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Looking to start working at a gun counter at a local gun shop? Any tips?

Discussion in 'Rallying Point and Range Discussions' started by William Dykstra, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. William Dykstra

    William Dykstra Member

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    Good evening, I'm a little unsure which forum to post this thread in, so I apologize if i got it wrong.
    Anyway, I was looking at getting an entry level job in the firearms retail industry. Are there any tips that any former or current gun store employees would like to give me? Any warnings about particular kinds of customers that come in to the store?
     
  2. 1976B.L.Johns.

    1976B.L.Johns. Member

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    Paging swampfox907 in Wassilla, Alaska.
    You can help this guy out!
     
  3. s10blazed

    s10blazed Member

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    Not a gun store employee but I've seen enough videos, read enough articles, and heard enough stories to know step #1 is to always clear any gun brought in by a customer. Every time. Multiple times even? Especially if they say you don't have to worry because they already did. That means check it 3 times.
     
  4. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Don't correct the customer. Clear any gun you take out of the case to show and then model safe handling. Don't correct the customer's pronunciation of names. Don't show ammo with the gun at the same time. Don't denigrate the customer's gun. Don't badmouth the competition.
    Seriously, it is the same as any retail business with much more potential liability. Learn your local, state and federal regulations regarding firearms purchase, sales and delivery.
    Don't be afraid to gently move the demo gun the customer is pointing at you to a safe direction. I put a target on the wall and tell them that is what they may point at.
    I did "lose it" once when a customer came in, slid a rifle out of a case, pointed it at me and said he wanted to trade it. I gently moved the barrel up, asked for the gun, pulled the bolt back and ejected a loaded round. He laughed. "Gee, I've been driving around with a loaded rifle."
    After telling him how much I hated having loaded guns pointed at me I asked the owner if he would take care of the guy because I was about to hurt him. I went to the back room.
    Owner put the gun back in the case and suggested he go elsewhere. Guy never did think he'd done anything wrong.
    You will learn things that people believe which are so far fetched you want to shake your head.
    Tell customers when they buy that "package" gun and scope combo that comes "bore sighted" from the factory that it just might be on the paper at 25 yards and they have to sight it in themselves.
    I could go on for hours but mainly greet everyone, be helpful but not pushy and remember that the customer is always right, even if they are wrong, irritating, grating and demanding. Most are good folks. Some become friends. Some learn things. So do you.
     
  5. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Ask about salary, hours and benefits. Retail jobs pay crap. Ask about opportunities for advancement and raises. Look for on line commentary about the store to see if it is happy place.

    Do you have a people oriented temperament to stay calm while someone is nasty and asks stupid questions?

    There is more to a job than playing with guns. Take care of yourself first.
     
  6. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    No matter what, smile and remain friendly and you will make a lot of sales.

    If you shoot matches and your interest in guns is genuine, customers will sense it and you will sell even more guns.

    Buyers have internet/Google but many of us still like the human interaction and many that I know paid a bit more to buy from someone just because "he's a good family/ex-military guy". I get a kick buying guns from female staff genuinely excited about guns.

    Over the decades, I have become friends with range staff and they reciprocated by alerting me when rare/hard to get items get in stock and gave me first dibs when new stock/supplies are received. Same rule for me, I am always friendly when I am at the range/gun store (I can't help it, it's a sickness). What goes around, comes around.
     
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  7. Mizar

    Mizar Member

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    1. Like others said - be AN.L about gun safety. All the time. Even if someone (even your boss) considers you a "pain in the ...". Bad things need to happen only once.
    2. Learn what you are selling.
    3. Learn it real good.
    4. I mean it - learn it to the point you are intimate with those guns!
    5. Be well mannered.

    Bonus points:
    6. Dress well, even be on the conservative side.
    7. Always wear clean and well cared shoes.
    8. That stainless XD in a cheap Fobus holster you just got? Tuck that under your shirt, please.
    9. That G-shock watch the size of a water meter might look mighty cool and tactical, but it's a hell to wear around gun racks and ammo boxes.
    10. Have fun, but not too much - it's a job after all.
     
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  8. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't spout Internet cliches about stopping power, 5 is enough, politics (just nod), gender, race, etc. Read up on guns for women before you spout nonsense. Racking the shotgun - pass on that BS.

    If you haven't, touch base with the local competition locales. Might shoot some to touch base with potential customers. If you haven't had any real training, get some, perhaps make contact with local trainers and mutually recommend each other.

    This is a lot to do for a minimum wage job - going to get commission. See if the boss makes you push the gun of the week over your better judgement.

    Discuss what to do when the robbers arrive. Don't think that robbers don't come into gun stores, they do and have killed people. You ain't a hero for the boss' Kel-tecs or Taurus.

    Don't recommend a Judge. If you know your stuff, you wouldn't.

