like being treated like a little blonde bimbo.

I got a call from the shop a month or so later saying they noticed I hadn't been in for a while. I told them I wouldn't be in again and why.

Their response: I should have come in with her.
My lady should not have to have me with her to be treated as a valued customer.

B!ngo
July 1, 2012, 12:22 AM
Salesman and Range Officers (if there's a range) who aren't rude and condescending to people.
^^^^^
This.
And it's likely the hardest think for an owner to do.
B

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