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End of an era

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by natman, Dec 29, 2011.

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  1. natman

    natman Member

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    Western Sport Shop in San Rafael, CA is closing after 65 years.

    Western was an old fashioned hunting and fishing store that specialized in service. They really would take a beginner out into the parking lot and teach them how to flycast. Bashing gun store clerks is practically a sport on gun forums, but the staff at Western had decades of experience and really knew what they were talking about. Yes, their prices were high, but they offered a degree of customer service that is hard to find these days.

    It finally succumbed to internet competition, increasing urbanization, poor local hunting and fishing and heavy state regulation

    It will be missed.

    http://www.marinij.com/business/ci_19634876
     
  2. wannabeagunsmith

    wannabeagunsmith Member

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    That really sucks.
     
  3. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Thats sad,very common but still sad. Lightman
     
  4. deputy tom

    deputy tom Member

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    I hate to see things like this.tom.:(
     
  5. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Member

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    I always hate to see a good gun shop close.
     
  6. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    While a shame, it sounds like they kept their original business model -which might have worked well 65 years ago, but would fail today. to stay afloat, you must improvise, adapt, and innovate
     
  7. valnar

    valnar Member

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    While I shop at places like Gander Mountain, I'd rather see GM go out of business than a small place like this. It's sad indeed.
     
  8. Seanpcola

    Seanpcola Member

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    +1. There's something about a store that has been in business since "the good old days" that just can't be replicated. Plus the idea of family no longer perpetuating the business is sad. This is just like my RC model airplane hobby and the LHS going under. When I was a kid my pop would take me there and the excitement, smell and especially the attention payed by the employees to a customer, the willingness to share enthusiasm of the hobby/sport is being lost a little more every day. Knowledge being lost that may never be replicated.

    Sometimes I really just wish not to be around modern society.
     
  9. chevyman097

    chevyman097 Member

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    Why in the world would you? I have never seen even a "on sale" ad at gander mountain cheaper than a local dealer or Academy/cabelas/bass pro at that.

    Gander mountain is by far the worst.....cough "gun store" to shop at. Id hardly call it that.


    just my 2cents but anyone supporting a rip off like gander mountain is helping put out the small guys just because of a name and marketing gimmicks.
     
  10. smalls

    smalls Member

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    This makes me depressed. As a younger guy, I missed the opportunity to shop at places like this. GM and the like with un-personal staff have taken their place. I shop my LGS whenever possible, because most of the guys in there use what they sell, and are willing to show you in a hands on way how something works. The big box stores have a very un-personal, hands off attitude, lately
     
  11. valnar

    valnar Member

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    Well, I never said I buy guns there.
     
  12. Tcruse

    Tcruse Member

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    I agree that we should support local gun stores. I suspect that it is not easy for them when the big stores run "specials" that represent 20% or more off the street price for guns. I see lines of people filling out the forms for gun purchases just about every time I visit Cabelas. I also see "lots" of people that go to gun shows, in this area it seems that there is one almost every weekend. The only complaint that I hear from our local store owner is that they can not get the models that are popular, always seem to be on back order.
     
  13. splithoof

    splithoof Member

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    Bought more than one from a LGS, just because of great service. I try to make a yearly trip down to Los Angeles, just to buy something from one of the very few last holdouts, and afterwards send a letter to the mayor's office telling him what a great experience I had.
     
  14. crazy-mp

    crazy-mp Member

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    I would rather go to a smaller store where the people know my name than, Mega Hunter Warehouse, or what ever the wiz bang new store is, the bad part is stores like Bass Pro and Cabelas usually have ammo for the same price as my local dealer, yes they buy .22 ammo by the train car load but they also have a few thousand employees and a couple dozen stores, so they do make more per box, but they have to move a lot more boxes.

    Buying power is great, big overhead, not so much.

    It really is sad when a store like this goes out of business, their knowledge, experience and customer service is becoming like a old motel along Route 66, forgotten and longed for.
     
  15. Seanpcola

    Seanpcola Member

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    Don't know what it's like in other areas of the country but my favorite LGS here in Pensacola beats Academy and Bass Pro shop prices by a really good margin. The've been here a good while and I'll bet they stay a good while longer....I hope.
     
  16. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    (he climbs upon his soap box...and this may be the low road but hopefully it will educate)

    You have no idea how pissed comments like this make me.

