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You Guys are Scaring Me!!!

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by FPrice, Sep 15, 2003.

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  1. FPrice

    FPrice Member

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    The proliferation of threads concerning gun store prices and rude customers has me more than a bit concerned. Let me explain.

    I am facing a forced retirement next year at age 55. While I am trying for an extension, I am also planning in case that does not happen.

    My local FFL made me a job offer a few weeks back. He wants me to get my NRA Instructor rating (something I had planned on anyways) to help teach classes at his store and he has asked me about working part time in his store. He is basically a one-man shop and he has health problems. We would split the take on the classes plus I would draw a salary for the part-time work. So far, so good.

    He is one of the few stores that seems to be growing while others in this area are all having a tough time. He has a small, but steady clientel plus he gets a fair share of walk-ins and such. I know most of the regulars and their good points/bad points.

    His prices are a bit high, but then so is his quality and in any case, the entire state has high prices it seems. It would be nice if he could cut prices in half but neither the electric company nor the insurance company nor the distributors nor the individual gun sellers want to cut THEIR prices.

    He is doing well enough to think about expanding and bringing in new products lines and new services, such as guest instructors for shooting clinics and other weapons (knife and sprays in particular).

    Like many in his field he has very strong opinions but he backs most of it up with experience, particular in working with large gun-makers. And while his opinions are strong he is open to the needs of his clientel and can work with a new shooter to find something that is good for the shooter, not just good for his bottom line.

    This is a good opportunity since it will get me into the field with very little expenditure on my part plus it allows me to slow down from my current hectic work pace. But it seems like this field can be very contentious and the customer base can range from very nice to horrible!

    I am curious what readers here think. If you were in my position, would you work at a gun store like this?
     
  2. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    "If you were in my position, would you work at a gun store like this?"

    In a heartbeat.
     
  3. Stealthfixr

    Stealthfixr Member

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    Sounds like it could be a lot of fun--why not work there?!
     
  4. Triad

    Triad Member

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    What Mike said.
     
  5. Deepdiver

    Deepdiver Member

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    You bet!

    I patronize my local shop even tho the prices are a little higher than some of the discount stores.

    I am willing to pay a little more for personal attention, and the extra expertise offered by the owner.

    It's nice to stop by at lunch time, have a cup of coffee, and talk about the new treasures that have showed up (sometimes I even find one that I gotta have, and buy it:D ).
     
  6. Oracle

    Oracle Member

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    I'd buy at a gun store like that, too. Price is an issue, but value is the greatest issue. I'm not going to pay a premium for a firearm at a gunstore where all I get is snide looks and gunshop commando stories, but I would at a store where the owner is offering and promoting training classes, and might be willing to throw one in with the price of a new firearm/high dollar knife/etc. It's all about value, not about price.
     
  7. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Member

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    In a heartbeat. It sounds like the guy's committed to giving his customers good service to justify the prices he has to charge to keep the bills paid.

    Customers come in and spend money because they see value. There will always be some who hang around and gather knowledge, then buy their guns elsewhere. So what? It's retail; that's part of the game, like friction affecting a bullet going down a barrel. It doesn't keep things from working. This shop probably has a number of things that customers can't find elsewhere, at least not all in one place. "Only here in the shop" things include both specialized supplies AND intangibles like the owner's knowledge (and yours, if you go to work for him).

    What's the worst thing that could happen? You spend time with the guy, and with customers, around guns. You might find some folks that you'll really enjoy talking to. If it sounds like it might be interesting, you might as well find out by trying it. And while you're there (and I'm NOT being patronizing), just be yourself.

    {Edited to add: Mike, you posted while I was typing! I guess the answer to that Q was just right there, asking us to type it in}
     
  8. Keith

    Keith Member

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    Most of the trolling you see here about gun stores is from people who have no experience in business. They price a gun at some small shop and then see it $50 cheaper on the Internet, and then come on here to trash the small gun store for being "greedy".

    They can't seem to accept that insurance, property taxes, heat, electricity, mortgage payments and salaries should affect the price of the commodity being sold.

    Or conversely, they go to a large discount chain store like Wal-Mart and fail to find any knowledgeable staff, and then trash them... apparently unable to accept that for lower prices, you get less service.

    You just can't please some people.

    If you want to work in the gun store, you should go for it. Yeah, sometimes people will come in take up your time before departing in a huff when they find out the Glock in the counter is more than the one at Wal-Mart. But, what you'll find is that at good gun stores have a clientele who come in just because they like you and trust you. They'll send their friends, who'll send their friends.
    The best advice I can give you is to take time with each and every customer. Even if they are just buying a box of .22 or want to spend a half hour handling a dozen guns without buying. Spend some time chatting with them and get to know what they like and dislike - be interested in your customers. Sooner or later, they'll come back and surprise you by plunking down the money for a large purchase.

    The only thing you have that the discounters don't, is your time, knowledge and interest. If you give your customers those things, they'll spend their money at your store.

    Keith
     
  9. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Remember: a bad day at the gun store beats a good day flipping burgers.

