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Why brick and morter are dying

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by ford8nr, Sep 10, 2015.

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  1. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    I think there can still be a niche for the "LGS" but I think they're having to really step up their game, so to speak, in order to thrive.

    This being "Gun Utopia" (central Pennsylvania) there are plenty of little gun shops around, but a very great many of them still operate as though it's 1972 and that all of their customers will prefer a tiny basement hole-in-the-wall or nondescript storefront in a strip mall in a long-disfavored part of town. I don't even understand how they afford their taxes, let alone the light bill.

    On the other hand, a few stores around here are REALLY putting on their "A" game. Probably the best of the lot is Trop's. https://www.tropgun.com/info/trop-gun-shop-retail-information

    This is a place that tries to provide something for everyone, but understands that their focus has got to be on the hot new exciting interests to keep people coming through the door. They stock silencers and other NFA weapons. They have racks of guns of all description and a large staff who they obviously groom to be appealing and open and helpful to the customers. (No grumps or boorish know-it-alls.) On very busy days, they even have a nice young lady floor-walker who greets you as you come in, helps you find what you're looking for, and if you're headed to the gun counter, logs your name into a hand-held wireless device to make sure you are seen and served in a timely manner. While you wait, there is a quite sizeable accessories selection to browse through, all stuff that's straight out of the latest issues of G&A or National Rifleman. Current, interesting gear that people want to pick up and play with.

    They run AR building classes, where you can come in, buy a lower, buy all of the accessories, and put it together in their workshop, with their help.

    They run training of all sorts, and have nice classroom spaces.

    They've got an upstairs lounge and cigar bar!

    They've got their own M35 truck with the store's logo painted on it, and they bring it and their smiley young staff out to every gun show, sportsman's show and similar large event with a big pile of merchandise for folks to handle and buy.

    Their indoor range is state-of-the-art, with plenty of rentals, and both male and female range staff to help out the new and experienced shooter alike.

    They run shooting classes, basic firearms instruction, and leagues like "A Girl And A Gun."

    They even have VERY nice bathrooms! :) (No, seriously. Like a nice restaurant would have.)

    The amount of money required to get something like this off the ground must be staggering. But they're doing a booming business. And you don't get the financial backing for something like this without a rock solid business plan, so I don't expect them to fail.


    While we lament the loss of the LGS, everything evolves. The day of the little mom&pop gun shop really being a viable business and career may have simply passed for the most part. That's kind of sad, but the day of the local malt shop and your doctor making house calls passed, too, and society lived through it.

    But a "destination" gun store -- a real "shooters' paradise" -- may really fly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  2. ford8nr

    ford8nr Member

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    Can't tell you how many times I've called stores regarding stock and they've said I'll check. Yup we've got them, only to drive there and they don't. One time I called on a specific model rifle, yup we've got it xx$$. Drove there and they said we set it aside for you ... Wrong gun.
     
  3. il.bill

    il.bill Member

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    ^ This.

    One could add ubiquitous service stations to the list of businesses whose day has passed. Things change. When you add in the enormous effect of the internet on modern retailing, the disappearance of large numbers of businesses such as local gun shops and book stores is pretty predictable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    2 hours, a bunch of gas and some money.
     
  5. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    It's not about the brick and mortar stores shopping for accessories, and never has been.

    Dial the way back machine about 30 years - before many of the posters in this thread were of legal age to buy firearms - and you discover mail order catalogs.

    They were the hostile "internet" of their day. Those darn catalog warehouses were sniping sales from brick and mortar all the time. One warehouse, no retail storefront, just busy workers processing orders.

    The knowledgeable who shop for a specific accessory know they can input the data, make a decision, then go to a source they trust. Cabelas, Bass Pro, Gander, and dozens of others were in those days and did a huge business.

    All they have done since is to put the catalog on web pages. They still publish paper but not even a quarter of the volume they used to.

    Built an AR lately? The best brick and mortar supplier locally is Academy, stocking Magpul and MFT. BUT - not any of the stuff I want. I order from the internet. I have yet to see any local brick and mortar stores with a A2 flash hider on the shelf, much less a Levang, STD, or Black River Tactical.

    LGS brick and mortar never had it all and never will. They make their sales on the mass market stuff that always looks like what the other guy bought on impulse because he won't research it and can't wait.

