The plight of a Gunstore Owner.

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Panzercat, Feb 1, 2011.

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  1. Panzercat

    Panzercat Member

    Aug 26, 2010
    Now I know you're looking at 'lock thread' pretty hard right now and I'm hoping this is a legitimate topic based on the 'Rant of a gunstore owner'. I'm also hoping for a worthy discussion and not flamebait; but if it comes to that, I understand the need to keep our discussions above the board.

    You're a gunstore owner.
    I'm a gun newb.

    As a gunstore owner, you are probably going to be my first point of contact for anything related to firearms, including handling one. I probably saw that Berretta online and said, "I need that for self defense." and walked into your store asking to see one. We can debate whether I should have gone to a gun class before hand all day long, but I probably didn't like everybody else in sudden need of a firearm.

    Now, my knowledge gap is not immediately apparent. I ask to see the gun in question and like the kindly purveyor of firearms you are, let me handle it. At that point it becomes obvious that I don't know as much as my initial confidence suggested. I'm hunting for the safety. I'm fumbling with the mag. Don't confuse ignorance with intelligence... I'm not stupid, I'm just don't know my way around this model. Hell, maybe I'm an S&W guy.

    At this point, what do you do? What do you prefer I should have done? Would you have just liked me to state my ignorance straight away before handling the gun? Would you have helped me? How much? Why not?

    I'm asking these questions because I think the fact that we are all newbs at sometime or another gets lost or confused with stupidity and society has conditioned a lot of us to where being new opens oneself up to ridicule. I'm probably not going to let you know just how new I am regardless of how obvious it will become, so what would you have me do differently and why? maybe I can feel a bit better about walking in to your place and buying something if I knew what to expect.

    Owners responses appreciated, and of course, feel free to lock this down if it becomes a crapfest. That's not the point.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  2. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    I'm sure that there are possible situations that strain the simple answer, but the terms, "firm, gentle, polite, helpful, instructive, friendly, SMILE," and so forth all spring to mind.

    Don't stand there watching the new guy learn by trial-and-error until he drops the gun, sweeps the staff, and/or damages something. But don't jump all over him, either. Keep a level head, and even temper, and a patient smile on your face. Think, "grandpa," not "Drill Instructor." An obviously new or demonstrably inexperienced shooter is an opportunity, (both financially, to you, and on the grander scale, to the community at large) not a pain in your butt.

    "Here, (reaching gently, but firmly for the weapon) that one's tricky. Let me show you."

    "Now, I've checked this gun to make sure it is unloaded. But you should check it too. Here's how. ... Now, even though we know it is unloaded, let's still be careful to not let the muzzle point at anyone. That's a good safety rule for always, and it's just polite."

    "Say, there's an bit of a trick to this one..."

    "Now, this 1911 has a target trigger job, so we ask you not to let the slide slam home on this one..."

    "I'll be happy to show you all of these revolvers, but please close the cylinders gently. Some of these are pretty nice and we'd hate to have them pick up shop wear..."


    Of course as a newbie, restrained enthusiasm, a calm demeanor, and an honest -- let's say an UNDERstated -- opinion of your own mastery of the subject could not hurt. As well as basic patience for the shop owner you're asking to assist you. If you're going to take up some of his time, and you don't even know if you're going to buy a gun today, listen to what he has to say and take his comments as (potentially) instructive, not belittling personal affronts.

    "Hi! I've been wanting to stop in for a while, but I am completely new at this. I'm thinking of buying a .500 S&W, or maybe a KelTec. There've been a lot of home invasions by bears while out jogging in gang colors recently and I want to be prepared. And maybe do some target shooting. Where do I begin?"


    I think the big thing is patience and listening to the person across the counter. What does he (customer, or dealer) need from me (dealer, or customer) to come out of this meeting successfully? If he's not giving me what I need, can I indicate that politely and move our conversation to a better place? Should I simply take what I can out of the conversation, say "thank you," and move on?
  3. dovedescending

    dovedescending Member

    Mar 10, 2010
    NW Georgia
    :D :D :D

    I'm a meek sort of person when it comes to gun shopping. Or any shopping for that matter. I always feel like I'm asking a personal favor from a complete stranger when I ask to handle a certain piece. Maybe it's the guy behind the counter though, they always seem slightly irritated if you don't seem ready to plonk a stack of Benjamins on the counter after 30 seconds of perusing the case.

    I agree with Sam. A degree of politeness is needed on both sides of the counter. Don't be afraid to gently correct customers who need a little guidance. And don't be afraid to ask for a little help if you're not familiar with the weapon.
  4. henschman

    henschman Member

    Nov 13, 2010
    Oklahoma City
    When I've been in that situation, I've had the owner take the gun back from me and show me how it functions, then hand it back to me and let me do it. This let me learn something without making me feel like an idiot.
  5. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

    Sep 26, 2006
    all over Virginia
    Every gun salesman should be prepared to tell the customer three things he likes about the gun the customer is interested in.

