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Opening a gun shop: Heaven or Hell?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by BigBlock, Jan 18, 2009.

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  1. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    As they say, if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. I love guns. I love being in the gun store and just staring at all the things I can't afford on the wall.

    The problem, there is only ONE gun shop in my area worth going to. It's about 10 miles away and leaves something to be desired. I can't imagine how many other gun owners in my area must feel the same way. The only other thing close are sporting goods stores that only sell long guns and overpriced ammo.

    So, on comes the thought about opening my own gun shop. :eek: I have found a PERFECT peice of property about 3 miles from my house, 5 acres to do whatever I want with, for a good price, and in a high traffic area. I'm a business man, I've run several businesses before, so I know what I'm doing in that regard. The main issue I see is with the ATF and getting a FFL. I have no question that I could get business in this particular area.

    So, before I even start doing a lot of reasearch....is owning your own gunshop something GREAT for a gun geek like myself? Or is it more trouble than it's worth? Anybody here own a shop? Is getting a FFL like pulling teeth?

    PS - 10% off and $10 transfers to THR members! :)
     
  2. greenr18

    greenr18 member

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    from all the dealers ive talked to with storefronts, its hell.
     
  3. Grassman

    Grassman Member

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    What would your liability insurance be?
     
  4. Impureclient

    Impureclient Member

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    "from all the dealers ive talked to with storefronts, its hell."

    Who wants competition?
     
  5. Eightball

    Eightball Member

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    Something tells me that deciding to open up a gunshop now, with Barry-O coming into office, would be quite the unwise business move.
     
  6. conw

    conw Member

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    Frankly your run-of-the-mill gunshop customer around here prefers to lean on the counter and talk about how Hydra-shoks can make someone's torso explode, guns will be banned Jan 20th, etc...more than they like to buy guns.

    I know a lot of gun shops do brisk business and probably make decent money after overhead...but I wouldn't consider it personally.
     
  7. jm

    jm Member

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    Good businessman

    If you are a smart enough businessman to run a successful business, you are smart enough not to open a gun shop. Or so I read somewhere.
     
  8. tinygnat219

    tinygnat219 Member

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    Just stop and think. Guns are a fun hobby, but retail is a down and dirty business. You have to make money to survive. If you want 80 hour weeks, then owning a retail establishment is for you.
     
  9. tpaw

    tpaw Member

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    Eightball is right. With BHO coming in, I'd wait a spell and see just what action he and his liberal friends will try to do. As it stands now, he only wants the military and police to have guns if he could have his way. Oh yes! I forgot! Criminals as well.......:cuss:
     
  10. Frank Ettin

    Frank Ettin Moderator

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    Retail is a tough business. It doesn't matter what you sell. And selling guns isn't all about guns. It's about running a retail business. It's about watching your cash flow and capitalization. It's about deciding what to stock and how much capital you can afford to tie up in inventory. It's about deciding how much money you can take out of the business to put food on your table and generally support yourself. It's about stocking what people want to buy, not necessarily what you like. It's about dealing with the needs/demands of sometimes unreasonable customers. It's about paying bills and maintaining your store. It's about hiring help and paying attention to the labor, tax and workers' compensation laws. It's about figuring out when and how you can take vacations and what to do if you're sick.

    Some folks like retail. They like the challenges. They like selling and marketing, growing their business and making it prosper. They like the idea of creating something for themselves and their family. If those things appeal to you, you might like owning a gun store. But it's really not about guns.

    Some years ago, I was in retail. And I found that for me, trying to mix a hobby with business really wasn't all that much fun.
     
  11. Haywood

    Haywood Member

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    I work at a Gun Shop. From what I see If you are a good business man and know your product , you should be OK. You must make sure your paper work is in perfect order. Your Gun Inventory Book must have every gun that comes in and goes out recorded. Name of gun, model, serial no., caliber, action, type of gun, and ware or who it came from with full address. The 4473 form that each buyer must fill out has to be filled out correctly and kept on file. The ATF can come in at any time and ask to see your book and 4473s. I here they are strict about screw ups and books that are not up to date. I am in the Cleveland, Ohio Suburbs. The shops that have a Shooting Range seem to do well and there are are a few shops with Two or Three Stores that appear to do good. The Store I work at is just a little hole in the wall hang out that has limited hours and everybody working there is retired. We don't have to worry about making a living from sales. If you have been or are in your own business then you know about the 26 hour days and the 8 day weeks. You gotta love it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2009
  12. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    Yeah, it certainly wouldn't be until after Osama *cough* I mean obama comes into office. But there's no way he can possibly ban guns outright...so whatever is still legal, is what I'd sell.

    What I base most of my idea on is what I see at the other local shop. What I do know for sure, it makes enough profit for at least 3 full time employees and an expensive retail storefront. It is a very small store, and every time I'm in there it is CROWDED, and there's always at least 1 or 2 people counting out hundreds and doing paper work.

    What kind of profit percentage does a normal small gun shop usually make from a brand new gun?
     
  13. BigBlock

    BigBlock member

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    I agree, but I'm mostly interested in how guns compare to other retail settings - like a pet store or a clothing store. I do have some capital to invest and I would be building my own building. Gun buyers seem like more of a captive audience for me since the stores are so few and far between.

    My other business model that I ALWAYS follow is to sell things for as cheaply as I can and give the best customer service that I can. It has worked well for me in the past. I also like the fact that while our economy is failing, gun business is still through the roof.
     