    These stores are not going under because of failure to "improvise, adapt, and innovate" they are going under because of being under cut. I personally have seen this happen on more then once, and in more then one retail setting.

    Big stores buy more, when you buy for 200 stores and you buy 3 of each item you get a better price then the little mom and pop shop that just buys 3 of the given item. Then you get into the "branded stuff" by that I mean the Cabelas sweat shirt that sells for 39.95 and has an actual cost of less then $5. (I know I worked there..but more on that later) Profit on soft line goods is what keeps these mega stores in business.

    The little family owned shop is actually more flexable to market and customer changes then the big shops....changing policy in a place like Cabelas now takes an act of god...or more like those that think they are god.

    I worked at Cabelas before Jim and Dick sold the company, and it was a fantastic place to work, and shop. People where there to help you, customer service was actually #1. It was very strange to see this setup in a large retail setting. After the company went public about 7 or so years ago it changed a great deal, payroll was cut, and the type of people hired changed. Before you had guys that knew fly fishing in the fly shop, now you have the warm body. Now don't get me wrong there are people that work there that still love the out doors and work there for the one reason to be around the stuff they care so much about, but they are getting fewer in number....and they are growing frustrated.

    I saw the same thing happen at Borders....where the bottom line drove the company into the ground. People with no love or passion for the product ran the company and only about the bottom line. So the company drifted away from things and people that knew the product to warm bodies and selling paper and pink christmas trees that had huge margin.

    The company can kill itself (Borders) with poor management, poor customer service, and many other things. But to say adapt or die is a pretty harsh statement. I have found that small companies are generally better at the adapt part then the larger companies.

    Sorry if I came across as hard on this but I have seen the inside of borders for almost 30 years, my wife worked there, and I was with Cabelas for about 5 years. When a company goes public it looses tends to lose customer service.
     
  17. willypete

    willypete Member

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    Maybe it's just way too early for me to properly understand that, but let me try and break down my understanding:

    Big company pursues items that generate profit: this causes them to fail.

    Small, nominally adaptable business which can better respond to the needs of customers and market conditions fail because they... can't respond to being undercut, a market condition?

    That just doesn't make sense. Would you care to elaborate?
     
  18. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    It is possible for LGS to compete with box stores. All of the LGS in Memphis are priced better than the box stores. The largest one is priced well enough to compete wth the Internet. The profit margins are probably slim BUT you can make it up in volume. Plus, the sales of ammo, holsters, etc. can help your margins. Lastly, the used gun sales can help alot too.
     
  19. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    Yea it does not make sense. The problem (with borders) was that the profit margin on books is VERY small...this lead the upper management to look to other items they could sell that had high, in some cases very high profit margins. Everything from calenders to cards to bouncing balls and my personal fave....the PINK CHRISTMAS TREE. Then a few of these items do sell, so you get more, a few sell, more comes in, and it displaces the main thing people came in to your store for...books. They can buy bouncing balls at Wally world cheaper....and they have the New York top sellers as well. People stop coming because the first 20feet of your store is crap, and the old crap marked down that you can't get rid of...corp management wants the customer to walk past all this garbage in the hope that they will pick some knick nack off the table....customers are getting tired of seeing the book store turn into a garage sale, the staff getting cut and cut, no one to help, being told to just order online (borders farmed out their online sales to amazon because they did not want to invest in the technology....that does not make any money, I could start another thread on that) and they go elsewhere.

    Cabelas is cutting the staff to save on costs, now the stores look like a dump when before they were showplaces. Customers have hours long waits. It took one customer 4 hrs to buy a rifle before christmas....before that would have never happened.

    Small companies can compete with the big box stores, but they have to stay the course and have much smaller wiggle room when times get hard. The folks that own and run those business are the best this country has to offer.

    I buy most of my stuff at a little mom and pop shop, nice clean and can order pretty much what I need. Some things like off the wall dies and such they can't get and I will order from midway and such. I don't think I have bought a firearm, scope or anything like that from cabelas or BP after I quit working for them.
     
  20. willypete

    willypete Member

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    Thank you, that makes more sense to me.

    I try to support local businesses as long as the price difference isn't too extreme. E.g., I'll gladly spend a few extra bucks on a box of ammo ($30 vs. $25) but there have been local stores gouging ammo at $40 or $50 a box vs. $20 or $25. Not really sure I want those types of businesses to stay open, even if the alternative is Wally World.
     
