Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Snev22, Dec 6, 2019.
Welcome to 2014.
It is a hard row to hoe when you try to compete with online gun sales and huge brick and mortar. Most try to make 10%-30% on gun sales and you can't do it. I am lucky to make 5% on one. The only thing that keeps a small operation in business is sales of oddball or specialty arms and accessories. Ammo and many reloading supplies can be had online. Even powder can be ordered if you can justify the Hazmat fees by ordering large quantities.
The only way that I have stayed in business is by selling consignment for others online. If I had to rely on new gun sales I would have given up 8 years ago.
I have had a license for 9 years and work out of my house without a store front. I asked the ATF agent who interviewed me about not having a store front and he said that you would be surprised how many FFL holders work out of their home. Now, there are some distributors who will not sell to you without one, but the idea that ATF doesn't allow it is wrong.
Almost all of the businesses in my area that limit themselves to firearms and accessories have gone belly-up.
The successful ones sell a broad base of outdoor clothing, camping supplies, barbecue gear, hardware, farm and ranch supplies, military surplus, and various services.
Maybe a third of the floor is dedicated to firearm-related sales.
This allows them to survive the long off-season droughts.
-And yes, most also sell on GunBroker and other online services.
Good to know.
The most successful gun shop I frequent is Midsouth Guns in Wagram NC. Yes, I'll plug him. He keeps between 4000-5000 guns at al times. Yes you read the numbers right. He carries everything from Taurus to 50K Vintage Doubles and everything in-between. Been there many years and keeps growing if that is possible. He is reasonable on prices and offers great customer service. His secret is to try to keep something for everyone. From the low budget guy just looking for a cheap self defense gun to the high end collector, he has something to offer. He also does trade ins and buys collections, estates and from individuals who walk in. He also offers fair prices for buys and trade ins. He is in the middle of nowhere in a little town of probably less than 1k people but customers ride for hours to shop there and he has customers all over the United States. If you are ever in SE North Carolina, you should drop in and just look around. I'll bet lunch you will be overwhelmed.
First let me say that I am a proud jack wagon, thief if you will, and I have finger fouled more firearms than I can remember. Probably a great many more on this site exactly like me. I have bought, sold, traded many many guns. I'm slowing down but still have enough to keep my insuance agent in luxury automobiles. This year I only bought two I think. Neither off line and I finger fouled hell out of both of them and looked for the best price. So, speaking from modest experience I relate the tale of two gun shops. Both of these gun shops opened in the late 50's early 60's. The founders were gentlemen of the first order. You were always welcome there. Smiles, gun talk,BS and finger fouling was encouraged. I clearly remember telling the one (I was very young) that I did'nt have any money for the gun I was handling his answer was classic. He put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Yeah, but when you do, you'll be back." These two businesses grew every year until they were quite substantial. Then their sons took over. Talk about a couple of a$$hats. No touching and if you're not here to buy something get out. They lasted several years on the old mans rep but slowly but surely, they died. I did not buy a gun every time time I went in their shop but I took note of what they had and sold guns for them by proxy because I would tell my gun friends that were looking for different things that this or that shop had it in stock. In retail you have to remember that every customer may not buy and some come simply to steal BUT every one is a salesman for you if treated right. I was treated badly by those sons and I told people who told people and then they were gone. Good ridance. Customer service took Sam Walton into Walmart and that's the key. If you don't want people in your shop treat them badly and you'll get your wish.
Speaking for myself, the only guns I'm interested in purchasing online are AR uppers and parts (technically not a firearm).
I much prefer finding something unexpectedly or by chance browsing in person at the counter or on armslist (cant do armslist anymore because of new gun control in VT).
There isnt really anything appealing about purchasing guns online, unless you go the gun broker or armslist route I suppose. I dont wish to add additional steps to the already somewhat nuanced process of buying a gun, drive there, paperwork, 3 day wait, 3 days of questioning your purchase, engine light comes on on the drive back, buyers remorse, etc... but seriously, I usually find better deals on guns at my shop than anywhere online. Guns are usually the only thing my shop has cheaper than online though....
Good to know I’ll be near Wilmington in a couple of weeks
My local gun shop is a happy place for me, and I would hate to lose it. I go there about every week to check out inventory and maybe pick up a few odds and ends. Once in awhile I encounter something uniquely compelling, and it goes home with me. Other times, I have something I don't use or enjoy much anymore, and it is traded or sold.
I can see that the nature of the business has changed over the last 30 years or so, but one thing that hasn't is the respect that is the foundation of this business. Customers come in all shapes and sizes, and they all are greeted, asked if help is desired, and listened to. I try to be respectful as well, and enjoy doing business (and catching up on the antics of fellow gun people) at the LGS. I'm a notorious cheapskate, but there's much more to the story than $$.
There are many gun shops in my part of the world. None of them display their books, tax returns, profit/loss statements, etc. so I have no idea what their financial situations are. The same is true of every private business in the area.
Rust collector if you're ever going thru Iowa City on I 80 be sure to stop in at Scheels. A big store more like Cabelas but better. The salesmen and women always seem to be pleased you're there, you can handle everything mostly and they got STUFF. Stoppd there on the way west because we needed ammo. Happy little surprise for me.