    There's too much stuff on the market and always has been. Brick and mortar carry one or two Brands with the top spot competing model items and that's it. They can't and won't ever carry it all.

    You have to go to a national level warehouse to get that - and they've been in operation for decades, long before the internet.
     
  6. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    Extension rings are a somewhat odd piece of kit. Most big box shops won't have 'em in the first place.
    The little mom & pop gun shop never could compete with the likes of Wally World and Cabela's. The big places buy by the truck load at least and get better wholesale prices and terms. The mom & pop shops are lucky if they get terms.
    Mail order catalogs were just as bad. Some of those retailers were known for putting stuff in them that didn't exist or they couldn't get. One of the small chains up here had the Ruger USGI in their catalogue for 2 years after Ruger announced they were not going to make 'em.
    "...the catalog on web pages..." Costs a great deal less to create and maintain a web site than it did a paper catalogue.
     
  7. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Member

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    I am afraid the Internet is changing business models in a number of industries. Shoes. You'd think people would want to try on shoes right? Well plenty still do. But way more people are willing to give it a try and if they don't fit, send 'em back. Try and find a pair of XTRATUF boots in a store in the Midwest. Never happen. Never seen a pair. How about a Mora knife? Saw my first one on a shelf this year.

    Pertaining to this thread, I find a lot of stuff just as easy to buy from LGS or big box. Pmags? Got all sorts at several places. Ammo? It's here. Holsters? Well the basic stuff is plentiful. Cleaning products? Only thing I have never seen on a shelf is Balistol. There's a Cabela's near me now so they may have that.

    For my spending habits, knives have been way more impacted by the Internet than my firearms expenditures.
     
  8. ford8nr

    ford8nr Member

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    Unfortunately Cabelas and Gander 'Gun World' didn't have them either.
    Went looking for a can of sight black earlier this year. Neither one even heard of it before.
     
  9. ford8nr

    ford8nr Member

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    While extension rings aren't main stream, if you're limited on bases and want proper eye relief that are. Any online gun store has many styles and brands 'in stock'.
     
  10. jlr1962

    jlr1962 Member

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    Store fronts are hard to maintain in this day and age. Many industries and tradesmen are suffering. Customers are suffering. Now in any industry, there are trunk slammers with "decades of experience" ready to perform any type of work you can imagine. Hey, they have a nice website, they must know what they are doing.... Only goes so far. Selling boxes is one thing, performing any kind of service is another. My favorite is the so called experts wanting you to pay big money up front for training, and then saying they will meet you at the range of your choice. Yea Right!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  11. Jenrick

    Jenrick Member

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    We have two LGS that have been here over 30 years that I know of. One is a large retail store, McBrides, that has a large selection of everything and in general is about the size of an old school department store (your local ones, not the mega one's like Sears or Wards). The other is quite a bit smaller, Tex Guns, and they certainly don't have 84 variations on a Remington 700 that McBrides has in stock. On the other hand, with over 30 years in the business, they can get ahold of ANYTHING and usually have it in the shop before Amazon can mail it you. So long as it's not class 3 (and to be honest, they may do that I've just never asked), they can probably find it.

    Neither of the shops goes for the gun-bubbas behind the counters spouting political opinions, and they usually will just noncommittally respond to a customer who wants to talk politics. In general both present a polished retail experience and can help lead a customer to the right product if they don't already know. This I think is the key to longevity as an LGS. A website no matter how hard it tries can't help the customer make an informed decision anywhere near as well as a good knowledgable sales person.

    -Jenrick
     
  12. atomd

    atomd Member

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    Brick and mortar stores are going away in general anyways. The LGS scene is changing big time these days and a lot of places are going to miss the boat and go out of business. Most of them have it coming though. The places that stay successful deserve it because it's a tough business. Someone mentioned Top Guns earlier in the thread. I don't live in PA and I have never been to that shop but I know the name of it because of their marketing and youtube presence. I just went to their website for the first time just to see where they were.
     
  13. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    My LGS does very well. But they also have a range, sell archery and fishing gear.

    Customers might talk about politics, but staff are pretty guarded on that stuff.
    If some political event/news has influenced supply/demand and somebody asks, they will casually mention it. That is all.

    The lively discussion is almost always between customers.

    Customer service there is well above and beyond the norm. Always been that way. Probably why they are a busy place.
     