    In neither career field are you likely to get rich, but one is a lot more enjoyable. ;)
     
  10. BigG

    BigG Member

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    I think if you are delivering what the market wants, you will prosper. I back that up with about 35 years of being a consumer. I buy pretty high end firearms and don't quibble about $20 (or $100) here and there if it's what I want. I also am a loyal customer and sometimes they cut me a good deal, although I do not demand it or expect it because of my undeniable good looks. :eek:

    What I assume is going on (other than some immature bitching by some who may not understand the marketplace) is the guys who are not willing to meet the customer half way are going to go onto some tough times. The marketplace is changing and there are shooters today who never had to put up with no information source other than ye olde neighborhood gunshoppe, which bred arrogance in a certain type of individual. Now, info is out there on the Internet and word gets around. Give a fair deal and prosper - be a horse's patoot and the bad word will get around faster than ever.

    I don't think Wal-Mart is serious competition for a gun store that knows its market and caters to it. Salesmanship instead of stuck up pomposity will get buyers for these stores. :)
     
  11. TarpleyG

    TarpleyG Member

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    THIS IS KEY!!! Pay attention to what I am about to write...

    When I, as a customer of your store, come in the door, acknowledge me. Even if you are working with someone else. I do not expect you to stop helping that person any more than I would expect you to stop helping me if I were at the counter and someone else walked in. Just say "Hi. Be right with you." or something, anything.

    Don't just stand behind the counter and act like I don't exist and make me come to you to get information or pay for something. This especially applies if you are not busy.

    I am commenting here because in almost every gun shop I have ever been in, this is how I get treated. I am not a sloppy person. I am clean shaven and have a haircut every three weeks so my appearance does not indicate I am a low-life there to just browse and not spend any money.

    I would gladly pay top-dollar to a store where they treat me like I just walked into Nordstrom. So far, I have not found a store like that but all the ones I do go to are still charging top-dollar for their product.

    THEN, they have the nerve to get pissed because you start buying stuff online. At least I can checkout when I want to online and the stuff gets to me faster than having to wait for the lazy a$$ behind the counter to ring me up.

    Get my drift? You have a wonderful opportunity here to make a difference, albeit a small difference in the big scheme of things. I hope I have the same opportunity in the future. Good luck to you.

    GT
     
  12. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Tarpley said some wisdom. :)
     
  13. TechBrute

    TechBrute Member

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    Yeah, what everyone said...

    Basically, if you have higher prices, you had better provide something for them (better service, better looking women in the store, etc.) It's the shops that have high prices and poor everything else that I avoid like the plague.

    And yes, some customer are weenies, but they go to car dealerships wanting half off, etc, too, not just gun shops.
     
  14. fish2xs

    fish2xs Member

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    I have done alot of work studying buying habits. My job is to sell mid to high end computer, software and infrastructure solutions to multiple markets (manufacturing, high tech, retail...). Most people do not buy items (commodity or non-commodity) based solely on price. Even at Walmart - most people would not go there if their selection stunk, or if the hired help was consistently rude, for example.

    Comrade FPrice, I too am from PRMA and I buy from 4 Seasons in Woburn. Their prices are usually pretty good, but I really don't know since I rarely go anyplace else. Their selection (although neutered by bogus MA gun laws) is good, their service is good, and they treat me well. It is there that I vote with my $$$.

    Whenever you get into retail, you will always find customers whose level is half a bubble off or more. However, this can be said about many business segments. If it is what you want to do, then do it! The owner sounds like a decent guy. That would matter more to me than the day-to-day misery you will encounter. I could also see it being very rewarding as you are helping people in MA who more than likely are just starting to open their eyes to the reality which Fat-Boy T Kennedy has blinded them to regarding guns.
     
  15. tomkatz

    tomkatz Member

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    Tarpley makes alot of sense in his post, the shop I go to the most always aknowledges you when you walk in, if you are a regular they say your name and how's it going etc, and this place is BUSY.
    Other shops I have been in around here you get a big ol attitude and it is a real turn off. A lady I work with is relatively new to firearms and this attitude was keeping her out of the gunstores. I took her to my favorite place, introduced her, they spent about a half hour just letting her hold various guns and telling her about them, she came back on payday and bought a gun, now she is a regular.
    It is no wonder this is the busiest and most successful store in the area......tom
     
  16. Brian Dale

    Brian Dale Member

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    I've lived in gun-friendly and gun-hostile places...

    It seems that one facet of the opportunity you're considering might be more common in Massachusetts than it is in some other states, if Mass has a less gun-friendly culture. New shooters, and especially not-yet-shooters, will make up a noticeable portion of the people who walk through your door. Some people didn't grow up with guns, have been afraid of guns, or have never thought about them, yet something has prompted them to come into the store. You're their gatekeeper: their experience with you can be welcoming or offputting as they mull over the possibility of becoming first-time shooters and gun owners themselves.

