Start a gun show

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by KY DAN, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. KY DAN

    KY DAN Member

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    Does anyone understand this process enough to explain it?

    I want to start my own but I have no idea who to talk to about the business side, taxes, event insurance, ect.

    I have 50 8 ft tables, 5 venues picked out, I plan to use Facebook as a primary means of advertisement along with posters in every location that will allow it.

    I plan to charge $10 spextator admission, $50 per table for vendors which cover Saturday and Sunday, and will the I will be giving away 2 firearms a weekend a ticket at admission gets you in drawing.

    Thoughts and opinions please
     
  2. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    IMO gun shows are declining in popularity. I don't think this is a good time to get started. I can order most new guns from several online dealers and have them shipped to a local FFL who does $5 transfers and come out a lot cheaper than a gun show. As far as used guns go there are lots of local gun trading forums where I can buy and sell a lot easier than a gun show.

    The Outdoors Trader
     
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  3. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    I would do free Admission, no one likes paying to go a show, charge more per table. If they can't sell enough to pay for the table they are just taking up space someone else can use. no tables with Chinese crap, maybe do some gun raffles.
     
  4. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    Perhaps where you are. We still get folks lined up around the block for our shows up here.

    One suspects that if you've got a couple good-sized dealers to get a couple tables each and bring a decent selection of reasonably priced new and used gun, you can make it work. Especially if you're in a state that doesn't require background checks on every gun sale.

    Seems to me that after the pandemic lock-downs, gun folk are anxious for a return to normal and would flock to a well-advertised show with some good draws.
     
  5. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    Someone once posted on here about a gun show that only allowed older guns to be sold.

    Dream come true for me.
     
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  6. KY DAN

    KY DAN Member

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    I understand your sentiment however this is about making money and what alot of people simply don't understand is these shows aren't put on for free.

    Anyone of the given venues at my disposal is 2-5000 dollars a weekend, factor in event insurance, pay for gun check stand worker, a simple bill board advertisement is 1500. It's all money and at 100 dollars a table there is no money left over for my efforts.

    I have worked for a promoter for a while and we try to explain this to those who refuse to pay and argue at the gate with us and no one believes the cost.
     
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  7. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    This is one of those business models that's slightly upside down. The vendors are the real customers. The attendees, and their money, are what you have to attract to sell to the vendors. The attendees are sort of your product, your supply that you're selling to the vendors. Attendee fees are nice to cover security and door prize, but you want as many attendees as possible to attract vendors. Of course it's circular. The more attendees the more vendors, the more attendees. You can also make money in side hustle, like food or raffle. Expect to give space to non-profits, but make it clear you want them to promote the event with their base.

    You're not selling guns, or antiques, or collectables. You're selling a market place. Do you already have a contact list of vendors? Got your sales pitch ready to convince them to invest in you and your show? This isn't Field of Dreams. You rent the hall they won't come without lots of advertising of all sorts for both vendors and attendees especially for the first one. Expect to invest and loose big time in the first show.
     
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  8. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

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    Don't charge for admission? Are you serious?

    The show I attended last weekend charged $8 for admission and the line was stretched for a quarter mile around the building.

    I've never been to a gun show that didn't charge admission.
     
  9. toivo

    toivo Member

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    I wish I could find an FFL who does $5 transfers! Around here, they're $25 to $45.
     
  10. AK Hunter

    AK Hunter Member

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    Gun shows are a has been like the film camera or the land line phone.
    The internet is faster & cheaper than any gun show could be.
    Now if you could find a way to have an "internet gun show" that would go over real good.
     
  11. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I am not real knowledgeable about this but I would see what insurance and / or bonding is needed to put on a show. I seem to recall that many venues require you to have some type of insurance to put on sales events and the cost of that insurance might make it cost prohibitive.
     
  12. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    Gun shows used to be a great place to get decent deals and find some of the not so common items. It's fallen out of popularity around here mostly due to insanely high prices and 50% or more vendors aren't even selling guns.

    Done right, and people will mark their calendar to make sure they don't miss the next one. Done wrong and you'll have people feeling the way some of the posters above do.

    If the OP is primarily interested in making profit, I can't help. But it might be more worthwhile to contact one of the outfits that does put them on.
     
  13. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    In the good old days, small local independent shows at the VFW hall, they were like the old days of the boat show or craft show: of course they are free admission. As stated above: the vendors with booths are the customer and your job is providing them an audience to sell to.