  14. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Woooo ahhh....I sure don't know that I can possibly buy into that.

    I'll take a website site with direct comparison capability and customer reviews WAAAY over one dude's say-so, no matter how much of a grand old experienced hand he may be. I think I just know too many people, to ever trust what any one of them tells me as a) true, b) unbiased, c) exhaustive, or d) applicable to me and my actual needs.
     
  15. drband

    drband Member

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    My favorite LGS is a family run shop (retired military). Dad-mom-son all are usually on duty. They have a nice selection, will order anything, have a good web-site, and their CS is great. They also are glad to handle transfers. I'm spoiled! The other two shops in town are good, just not that good. One has a decent selection of reloading supplies that keeps me coming in. The other has just expanded (tripled gun counter space) so I sense a price war on the horizon![emoji41].
    It's a good situation.
     
  16. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    All the local gun shops are run by snoots and old, white men who think they know better.

    I gladly take my business elsewhere, to the internet mostly.
     
  17. Praxidike

    Praxidike Member

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    Yea most LGS in my area are ran by a bunch of pompous, holier than thou, know it all's. Plus they are way over priced even before taxes vs buying online. Online I can buy EVERYTHING at one time on one site in the comfort of my home shipped to my door step.
     
  18. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    I must live in heaven. Not only do we have the old gun stores, but we have new gun stores and a new modern indoor range that's so successful they opened a branch in Virginia Beach. Bass Pro is still open and Cabela's will be open soon, but Gander left town. An old line store hunting and fishing store, Green Top, took over the Gander building. You can see Bass Pro and Green Top from I-95 if you're passing through.

    525f3b8778d1c.image.jpg

    50f5d7373521b.image.jpg
     
  19. Praxidike

    Praxidike Member

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    If you're talking about Colonial Shooting Academy, I'd go there for the range, classes, IDPA, ect, but just like the OP pointed out, I'd never go there to buy accessories or a firearm. Their pricing is a lot higher and their selection is lacking big time compared to online stores. I'd have to think that most LGS in the area make most if there profits from severices rather than sales of firearms and accessories.

    When it comes to big box stores, they make a large amount of money via online sales as well despite having a brick and mortar store. You can buy online, have it shipped to the store for free or have your items held at the store for pick up. They also have warehouses and buy in bulk. Most regular mom and pop LGS that are going under don't offer the same modern conveniences that online and big box stores offer nor can they compete with pricing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2015
  20. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    They're staying in business and expanding somehow.

    Hopkins opened a new store in Mechanicsville.

    I buy a lot of stuff off the internet and have for years. Heck, Cabelas sends me hardbound catalogs. I bought my P210 sight unseen because of Top Gun Supply's rep and the fun we were having on the thread on the Sig forum.

    John
     
  21. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Just remember, guys, you can't really buy a gun off the internet in your own person.
    You must have a FFL to take delivery and register it to you, and he isn't going to stay in business long if all you want him to do is the paperwork on the mailorder $40 AR lower for which you bought a truckload of way kewl tackytickle Legogun parts from a stranger in Kalamazoo.

    Not to mention the support he feels when you complain about the $25 "transfer fee" on such a small order just because it is burdened by a serial number.
     
  22. TomJ
    • Contributing Member

    TomJ Contributing Member

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    The LGS' by us that are doing well either have a range or have their own websites, allowing them to compete with Bud's, etc. The combination of buying guns at prices comparable to any of the big name web sites plus being able to walk into their store is attractive, and probably necessary if they want to stay in business.
     
  23. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    I understand that we need our local guys to do the FFL transfer, but when there is something he flat out does not have that I want, it's not fair that I am hit with a $25-50 transfer fee and the shipping.

    Generally, I will buy from the local guys if they are nice when we interact, but if they are hiking their price to sadist levels I can't support them especially when I see them selling used for only $40 less than the price they are selling a new gun.
     
  24. Aragon

    Aragon member

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    "Stock" isn't "depreciated." It can be discounted of course, but not "depreciated."
     
  25. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator Emeritus

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    Unfair? What is unfair about it? Here's a service you want performed. Here's the price he wants to be paid to perform it. You make the deal or you don't. Your choice. That's about as fair as it could possibly be.

    Don't like the price? Find someone somewhere who will do it cheaper. Or go without.
     
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