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Thinking of becoming a gunshow vendor.....any advice?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by jsalcedo, Aug 30, 2004.

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  1. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

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    Since I got my C&R I've noticed fantastic deals on accessories, ammo, black powder guns, air rifles and so on.

    With some of the companies I've been buying from they specify that they only sell to FFL's (including C&R) or give special pricing to FFL holders.

    I was thinking it might be worthwhile to rent a table at the next gunshow
    and resell, ammo, spare parts, surplus, black powder guns, barrels, etc...

    I know as long as I don't sell guns I'll be ok with the ATF. But I was concerned about reselling surplus ammo.

    Anyone have any warnings or advice for someone starting out?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Kodiak AK

    Kodiak AK Member

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    I think there is an ammo only FFL . I know you need one to sell reloads.
     
  3. The_Antibubba

    The_Antibubba Member

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    Breadth of knowledge?

    Learn everything you can about stun guns, Nazi memorabilia, and beef jerky.

    Learn to say the most outrageous statements with a straight face.

    Learn "gun show" math-why a worn out revolver is worth three times more from you than from a pawn shop.
     
  4. Cool Hand Luke 22:36

    Cool Hand Luke 22:36 member

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    Make sure your table has some actual firearms, components & accessories.

    If you stay away from the Beenie Babies, Jewlery, Klingon Swords, Beef Jerkey, Nazi Uniforms, and Real Estate, you'll be way ahead of 2/3rds of the tables at the show
     
  5. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    I think you'll find that it is a hard way to actually make any money. Give it a try though, if you want, just don't invest too much at first.
     
  6. Lone_Gunman

    Lone_Gunman Member

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    You will also make less money.
     
  7. Bacchus

    Bacchus Member

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    Figure out a way to get repeat customers...I know that whenever I get something from a vendor, I always go back to that same person when the show comes back in town.

    Business cards might be helpful. Then people could contact you if they are near you.
     
  8. NoVaGator

    NoVaGator Member

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    make your beef jerky extra spicy and take a bath
     
  9. Nathanael_Greene

    Nathanael_Greene Member

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    All kidding aside, customer service can be a make-or-break thing.

    I've seen too many dealers who equate "customer" with "moron," and that's a real deal-breaker for me. I don't care if 90% of the customers are morons, that doesn't make me one--and even if I were a moron, I sure wouldn't appreciate being treated like one.

    Put another way, you've got to be a real extravert people-person. Are you?
     
  10. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

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    LMAO!! [​IMG]

    Sawdust
     
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    One caution. You may be OK with BATFE, but once you engage in business (which is what you pland to do) watch out for other laws, federal, state and local, not just on selling guns, but on selling anything as a vendor. Many states require that you collect sales taxes and keep records, obtain a business license, maintain books, pay business taxes, etc. The feds may also hit you on business taxes, income taxes, and the excise tax on black powder guns and ammunition.

    I know many gun show dealers who don't bother with that sort of thing, but I have known a few who got in deep trouble because they ignored the "minor details".

    Jim
     
  12. dukeofurl

    dukeofurl Member

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    Kodiak - There is no "ammo only" FFL you need to sell ammo.

    You *DO* need a federal license to manufacture reloads, but thats a general ammo manufacture license.

    Being a gun show vendor works if you have several things going for you:

    A lot of free weekends
    A strong gastrointestinal tract
    A LOT of stuff you want to sell - and are flexible with the price.
    The patience of a saint.

    You will get the most insulting offers - $350 for a NIB condition glock with night sights, $150 for anny K frame S&W, stuff like that.
     
  13. Lagadelphia

    Lagadelphia Member

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    Don't forget to price everything about $100 more than it can be got for locally. Guys selling New Glocks with standard sites for $525 and up!!
     
  14. Cacique500

    Cacique500 Member

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    Ditto on the people skills. You'll meet some fantastic people and you'll also meet some crazies. I've had one guy that comes up to me at every show...and I can usually see him coming from 4 or 5 rows away...he'll engage me for no less than two hours (this has happened at multiple gunshows). His goal is to collect a piece of wood from every species in the world ( :rolleyes: ) so he always comes to look at my grip scales. He never buys a thing.

    I'm always polite but if another person walks up I try to 'disengage'...

    Take a good book or magazine to read for the slow times of the show and it's nice to make friends early with nearby vendors when you need somebody to cover your table for bathroom/food/smoke breaks. Better yet, take a buddy who has nothing else to do that weekend.

    Also keep a wary eye on your table...things can and will 'disappear'

    Good luck with it!
     
  15. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

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    Luckily, I do take a bath once a month whether I need it or not :neener:

    The free weekends are no problem and I am a good salesperson.

    If I do my taxes correctly the gunshow sales will be a hobby and I won't
    have to worry much.

    Treating people with respect is one of my strong suits.

    I was just wondering if there were specific items or selling techniques
    that I should be thinking about and if having a gunshow table is even worth considering.
     
  16. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Be sure you can tell the real ones from the fakes.


    :neener:
     
  17. auschip

    auschip Member

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    The real ones have "da Switch".
     
  18. dukeofurl

    dukeofurl Member

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    Oh, and have more than one person. You do need someone to cover the table and someone to talk to.

    If you're feeling REALLY saucy, get a small workbench and set up your Dillon 550 and start loading behind the table.

    At the end of the show you should have 1000 rounds easily, if not 2 or 3000.

    Another way to make money is to take orders from other vendors and go over to a local sub shop or fast food joint to get something because gun show food is mostly mystery meat between bread. I've made a lot of friends who share a semi-sensitive gastrointestinal tract.
     