    Check out the salary, etc. again - that's the MOST important. If Home Depot pays better and more opportunities for advancement, go there. This is an example, I don't know if they are good place work.

    How stable is the store? Is this your life's work or something till you find that. Lots of LGS go belly up.

    Folks say that gun beginners talk about stopping power and experts talk about tactics.

    I'll say that gun store employees or ones wanting to opening up a store want to talk about the guns to stock. Real businessfolk or employees looking for a job talk the economic circumstances.
     
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  9. jdh

    jdh Member

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    Treat the customer the way you would want to be treated were the roles reversed.
     
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  10. Telekinesis

    Telekinesis Member

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    If you don't know the answer to a question, don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry, I don't know the answer but I'll find out". That is significantly better than just winging it and making something up. When talking with customers, distinguish between facts and your preferences.

    Try to learn as much as possible about the laws around firearms. You don't need a law degree or anything like that, but you should be knowledgeable about the laws regarding transfer of firearms and general use, and some of the big pitfalls (like a guy coming in to buy an AR rifle, and wants to put a short upper on it after taking the stock off - still a SBR and is illegal without an approved form 1). If the shop sells NFA weapons, you'll also want to learn about those in more detail, particularly the transfer process. Handgunlaw.us is a good place to find legal info for your state.

    And finally, you'll likely deal with a lot of people who don't know what they're talking about, but do be prepared to find yourself talking to a customer who is more knowledgeable about something than you are (even if they're younger than you). I can't tell you the number of times a gun store employee told me to do something that was illegal, or told me a "fact" that was just plain wrong, all because he was an "expert and industry insider". Don't be that guy.
     
  11. Mizar

    Mizar Member

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    No, no, NO, NO and NO.
     
  12. OrangeCat

    OrangeCat Member

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    Learn how to say no diplomatically.
     
  13. GEM

    GEM Moderator Staff Member

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    Best gun store clerk moments:

    1. Guy comes in to buy a pump because he wants to rack it to scare the BGs. Then he asks the clerk for blanks in case the rack noise doesn't work. The clerk recommends rubber buckshot as not to hurt the BG.
    2. Guy comes in to buy a gadget for his SKS. Fat commando (I shouldn't talk but I'm talking Captain Ahab bait). Moby bellows so the whole store can hear. IF YOU DO THAT YOU WILL GO TO FEDERAL PRISON. Dude says but I think... YOU WILL GO TO FEDERAL PRISON. Dude - you are an orifice (guess). Moby - as dude walks out: HE CALLED ME AN ORIFICE. Good call.
    3. Moby again - dude is looking a J frame. He wonders if 5 is enough. Moby: IF YOU CAN'T DO IT IN FIVE, YOU AIN'T DOING YOUR JOB
    4. I'm looking for a 22 LR revolver. Clerk has a 22 mag. I say no - he says, well you can shoot 22 mag in a 22 LR. Thanks
    5. They have a SW 632 (327 mag) marked as 22 LR. I say - that a 22 LR. NO, the 632 is a 22. Well, the 63-2 is a 22 LR. Surprise, not what you have.
    6. See if the store has a pseudo parking sign in front of the store, that says Perverts Parking Only and the clerk is wearing loose bermudas showing his concealed ..ahem..

    Morale of the story - don't be those guys.
     
  14. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Safety first! As others have said, check every gun brought in, open every gun before handing it to customers, open it after they hand it back.(If it isn't. It should be.) If someone behind the counter does not do these things, I lose respect for them right there; they then have to earn it back.

    Assume the customer knows more about the subject than you until he proves otherwise, then be tactful while educating him. If he knows more than you, cajole him into educating you.

    Get to know your repeat customers; establish a rapport with them. It benefits both of you. My LGS had a bunch of 209 primers, that came in with a gun, waiting for me at a price I couldn't resist the other day- even though the guy I usually deal with does not shoot Trap or reload. When they get new .45 ACP guns in, I get to see them before they go in the case. They'll set a gun or reloading stuff aside for me without having to put money down right away, because they know I'll be back in with $$ as soon as I can.

    Learn enough about aspects of the shooting world that you know little about, at least so you can answer some basic questions.At a shop I worked in, the owner did not like AR's (still doesn't, but at least he has finally put some in the racks) milsurps, and military type guns in general. (except 1911's) He is into the Browning O/U's and Benelli autos, and sells lots of them. (nothing wrong with that, but some balance is nice.) Counter guys are retired cops or kids into duck and pheasant hunting mostly. When I worked there I tried to impart some knowledge about military type guns, and some of it stuck, but they are missing out on a lot of sales.

    Don't expect to make a lot of money, as mentioned above, plus be careful with the store's associate purchase policies; Texans have a saying, 'gun poor', and working at a gunshop is one way to get there.
     
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  15. Tilos

    Tilos Member

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    I was hired on to work the gun counter at a new, now defunct, Gander Mtn.
    Not a lot of other people with any gun knowledge worked the counter though.