    Some will have been the victims of crimes. Others might always have wondered about what shooting and shooters were like. Some will have decided, after years of non-interest, to find out what all of the fuss is about. For a lot of folks, the reason they're cautious is that a couple of hundred bucks for a used gun is a major capital expenditure. For all of us, being armed is an awesome responsibility, and most of us have had years, even our whole lives, to get used to the idea. The whole thing's new to some folks. Actually picking up the things that we enjoy so much can be startling to those who are unfamiliar with them ("wow, it's HEAVY...", or "Good grief! How are you supposed to hold this thing?").

    About the jerks you'll see: most of 'em were jerks before they came in through the door. A few of those are just having a crummy day, and in business, it often pays (in dollars) to be the bright spot in somebody's day.

    None of this is new information to you. In retail, you have to make a profit, month after month, forever, or you have to close the doors. In most of retail, "Be-backs" (as in, "yeah, I'll be back in a bit; I just have to..." ---just an excuse to leave politely) and endless lookers-but-not-buyers are regarded as nuisances to be ignored. You'll meet people for whom the decision to own a gun is philosophically harder than the decision to buy a house. My point is this: gun shops (and book stores, IMHO) are different from most types of retail operations. What gun shops and book stores share is that each is an entryway into an entire world. People on this board seem to like it in this world; you can show newbies and "should-I-be's" that it's a warm, safe place rather than a cold, scary one.

    So if you take the job, then when you have time (and especially when you teach) , and not neglecting other customers, then as TarpleyG said, "you have a wonderful opportunity here to make a difference." Small differences add up.
     
  17. DorGunR

    DorGunR Member

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    TarpleyG posted When I, as a customer of your store, come in the door, acknowledge me. Even if you are working with someone else. I do not expect you to stop helping that person any more than I would expect you to stop helping me if I were at the counter and someone else walked in. Just say "Hi. Be right with you." or something, anything.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    TarpleyG is right.......the gun store that I go to is like that, when I enter I'm always greated with " Hello Mr. XXXXX, I'll be right with you". And if you want to BS and they are not buisy....then the BS session is on.
    This shop is in Glen Burnie, MD.......if any of you wish to know the name of this place, just PM me.:)
     
  18. BogBabe

    BogBabe Member

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    It sounds like the store you might be working at is exactly the kind of store we all wish there were more of.

    I say, go for it!
     
  19. Bruce H

    Bruce H Member

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    The three best words heard in a gun store are "I don't know". Very seldom hear them. At out local store the owner is very knowledgeable but like everything else trying to keep teact of everything is hard. Most everybody that is a regular there has a different interest in firearms. We always manage to muddle through and find an answer that satisfies everybody.
     
  20. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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    FPrice, it sounds like that shop will be around for awhile. A shop like this is a good place to hang out, and to support.
     
  21. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Sure. It doesn't sound like an opportunity to get rich quick, but money buys guns, not happiness. I believe people in the firearms industry are doing their communities and the nation a service.
     
  22. Blain

    Blain member

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    I happen to live in MA, which store would this happen to be?
     
  23. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    A retirement job where I can talk to peepul like me and have a lot of fun? The fellow wouldn't have to ask me twice. :D

    To paraphrase the words of Elmer Fudd: Be very careful. You may spend more than you earn.:(
     
  24. campergeek

    campergeek Member

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    Jumping on the dogpile here...

    Price is only part of the equation, and it can often be a minor part.

    It sounds like your friend focuses on quality, service, and a genuine effort to develop a relationship with his customers. His formula is obviously working, as he's growing. I'd jump in with both feet if this is what you want to do.

    People will go a long way for a good dealer. I have one close to me that I won't set foot in again, for a very basic reason. I called him one day to ask about his charge for a transfer (I was looking at a used shotgun on gunbroker). His price was $35 compared to some around who charge $15, but he's so close that I was willing to pay the extra. However, while on the phone he launched into a tirade that he would ONLY accept transfers for firearms that he did not himself carry or was unable to order. He continued to explain that he couldn't afford to pay the electric bill & rent if people just used him for transfers. Never mind that if I picked up the shotgun from him I would also be needing a case, ammo, choke, etc. That money, plus any money I would have spent coming back to a dealer who gladly helped me, went elsewhere.

    In contrast, I found a smaller shop about 20 miles from my home where a store employee held the door for me (not important, but a nice gesture), I was given friendly greetings by at least two other salespeople, and the owner spent a long time shooting the bull with me while he showed me some handguns. At the time I visited this place I wasn't in the market for a gun by mail so I didn't ask their policy, but I know they do a lot of transfers both incoming and outgoing. In short, although I didn't spend money that day I'll gladly make the drive back to that place every time I'm in the market, long before I drive around the corner to the first shop mentioned.

    In short (too late, right?), don't be put off by the complaints here about small stores. Note that those complaints have more to do with the attitude & knowledge of the staff than the size of the store, and under the surface they probably even have little to do with price (except in extreme cases). Those who do it right will do well. It sounds like your friend does it right.
     
  25. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

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    Great input in the previous posts.

    If it were my decision...
    In a heartbeat. (Sorry Mike):)

    Sam
     
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