  21. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Incorrect about big stores - every time walmart opens in an area, the number of small businesses INCREASE. I have seen old-time gun stores refuse to modernize, no internet, no transfers, no special orders, carrying yesterday's guns because the owner didn't like them, etc.....if you want to survive, you have to develop your niche and specialty that lets you go against the big boys and win - doesn't matter the type of retail environment.
     
  22. Tcruse

    Tcruse Member

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    I see Cabelas mentioned numerous times in the responses. My observation in DFW area is that it depends on the store. I went to one store and it was bad. Prices high, old stock, bad selection, sales staff that was less than helpful .... On the other hand, the store in FW on I35W is a show place, the prices are generally below the catalog prices, good stock, some very good in-store sales from time to time.
    There are sometimes long lines for gun purchase, but there are sometimes 20 or 30 people buying guns at the same time. The long lines appear to be the result of "paper work" and NICS calls. They have 8 desks setup for people to fill out the paperwork and as many clerks as space permits.
    I have spent time talking with several of the gun counter people and all of the ones that I have had contact with have well thought out opinions and represent their products in a "fair and balanced" way. They seem to all be long time employees and not a different set every time you visit the store.

    I usually do not buy from the other departments, but the other departments seem to be attractive. They serve some good meals in the lunch room.

    My point is that some "large chain stores" are good and some are not. It is hard to paint all of the large stores with the same brush. I have purchased from the local store, gun shows and large stores. All have a place and value, the good ones stay and bad ones should go.
     
  23. fpgt72

    fpgt72 Member

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    With cabelas each department is its own kingdom for lack of a better word. There is a store manager, hardline manager (hunting fishing camping) softline (clothes gifts) then asst mgrs for each, then there is a hunting manager, fishing manager camping and so on. Hardline is its own world....then there are opps, warehouse and so on. It is not out of the question to have over 500 people working at a cabelas and someone is there 24x7 to keep the place running.

    It is the general manager that rides over all of this, if he is good the entire shop is good if not then the little kingdoms start fighting over floor space and such and it is not good.

    So yes some are good and some are not, I was good friends with the HR mgr in texas and know a little about what you are talking about.

    But in talking about the little guy, sure if the little guy can hang on when walmart puts that 10/22 on sale at christmas for 69.99 there is no way he can touch that. And to see first hand the american consumer (not customer but consumer there is a difference) come into the shop and rant and rave that the little guy will not match that price. It is pretty hard to stay in business when (we) put such value on price and no value on service.
     
  24. xfyrfiter

    xfyrfiter Member

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    I will look at the mdse. at wallyworld etc. but I tend to buy at my LGS. Case in point, yesterday I went looking for a specific part, I checked local stores, and the web, I found the part at my LGS, they not only were very competitive with other sources, but when I purchased they installed it free. BTW it was a free float handguard for an AR15, (required dissassembly of the upper.) I will go there again.
     
  25. aprayinbear

    aprayinbear Member

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    Internet alternatives....

    It's already been said, but sad to see one of the good ones go. Same in the tool and hardware business. I was a furniture maker for 12 years and sadly watched as all local supplies for real woodworking tools dried up locally (just try to find a good set of carving gouges at Home Depot or Lowes.) These days I just expect to have to buy on-line and all to often that includes guns and reloading supplies.

    The good news is that there are some sincere Mom & Pop online dealers out there who offer good service and prices. I buy many things from individuals on-line as well. I buy most of my reloading dies and supplies from Lee Factory Sales. They are always super fast and the best prices around. I buy burl wood from a guy in GA, and bullets from MidAtlantic. All of these folks will take the time to answer my questions and with a lot more knowledge then the guy behind the counter at the big store.

    I'm also lucky to have a great local gun store about 1/2 hour away that is thriving and sells a good variety of powder. They know me and treat me well. At least I don't have to pay hazmat fees ordering over the internet.

    Sadly, one of my favorite gun stores burned down last year. Was the kind of place where everyone hung out talking about old guns (the owner was a collector for many years.) The owner just doesn't have the energy to reopen. It was a big loss!

    Generally I avoid the big stores, but I do go to a Bass Pro Shop several hours away to buy black powder. None of the local stores sell real black powder anymore.

    Not Perfect.... but I keep on shooting!
     
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