    If I had to charge admission I'd make it like $1 if I could. We're not saying take a loss, we're saying: up table prices to make it sensible.

    I also don't go to gun shows much anymore because they are all new garbage guns, new garbage accessories, and also jerky and candles. DNGAF. I'd try to get all or almost all gun dealers, and give a discount for people who want to display collections, formally or not. Allow for donation boxes, allow for prize giveaways, etc. Support those with you doing announcements at the show level.

    Concessions also keep people there, and can make you money. None on site? Okay, they usually suck anyway, so just have a local food truck come by. Even if first time you let them keep it all, after that you have probably shown how much business, you get a percentage of their take.


    Start with the governments. Have a plan, give them a copy (on paper, and ask for business card to email later) but ask them their limits, requirements, concerns. They will likely require their city cops be paid to be security, and do stuff like wire tie all guns on display. Limiting access is also important, so you'll have to check with venues to either put guards on every door or make sure all alternative exits are alarmed fire doors, or both.

    Talk to event planners who have used the venues. What are the hidden costs and what is the oversight issues for getting tables set, skirting, power, etc. etc. etc. You need a BIG checklist. Each venue will have pitfalls, so start documenting each of them if you can get the inside gossip.

    The venue and city/county will be the big negotiation cost points. Venue might want you to hire their security which is a cost on top of the police/sheriffs. That can get out of hand.

    Also be aware lots of folks are scared of the internet. Frame Facebook announcements as the new classifieds, that it doesn't bring weird "internet people" but is how things work. Seriously, that part of the proposal may cause furrowed brows among some you need permission from so plan ahead.

    Don't be in a rush. Be specific, but don't go into any meetings saying you need approval for the show in a month or whatever. Plan on it being 6-12 months out, so it's specific, a plan, but NO rush. If it goes well, have a secret penciled in reservation at the venue to run one 120 days out.

    Do a trial. Try to do one, with NO quick followup. Use it as a model for yourself, to change process, and to prove to other venues, governments, that you can do this.
     
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  14. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    The thought of free admission to a gun show would make me consider not going. Can you imagine what sort of loonies you would attract if they knew they could walk through for free? It would be a shoplifters dream, as well as a real opportunity for people to photograph or video themselves protesting for social media.

    If I were a vendor I would want attendees who were actually at least marginally serious about buying a gun. An entrance fee helps weed out the worst.
     
  15. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    Already done ... It's called the Buy, Sell, Trade "Trading Post" category of THR - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php#trading-post.21

    No need to talk to anyone because you are like several decades too late.

    It would be like trying to talk to people about opening a new shopping mall when most customers have left the mall scene decades ago and now shop mostly online at lower prices. How would one explain/justify the spending of money with no promise of "waves of customers" flocking to the stores?

    Same for gun shows. Over decades, gun show attendees have migrated to online sales for consumables like powder, primers and bullets along with accessories like magazines, scopes, gun bags, etc. And for vintage reloading equipment, I found them readily on ebay for less without walking around the hot gun show floor for hours being enticed by "trinket" sellers or jerky. And how many people "walk" anymore? Not many, when it is so much easier to sit back in the recliner and browse the internet.

    Even car dealerships are in jeopardy as there are online car dealers that will SEND YOU a car to your door for test drive with competitive "no haggle/hassle" internet pricing. :p (Last three vehicles we bought were researched online with lowest pricing in 3 west coast states from CA to WA and we just walked in and paid the internet pricing that were several thousands of dollars less - And I have not found a lower price since)
     
  16. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    It's a revenue stream for the promoter plus it tends to weed out the "tire kickers." Gun shows are crowded enough as it is. You want at least to have attendees who have skin in the game and are serious buyers.
    I disagree with this. For a collector, personal inspection is a must. You can't get that over the Internet regardless for how many pictures are posted.

    Even for current-production guns, the comparison shopping, selection, and price competition that are hallmarks at gun shows can't be duplicated on the Internet.
     