  19. Wayne D

    Wayne D Member

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    I would consider selling something small and light, think about how heavy and awkward ammo will be to carry to and from the shows. Tables with handgun grips and laser sights seem to popular at shows. Good knives draw a lot of people too. Scopes, red dot sights, air soft guns and tactical flashlights are ideas too. Oh Yeah, I almost forgot those wooden rubber band guns.:D
     
  20. dukeofurl

    dukeofurl Member

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    Wayne, all great ideas that are also ripe for being stolen.

    You dont know HOW many knives are taken off a knife dealers table on the average weekend.

    Do some fast math.

    One surefire light walks away and you're in the hole a good amount of money. How many items do you have to sell to make up for the loss?

    BTDT.
     
  21. 444

    444 Member

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    The first thing to consider is: do you have something to sell that is unique or at a price that would cause people to buy something from you rather than someone else.
    I don't know what kind of discount you get with your C&R FFL so I can't comment on that. It just seems to me that I can buy everything at the gunshow other than guns and have it shipped right to my door. And, I don't have to pay sales tax on it, if I bought it from out of state. Yeah, I have to pay shipping, but so do you and I save the tax.

    I could never do it, even if there was a lot of money to be made. I don't have the personality. I have spent a lot of time hanging out at my local gun store. And I have been to a lot of gunshows. IMO, for every dealer that is a jerk, there are 1000 customers who are worse. People will spend a lot of time doing everything to beat you out of a dime. And the amount of money they are spending is peanuts. I see people at my local dealer going through a 10 minute decision about buying ONE 50 round box of .22 ammo. One of my friends is an absolute jerk. I have actually been embarrased to be in a store with him. Yet, when you talk to him, the dealer is the jerk and he has an ever increasing number of dealer he won't go to because he says they are jerks. I tell him that maybe if he bought something once in awhile rather than pulling their chains and wasting their time, they might treat him better. One of my faviorite gun store experiences involved him. He walked in our local shop (I was there hanging out) and asked the dealer if he had any .45 Colt brass. The dealer said yes, it is $XX. He yelled WHAT ??? Midway has it for $XX. The dealer reached over on the counter for the Midway catalog he just got in the mail and said, no, Midway has it for more than I do. Friend then says, Oh, OK, I'll take it. Dealer said, F you. This is what you are in for, and that doesn't sound like much fun to me.
     
  22. Edward429451

    Edward429451 member

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    Take enough product. I got a table once when I had my ffl and tested the water with some exotic ammo. Sold out in an hour and had some thumb twiddlin to do...
     
  23. ken w.

    ken w. Member

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    BECOMING A VENDOR

    I have been a vendor for the past 8-10 years and I have had shows that paid to restock my intire inventory 10X over to shows that I've spent more on lunch than I took in in 2 days.The last show I did I rented 5 tables at $45.00 each,$45.00 hotel,$20.00 food,and all the stuff I had to pick up at the show $100.00 = $390.00.
    I brought in just over $650.00,of witch $300.00 was going to be paid out on a consignment gun.That left me with $350.00,of witch I made about 30% profit = $105.00.
    Was my time worth $105.00 to drive 3 hours,spend 2 days at a show,and come home with $105.00? I didn't think so.
    I'm still going to do them because I enjoy going to the gun shows.But,to think that your going to make a ton of money at the shows,well,don't hold your breath.

    And,Yeah take a dang shower and brush your stupid teeth.:banghead:
    How can anyone go in public and be so smelly and dirty ? Whats wrong with these people.I'm going to rip off the maids cart one of these days and hand out hotel soap to these stinko's.:evil:
     
  24. Wayne D

    Wayne D Member

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    Duke,

    Sure, small items like knives can be palmed and easily stolen. Most knife vendors at the shows up here sell out of display cases so you have to ask to handle one.


    444,

    I'm like you, I don't have the personality for it either. I learned that at my one and only yard sale. I was so pissed when it was over that I swore I would never have another. People would drive up in $30,000 conversion vans, pick up an item worth $20 that I had priced at $2, and offer me fifteen cents for it. I now take my old stuff to Goodwill or Salvation Army or give it to an individual. If I'm going to give stuff away, I'll give it to someone that needs it.

    There is a vendor, that is at every gun show I've been to, who is pissed off the whole time. Every time I walk by his table he is complaining to his buddy because someone didn't fill out the papers right or is handling the guns too much or wasted too much time trying to talk down the price, it's always something. It looks like after ten or fifteen years he would either learn to accept it and calm down or quit coming. I've quit buying from them because of his attitude.
     
  25. Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    Sylvilagus Aquaticus Member

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    On one of the smaller circuits I used to go to I got to know a lot of the vendors not only as a customer but as a friend. Most were nice guys overall. They got to know me and what I liked, and they'd let me in on stuff like ...

    'Hey, Ed Earl over 3 rows down has an old HiPower with those funny stamp marks like you are always after and if you tell him I sent ya, he'd take X for it' kinda deals.

    Be nice to the folks who wander by. Engage them with a grin, get them talking...find out what's on their mind, what they've got, what they are looking for, what they want to trade. You don't need to be the Answer Man, but it doesn't hurt to give out good info and be nice while doing it, not that you're not a nice guy anyway, as we all know.

    Oh, and if I see more than 3 non-gun related Beanie Babies on your table I won't offer to go get you lunch :D . Oddly enough, one of the most popular guys here at the Big Town show sells tons of repro cowboy duds and stuff. The guys who sell 'custom' knives don't seem to sell as much as the guys who load down their tables with the cheap import knives and blowguns, which doesn't make much sense to me, but the kids always want to 'git sum'pin' and Dad always loses that battle.

    One guy I knew from Shreveport supplemented his income by selling mid-grade and high-end airguns, at a better than fair price. He was a real character and always had a crowd who had their money out.

    Good luck. Let me know when you're making the loop through here and I'll buy your lunch...if you don't have any Beanie Babies.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.
     
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