  14. scrat

    scrat Member

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    For sure i would wait until the economy gets a little better. the initial start up cost on opening up a gun shop could get into your pockets a little deep and with not a lot of people spending money right now. I would think twice about opening one. However if you are really serious about it the best thing to do is start to figure out all of the financials and whats needed on opening up the business this is going to be where you need to put in the serious leg work. come up with a good business plan and find out what you want to tailor too. you dont want to just sell guns. you will need accessories galore as well as you need to figure out how much you want to put in. being a reloader as well as a shooter i can tell you us reloaders are always looking for places to purchase supplies. The hunter as well hunting clothing and maybe even fishing would draw in more sporters. However it will require a bigger start up.
     
  15. Prince Yamato

    Prince Yamato Member

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    I don't have an FFL, so take this with a grain of salt. I honestly believe that opening a FFL is a massive undertaking. Obama conspiracies aside, we're in a crap economy. You're going to spend a lot of money stocking your storefront and building your business and you're not going to be able to recoup your losses. The one exception may be if you form your business model off of aimsurplus or something like that. Some of the online retailers seem to do quite well and there's only a handful of the "great ones".
     
  16. Tyrannosaurus

    Tyrannosaurus Member

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    By opening a gun range as well as a gun storefront, you can significantly increase your revenue.

    Especially if you rent guns. If you have the capital, as well as the appropriate paperwork, you can rent out automatic weapons as well.

    (This might depend on which state you're setting up in, I'm not sure about state policies on rentals/automatics).
     
  17. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    Once I went into a store with my dad for supplies to tie his flies, and I remember him having a conversation with the owner about how he never has time to fish anymore.

    Just remember, if you have a gun store, you have to be open when your customers are preparing for and going hunting. Which means YOU can't be hunting. And like someone said above, it means stocking what sells, NOT what you like.

    I got the bug out of me when I sold guitars for a couple of different stores. I had a lot of fun opening and setting up the store, but it imploded gloriously when it never made a dime, the whole national chain went belly-up. And I was just a $10 an hour guy, I didn't have to deal with the stress of looking at the books every day.

    Having been in Impact's retail location many times, I don't think broad expertise has much to do with success.
     
  18. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

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    A one time shot more than a regular occurence . It's about over .

    Location, Location, Location , like most other retail business ,that is the most important, and you need to study the area very carefully. Not only the competition, but the firearms and spending habits of the populace. You won't have a lot of competition selling freezers to the Eskimo's , but might not have a great market .

    Overhead cost is another big factor now, and internet compitition is strong - mark up on guns are low in comparison to many other products.

    All that said, and a weak economy , I would approach the whole idea with a lot of caution . My friend has been in the business for 30 years and did a major upscale about 18 months ago - there is no picnic getting enough sales to pay the overhead.
     
  19. chris in va

    chris in va Member

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    Couple things come to mind.

    I talked with a guy that opened a shop in VA. He had to fork over a WAD of cash to make his store relatively secure. Big vault in the back, alarm system, steel reinforced mesh on the windows, posts on the pavement out front etc etc.

    Then there's the constant paranoia of someone robbing the place, believe it or not. Criminals are stupid.

    He said one of his biggest peeves was people coming in, fondling the hardware then telling him they could get it cheaper somewhere else and trying to talk him down to within 1-2% profit margin.

    You'll be there all the time with little time off unless you can find a business partner. But then you'll have to split the profits as well.

    I'd call around to various stores across the country and see what they think. Chances are they'll give you some horror stories.

    Just something to chew on.
     
  20. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Member

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    I'd suggest asking yourself if you could handle running a retail shop selling, fish, shoes, whatever else, because I imagine having guns around won't be endlessly exciting.

    The guy that owns a LGS here hasn't shot a gun in three years, not by choice.
     
  21. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    15-25%. Same for ammo (at best). The profit comes from used guns and accessories (50-100% mark up).

    Like others have mentioned, it's running a retail business. As an owner, you're not going to be enjoying the guns. You'll be running a business with some of the most demanding protocols you can imagine.
     
  22. zoom6zoom

    zoom6zoom Member

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    And no matter how well you run your shop, how accurately you answer questions, and how great the deals and service....


    ....somebody's gonna post on at least one forum about what a d*ck you are.
     
  23. Kragax

    Kragax Member

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    My friend owns a gun shop and is also a gunsmith. Although I don't know the exact details I do know the markup on new stuff is not as much as most people seem to think. The sale of used and/or consignment pieces does work out better. A side of the shooting/reloading supplies help as do lighters, bumper stickers,candy bars, anything else to get the cash:eek:. Actually he is trying to sell the shop and just stick to gunsmithing. He WAS an avid shooter, but in the store all the time now. Guns are my favorite interest, but I learned from him that business is business no matter how much you love the inventory.
     
  24. SCKimberFan

    SCKimberFan Member

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  25. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

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    Amen to that one.

    It's a business. A lot of guys who love guns fantasize about owning a shop. You get over your love of guns to some degree when you handle them all day long.
    That said, I am three years into my own retail gun shop. I actually love it. I hate days like Thanksgiving and Xmas when I have to be closed. I am constantly emailing people about guns, looking up prices, searching for ammo etc etc. I've worked harder on this than anything else but I love it, so it isn't really work.
    I frequently post about the bozos I get in the shop. They don't bother me so much as make for good posting material and amusing stories. But most of the customers I get are actually decent people and most transactions go just fine. Make money? WHat's that? I have yet to bring home a dime. It is paying my health insurance and some other things. I am hopeful this year I will start drawing a salary.
    As for a range, can you really handle a bunch of "da boyz" coming in to rent/shoot their Glock 40s, etc etc? The idea of some of my customers with loaded guns in their hands gives me chills.
     
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