    Job is to sell guns.

    Make the customer WANT it.
  6. superscribe

    superscribe Member

    Jan 6, 2011
    My thread got locked before i could respond, but that's okay, because my response is valid for this thread as well.

    I'm not a gun store owner... but i know some. They vent to me. One of the biggest things I don't understand is why things are taken so seriously. If everyone would just be honest about how much they know, or don't know and not get so defensive, things wouldn't be a problem.

    Some of the responses in the last thread were good examples of defensiveness. When i was a newb, i made a lot of mistakes. I know that somebody was in the back laughing at some of the things i said. What i learned was that it was okay to say, "i don't know how what that is", or "ive never played with such and such action". I don't base my worth in life on how much I know about guns, so that allows me to laugh at myself, which generally makes it easier on everyone around me (like when i pronounce casull wrong). I think that's a good policy to have, especially as a newb.

    I think if an owner saw you willing to ask and not take things so seriously, they'd relax too. If they put you down for being honest and asking questions, you have a different problem.

    Thee's a difference between seething in your mind and acting it out.
  7. bikemutt

    bikemutt Member

    Dec 24, 2010
    Vancouver, WA
    Just so happened I was in a gun store today looking to buy a certain piece. The salesman is very knowledgeable and helpful but he's really not listening to me as far as what I think I want. We do the dance for about 20 minutes or so and I get him focused on my reason for being there in the first place.

    I decide on a pistol, the one I knew I was really interested in the first place. He knows I'm a member at the range this shop is a part of so he tells me now I decided, go shoot it. Rent it first, shoot it first. He dug his heals in, he was determined to make me go shoot that darn gun before buying it.

    Anyway, it finally got through to me the guy is right. He knew he could sell me the gun, but he took the high road. I'll hit the range tomorrow and rent the gun, put 50 through it.

    If you read this far, may as well know it's a Ruger LRP.

    Then there's the local pawn shop, that's for another time, lol.
  8. stonecutter2

    stonecutter2 Member

    Jan 29, 2009
    Bloomington, IL
    Customer treatment is why I spent $450 at a local gun shop, and not at another that's literally 3 minutes from where I work.

    The guys at the shop I now go to are very friendly, give great advice, and really don't mind explaining things. The other shop acts like it's a favor to be talking to you sometimes.

    I think when someone new comes into a shop, and wants a gun but doesn't know much about guns, it's an opportunity for the guy behind the counter to make a sale and teach someone some gun knowledge and safety. Whether the customer makes this obvious or not, after some time i'm sure the store owner or employee knows it.

    I mean really, how long does it take to run down some simple safety rules and explain some gun functions?
  9. Ruark

    Ruark Member

    Jan 18, 2011
    Some things well said in this thread. I've been in the same situation myself as a customer. While I've been reloading and shooting for almost 60 years, I have very little experience with some modern semi automatic pistols with their releases and safeties and "decocking levers" and whatnot, and have to ask a sales person to show it to me. I appreciate him or her just showing me politely and not assuming that just because I asked, it means I've never held a gun before and I'm some kind of annoying retard. A little professionalism goes a long way.
  10. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    I'd do pretty much what Sam said.

    You do whatever you want. If you take to listening and learning, I'll spend more time with you. If not, I won't.
  11. mcdonl

    mcdonl Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Southern Maine
    It is hard to answer that question as you have asked a group of gun owners who prefer to do their research, ask questions on a forum and go in prepared.

    I do not know how I would expect you to respond as I cannot even imagine acting like that.

    I suppose if I were in your shoes I would ask the customer if he would like a "tour" of the gun. Otherwise I would just let him fiddle and fart around with it. He is a customer, and he may purchase it. If he drops it and breaks the gun or the display case, he or your insurance customer will be paying for something, that's for sure!

    I bet that all gun store owners can think of a good, loyal customer or two who were a pain in the butt newbie at one point or another.
  12. philpost

    philpost Member

    Dec 20, 2009
    Ft. Myers, FL
    I did fine by admitting I didn't know a hill of beans the first time I walked into a gun store. I signed up for a class, asked a lot of questions, actually made a purchase after the class, obey safety rules, and put in time at the range. Too many people have egos that won't let them admit they don't know something and ask for advice.
  13. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

    Apr 24, 2008
    Hot and Humid FL
    Folks have two ears and one mouth - that's because you're supposed to listen twice as much as you're supposed to talk - if folks on both sides of the counter did that in a civil manner, these threads would be moot
  14. 52grain

    52grain Member

    Jun 21, 2009
    I have always found semi-automatic handguns rather less than user-friendly. That said, if I come accross a model that I am not familiar with and the person working the counter seems knowledgeable, I have no problem asking questions about it.
  15. Millwright

    Millwright Member

    Sep 16, 2007
    New Jersey
    Interesting post, TC !!