    I made the mistake of bringing an 4473 form out to the counter to tell the guy he was denied.
    He got all huffy and demanded a reason so I gave him the number to call to find out, a number just for questions.
    That didn't pacify him and demanded I find out why he was denied.
    Here's were I went wrong, I asked him if he had any criminal charges he didn't list of the form(?)
    I think he just clicked and remembered that subject to criminal charges clause on the form...
    That's when he came over the counter to try and get the form back from me.

    Think long and hard if you want that kind of aggravation for minimum pay, I know it's not for me, I transferred to the camping dept. :uhoh:
    :D
     
  16. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Have another hobby in mind.
    I have seen lots of dealers and clerks get burnt out on shooting because they spend all day with the guns and gun buyers.
     
  17. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I sold firearms for a few places, but really, really enjoyed when I was basically "the reloading guy" for the stores... Loved talking/teaching folks about it unpaid, figured why not get paid too. My experience was pre-internet, but...

    Glass counter tops and heavy metal objects don't mix. Use the cushioned mats makers give away as swag. As mentioned many times, open the action of every gun you hand over, and open before placing back on the the rack (give em a wipe down too). Get used to spending a lot of tine with a 'customer' only to have them use this to buy elsewhere. Be careful as mentioned with ammo near the area showing guns... Never had a problem, just the same I was always watching like a hawk.

    Many times dealing with women was a much nicer experience; they truly wanted to learn where a lot of guys could not be told anything/knew everything. There is always that one fella who has to sit at the end of the counter, drink coffee all day (smoke when you could), and add to what is overheard. As much as customers always think they come first, don't take crap from the BS artists/dirtbags - Had folks say crap that by virtue of this, I would not sell them a firearm.

    As said too, if not an intrinsic trait, always be polite and tactful... The stories about the guy with the filthy boots, and beat-up looking clothing putting many $100 bills on the counter are true. Saw a guy spend as I recall $5000 at one shot, on Colt Sauer rifles for Xmas gifts. Guy was a contractor just getting off a job, and I learn he has done similar for years. This was in the late 80's, and that is a hell of a lot of bread then or now. As said if you don't know something say so and better yet get the answer. NO ONE wants to hear crap from a guns store commando, and as said too, learn, learn, learn. Good luck, and have fun (hope you get a fat store discount too).
     
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  18. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Working a gun counter at a pawn shop was some of the best work I ever had. Not enough money but I got to see a lot of neat guns.

    Any firearm prejudice you might have right now needs to be put aside. Unless there is ample evidence that something just does not work keep your mind wide open. This is how I learned HiPoints actually do work.

    Something annoying is when the owner does a big package buy after SHOT show. So back in 2009 Fivesevens were total turds. No one wanted or liked them. So the owner buys a huge FN package. 20 Fivesevens, over 50 various 9mm, 40 and 45 FN then new FN polymer handguns, 10 FNARs, 10 FNP shotguns, and 10 PS90s just to be able to get two spanking new SCARs at some later date. That was how some distributor took advantage of the scarcity of SCARs and got rid of their worthless crap that won’t move in a GS very fast. So pressure was on to sell FN.

    Then Ft Hood happened and for better or worse that got rid of the Fivesevens and they have been more popular ever since.

    All that other crap eventually moved but toon over two years and selling many of the PS90s at a loss.

    Figure out what sells and get lots of those and try not to get too heavy on things that are cool but really only have a cult like following such as 10mm.

    Back in the day you could not keep a 642/442 on the shelf. Mossberg youth 20 gauges sold lightning fast. RIA 1911s too.

    Seems like now it is all about micro 9s and PCCs.

    Pre owned inventory has high profit margin. Be willing to deal on trade ins and try to keep lots of pre owned in stock even if it means taking on consignments.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2019
  19. Sam

    Sam Member

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    Remember you are there to sell guns.
    Your passion in the matter is not germane.
     
  20. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    When in Rome... imitate your most successful coworker.
     
  21. stevekozak

    stevekozak Member

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    Avoid the phrase "What you REALLY want is....." No, what the customer really wants is what they just told you they wanted. They are filling their gun safe and not yours.
     
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  22. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    Under no circumstances should you get into a discussion about local, state and federal law unless you know your facts for certain. Seen a number of really bad and incorrect law advice being given by gun store employees that in some cases could get a customer arrested. Just stay away from that if at all possible.
     
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  23. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    You may want to work in a gun store because it is great to be around that many guns. After a while, they just become chunks of merchandise

    If you are knowledgeable, you you be astounded at how many people are not
     
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  24. George P

    George P Member

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    Be honest, let the buyer decide, do NOT push your personal beliefs on ANY subject
     
  25. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    The Best salesmen in any industry have one common trait. They are good listeners!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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