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  17. pharmer

    pharmer Member

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    No oxygen at all locally for a "new" gun show. Local mega dealer bought the Orlando-Miami circuit. Most all of the other shows have dried up and blown away. The "big Lakeland show" way out in an airport hangar is on life support since RP Funding (Lakeland Center) kicked them out. Shoot Straight (locals know who that is) gets the admit (currently $12), the table fees ($$$!) and has the largest inventory of new and used guns ($$$!) along with cases of ammo($$$!). Good luck. Joe
     
  18. Howland937

    Howland937 Member

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    To piggyback on your thoughts, free admission could be feasible:
    "Free admission to all Military, LE, CCW holders and NRA members and their spouses"
    That should include a large % of gun owners and exclude a large number of the people you're concerned with.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
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  19. twarr1

    twarr1 Member

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    IMO Gun shows are fading out. Some members have made good points like being able to inspect old or collectible guns and accessories. True enough, but the sad fact is, those kind of buyers are becoming rare. Almost everyone now is only interested in AR’s and polymer semi-autos. Tactical this and tactical that. Because those gun owners aren’t really interested in anything else, they have $$$ to spend on overpriced, over-hyped accessories made by ‘glamour’ manufacturers.
    All of this can be done online. The hype, the branding and the sales. Why trudge around a gun show to see several thousand square feet of tacticool stuff when you can view unlimited videos on the internet?
     
  20. Mike OTDP

    Mike OTDP Member

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    A lot depends on where you are...and where the dealers are. Not to mention the local gun laws.

    If you are in an area where there are only a few local dealers, you're in luck. On the other hand, if the laws don't permit walking out with your new gun, you've got problems.

    Example: At one time, there was a gun show in Upper Marlboro, MD (about 20 miles east of Washington). It was the only show in the region, so it got a lot of attendees from Southern Maryland. However, the dealers were from Baltimore...two hours drive from Southern Maryland. And Maryland law had a 7-day waiting period for pistols. Ultimately, that show went under.
     
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  21. Ranger99

    Ranger99 Member

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    That's been one of the biggest problems
    with shows here is the amount of
    tire kickers and lookee loos that crowd
    the place just to shake off the " boredom "
    or get away from mama and the kids.
    They have no intention of buying anything other than the sugar roasted nuts and
    overpriced salty jerky.
    Someone seriously looking for something, and maybe looking for some
    particular specific thing or firearm has
    to wade through these pinheads and
    hope they haven't muddied the waters
    with a seller that might have what is
    object of the potential buyer


    OP- if you really want to go ahead and
    host a gun show and get to the point
    that it's almost a reality, do everyone
    and your potential customers a huge
    favor and stringently restrict it to
    firearms and firearms parts and accessories and knives and hunting
    fishing and camping related items ONLY

    No candles, no outdated salsa, no purses of any kind, no costume jewelry, no
    potpourri, no miracle salves and lotions,
    no old age cures/fountain of youth or
    errection curealls, no time shares, no
    charity anything, maybe in a far corner
    all in one spot if at all, no food
    Just to start ^ ^

    Used to be here, anything that wasn't
    gun related couldn't be included.
    Then they started letting stuff in, but
    it was all clustered together in the far
    end if you weren't like 70 % guns.
    Now it's a total CF and not worth the
    extra blood pressure spike
     
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  22. AlexanderA
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    AlexanderA Member

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    I remember that show. As I recall, the space was somewhat restricted (the floor of a basketball arena?).

    The gun show action in Maryland moved to the Howard County Fairgrounds (west of Baltimore). Of course, the biggest gun show in Maryland has always been the once-a-year Baltimore Antique Gun Show, but that is specialized in nature (no modern handguns, for one thing).
     
  23. Dale Alan

    Dale Alan member

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    I believe you , There is a lot involved to put on a show , people refuse the truth . They have no way of knowing what happens behind the curtain , yet they have all the answers because they may have to pay 5 bucks at the door . Good luck with your venture .
     
  24. Blackbeard 44

    Blackbeard 44 Member

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    I attend my local gun show quite often, the last few years prices have gotten higher, selections have decreased, I still go to support the local 2A community, I always buy something even if I don't really need it, $10 bucks admission is normal, there is a guy that sells silver and gold bullion and he is always there, if nothing else I buy a few silver coins from him, I will buy raffle tickets and cookies from the kid selling them. I mainly go to show support and to hopefully keep the shows going, I have found some really good deals before and am sure I will find more, a few months ago I got 20 Pmags for an AR brand new in the plastic for $100, you arent going to find a deal like that online, last year I got a glock 26 brand new never fired for $375, there is deals ocassionally and being able to barter in person while physically examining the items goes along way for me.
     
  25. CoalTrain49

    CoalTrain49 Member

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    Waiting periods and mandatory background checks have killed gun shows here. What if you get a hold on a BC? I get those about half the time. The last pistol I bought took about two weeks after my dealer received it from the seller. There really isn't anything a dealer can do here until he gets a proceed from the state and all transfers need to go through a dealer, legally.
     
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