Jackwagon and thief.
Well one thing about THR is I continue to learn what other people really think of me.
As I enjoy many different kinds of guns I rarely buy the gun I set out looking for. I spot something else in the display case and on the rack and buy it instead.
A lot of times I am what car salesmen call is a “tire kicker.” I don’t have a specific gun in mind. I have a long list of likes and it may come down to what tickles my fancy at the moment. For example I recently brought a S&W Model 64. 4” barrel K-Frame Revolvers are on my always buy list. I almost walked past. It took the salesman all of five minutes to make the sale. Even better for him was I pulled out a wad of 20’s and paid cash saving him credit card fees.
There is a dealer that doesn’t display his guns. He has everything listed on his website. You tell him what gun you are interested in and he goes to the back room and brings it out to look at. I told him that is missing sales to customers like myself who don’t have a specific gun in mind and make a impulse purchase. For me there is a lot of enjoyment in the hunt.
A successful salesman never prejudges a customer. Their main job is to create desire on the part of the customer. Create enough desire and you will make the sale. I once sold a real honest to goodness elephant gun to someone here in Kansas and he had no intentions of ever going to Africa. I sold a Sharps 45/100 to a guy that I doubt has fired it more than a few times.
Building customer loyalty is important. There is a small LGS that everytime I go to I spend money. In fact they know me well enough that they will dangle a gun in front of me trying to get me to bite.
Also, I would never ask him because I wouldn't visit the website. Now, I actually design websites and apps (and so on) for a living. All for it. But gun stores almost always use as their website this template tied to some common back end. NO way to tell what is in the store, as it lists every gun at every distributor they are signed up with instead. If you ask them, they say "oh, we can get it for you" and don't get the problem I have with this.
I don't visit the LGS to get a specific model almost ever. I do sometimes come home with an unexpected find because it's on the shelf.
One mistake the "shibes" make is they are lured in by a low price, without considering postage, insurance, tax,ffl fee and other costs.
IME, you start adding all those charges to the cost, and the internet prices start to look a lot less inviting. In some cases, the brick and mortar stores
have better prices, especially if they offer a discount on the FFL on the purchase, at their location.
Some of you totally missed the thief part.
Oh good grief.
Why will this nonsense not die?
ATF has NEVER had a "store front rule"....ever. Not now, not in 1986, not in 1968.
What caused your "co-workers or acquaintances" to lose their FFL's was more likely because they had "FFL's as a hobby"......clearly not permitted by ATF since 1968. Other than the 03FFL, Collector of Curios & Relics, all FFL's are licenses to engage in the business of dealing, manufacturing, importing or exporting AS A BUSINESS, not as a hobby.
Thanks for clearing that up. Gentlemen I referred actually predated 68, I started with the phone company in 67. Perhaps that’s was what the reference was.
My favorite LGS does a good bit of business in Tempe, AZ. All the employees are vets.
They offer memberships with $10 transfers, and discounts on everything. Online orders welcome anytime.
LE & vets get decent discounts. A full service coffee bar with Barista.
One method that works financially is they sell lots of entry-level guns and upgrade parts, and the onsite smith installs them same day.
The Obama boom definitely lead to some new shops going up, and subsequently going down as well. We even gained an indoor range. My localish brick and mortar store that's been around for decades appears to be doing well. We have a few big chain stores in my area, but I choose to support my LGS instead. They are good folks, have fair prices, treat me with respect and good deals. I hope I can continue supporting them for as long as I live in the area. If they go under, it's really going to stink.
"FFL's" didn't exist before implementation of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Prior to the GCA you could buy guns from the back of a comic book and they would be delivered directly to your front door.
My town had an upsurge in gun shops a few years back, the one that's doing the best has a a large variety of items, is located with terrific traffic exposure, has ample parking, is strategically geographically located, has decent prices and has knowledgeable, friendly salespeople. Myself included, I prefer brick and mortar to the internet as do many that have been burned by online sites.
If you open a retail store front, that is an open invitation for me to come in, examine your merchandise and ask you (or your employees) questions any time you are open for business. The only limit is your closing time. None of this obligates me to buy anything from you.
When I do come in and ask questions, peer through your scopes and try triggers, that is me accepting your invitation, not me promising to buy anything.
This thread has explained a lot to me; I had no idea that there were business "owners" out there who didn't realize these simple facts of life.
This thread does go quite a ways towards explaining why Cabella's is still in business.
There's only one reason people use the internet, and I'll demystify it for you: money.
Drop your price below the internet and I'll never buy online again. Otherwise, have a seat, you've been beat.
Here's a suggestion: call Bud, ask him how he does it, then pay attention and take notes.
Most gun shops say buy sell or trade except for the old timers ( a few still out there) nobody knows what FAIR trade means
If there’s something I want, I give local business a chance at the sale. I’ve not met a gun business, except for Scheels, that will price match, or even attempt to come close.
Even on basic items, the LGS are so far from the best price, I rarely consider them.
I wouldn’t fondle a gun in the store and buy for $25 less online. But my last purchase, they priced a rifle at $850, wouldn’t budge. I bought it from Buds for $475 and had that shop do the transfer. I thought the owner was going to refuse the transfer he was so mad.
Separate names with a comma.