    Like buying anything, I'd say it all depends upon the altitude/attitude equation ! "Altitude" is the cost of what you want to look at; but "attitude is a bit more complex......

    First off, look around.....Does your appearance fit in with other clientel in the store ? IOW are you in dreadlocks, spikes, wearing chains, wearing a lot of facial jewelery or a grille when everyone else is in working class clothes or button-down stuff ? Unless you've got crisp new Franklins protruding from every pocket/orifice better to blend in.....

    Segundo, ASK !! Repeat ASK !! When you want to examine a firearm politely ask your clerk to clear the weapon. You'll learn two things. Primus, if he knows what he's doing. If he does, he'll explain what he's doing and what to look for. Secundus, you'll gain some knowledge about the weapon so as to not be an obvious jerk with all that money sticking out.... And if the clerk serving you doesn't/can't hold up his end, find another......

    IOW, think of this sort of shopping as a trial marriage. Both parties have a great deal to learn about one another in a short time frame. You have to learn enough to weigh the clerk's opinions. He has to learn if you're a serious buyer or a "tire kicker"......Such encounters can be Saturday Nite Specials or develop into long-term relationships. It all depends upon the opening moves......

    All of this is complicated by endless federal/state/local regulatory inhibitions. So be polite !! To you its a purchase. To the clerk it may mean his job and/or endless legal hassles he doesn't get paid enough to contend with......>MW
  16. Str8Shooter

    Str8Shooter Member

    Feb 12, 2006
    I recently bought an AR-15 online and had it shipped to a local FFL. When I went in to do the transfer, he asked if I knew how to break the rifle down for cleaning. I answered no, because I've never owned an AR before. He very kindly gave me a brief tutorial, and I really appreciated it. Didn't mind at all paying him 30 bucks for the transfer.
  17. TCB in TN

    TCB in TN Member

    Jun 23, 2006
    Middle, TN
    I know a decent bit about some firearms, little to nothing about certain others. If I am comfortable handling one then I do so, if I have questions then I typically ask. Don't think I have to know it all, of course I do take guns seriously so I try to pay attention so that i don't have to ask twice.

    Now it is funny because in my early 20s I had already shot and handled a lot of different guns, and had a pretty good working knowledge about some of them. Always thought it interesting how some gun shop owners/employees acted when I came in back in those days. I have found over the years that acting as if you know little/nothing will often let you find out a lot about the store. If they treat a newb like an idiot, and feed them a load of crap (which happened a lot during my younger years) then I know to take my business elsewhere. If they treat ya right to start with then they are probably good guys to do business with.
  18. Ole Coot

    Ole Coot Member

    Oct 2, 2010
    Been shooting and buying firearms for 60yrs and I always ask the owner to familiarize me with a new firearm. I don't start fumbling with it, simply ask and I guess I look old enough and am familiar with firearms enough to ask simple questions. His attitude will determine mine and I have little patience with a person who acts like he knows everything.
  19. ghoster

    ghoster Member

    Mar 30, 2009
    Most places anymore are a roll of the dice so I wouldn't want to be a noob nowdays. If I get a good guy I have a good time discussing the various differences and their opinion of the different guns, If they are a jerk I slowly assess the gun and move on to the next one I want to see completely inoring him. Good guy's have a shot at a sale , bad guy's just get their time tied up with no chance of a sale. I figure the longer I have mr. jerk tied up the better chance someone that needs good advice has at getting a good guy. Likely better for the stores bottom line anyway.

    When I was a kid the next town over had the gun shop and if pop had some business over there he would let me and my brother run up to the store. The regulars (liers club) would always be there yabing and the owner would get the bar stools out so we could be tall enough to be at the counter. He would usally be working on a gun so we learned all about assembly and he let us handle any gun we wanted, showed us how it worked and basicly included us in the entire culture. He always had trash cans to empty and floors to sweep so we earned a brick of 22's every trip by the time pop came around to pick us up.:)

    I guess the point is it didn't matter who you were, if you came in you were welcomed, nothing was assumed, and if there was a sale great, if not you were still welcome to hang and pass the time.

    It would be great to have a (liers corner) at every gun store, Maybe a case with a selection of various guns and a cupple of stools. Have a coupple of guns dissasembled and just be a place where anyone could come sit down and get information on guns. Bring your gun in and we will show you how to break it down and clean it. Ask about a gun and I will go get one and show you all about it, kind of thing. Likely be able to get the regulars to staff it for free and provide an informational, no stress experience for the noobs.
  20. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    When I was selling guns 30 years ago I was always polite to customers and asked if they had experience with the particular gun they were interested in seeing. If the answer was no then I did a quick run through on the controls before handing it over. I answered all questions honestly and without sarcasm.

    I don't recall ever having anyone unhappy with the gun shopping experience.
  21. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

    Oct 22, 2007
    Central PA
    That would indeed be great! Sort of the old general store version of a gun shop.

    I have a print of this Aubrey Bodine photo on my wall at home: http://www.aaubreybodine.com/stock/05/05-061.jpg

    Unfortunately it requires leisure. We don't have leisure any more. A business owner with leisure time is a business owner who isn't making money and who won't be able to pay his bills. Every gun store I go to, it seems, has at least two or three guys waiting to talk to the counter staff. And that's great for the business owner (though they don't seem to be getting richer, just busier), but it precludes floor space and time to devote to an old-boys' corner.
  22. Dbaggerly

    Dbaggerly Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    It was not that long ago when I walked into my local gun store a newbie at 18 years old purchased my first gun. I grew up around some firearms, but, not many. My dad had hunting rifle and a shotgun that sat in a corner unused. I always had a desire growing up to learn more about firearms but just never had the resources to take advantage of. One day a neighbor asked me to go skeet shooting at are local club. I of course jumped all over the opportunity. I fell in love with skeet shooting.

    So as soon as I turned 18 I went to work looking for a good shotgun. I went to every gun store in a 100 mile radius. And out of all those gun stores only one store owner made me feel comfortable.

    Most gun store owners when I walked would just ignore me. And the ones that didn't ignore me tried to take advantage of me. I was new, but, I was also well educated. What the owners did not know was that I had researched all options online and in magazines for months leading up until my 18th birthday. My worst or funniest experience was when one store owner tried to sell me a used rusted 870 express like the ones from walmart for 400 dollars. I understand making money but there is no need to take advantage of someone. Finally I found a gun store where the owner was polite, well-informed, and helpful.

    Here are my tips from the newbie side
    • First be polite- don’t make us feel stupid
    • Be well-informed and just not full of it
    • Help us- U help us we will help you stay in business- Newbie are new lifetime customers
    • Don’t take advantage of the situation

    Daniel Baggerly
  23. rr2241tx

    rr2241tx Member

    Sep 12, 2007
    Gunshop owners are being squeezed so hard between the discounters, the national big box retailers and the floundering economy that it is no wonder they no longer can afford to have knowledgeable sales staff around to deal with tire kickers. Our guy finally had to choose between becoming an on-line operation and retiring because he no longer had the cash flow to afford inventory for the small amount of sales his loyal customers generated. He'll still order stuff for us, but honestly his cost is almost full MSRP. I just buy stuff from him to have an excuse to go by and visit.
  24. super b_AK

    super b_AK Member

    Jun 5, 2010
    As a buyer I like the store owner to spend some time with me. If I am looking to make a purchase I want to be coddled a little bit. If I am going to make a buy I will try them all and ask questions about the differences of each. The store I buy most of my guns from does this. If I am in a shop handling guns it is because I have looked around enough to know that this shop has what I want, and am going to make a buy.

    I also tend to do lots of looking and drooling (I can't afford near as many guns as I want) if I am just there dreaming I let the sales person know so he isn't wasting time on me. I don't go in and handle half the guns in the case and say "cool thanks" and walk out, I think it is rude. Besides a 1911, Glock or XD is going to be the same as the last time you looked. No need to get fingerprints all over it.

    I don't believe in messing with something when I don't have an intent to purchase. This is a pet peeve of mine as I have a brother in law who will go into a smaller shop and waste half the day there trying everything and picking the peoples brains, then run down to Sportsmans and make the purchase because it is $50 cheaper.

    If the store is slow I don't feel bad about discussing guns or striking up a conversation. If they want to show me something great. However I don't want to waste their time when there are other people looking to buy.

    If I am unfamiliar with a particular fire arm I will ask the salesman to give me a quick rundown before I handle it.

    I think a little consideration on both sides of the counter goes along way. However I am lucky as most of the shops around here are full of friendly, knowledgeable people.
  25. danprkr

    danprkr Member

    Apr 26, 2009
    I have started many a valuable lesson for myself with the phrase, "Forgive me here, but I'm not sure I even know enough to ask intelligent questions, could you please help me?"

    That usually disarms any annoyance, and gets me far more information than I even thought I needed. Sometimes even more than I wanted ;)

    In short honesty coupled with a desire to learn, and most people will do whatever they can to help you. Yes there are the curmudgeons, but you have that in any situation. Most will be happy to help.
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