Gun store...a retirement thought

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Thread: Gun store...a retirement thought

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    Member Array sandman1212's Avatar
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    Gun store...a retirement thought

    The last couple of months I have been thinking about my retirement and what I want to do. I will retire in about 7 years and wont be ready to throw it in quite then.
    I have thought about opening a gun store, or Range...or both combined. I was at a gun store/range while in Washington state awhile back and thought it was a fantastic idea, rent a firearm before purchasing the model.

    One whole side of the city I live in has no Ranges to speak of, but plenty of gun stores. and I have thought it would be great to "try before you buy" for those that have never fired the model they are looking at.

    I would also do some classes at night for CC or HD ETC. maybe a discounted price for those that buy a pistol from me...maybe free.

    Any thoughts on anything else that would be good, or that you have said "I would like to see that in a gun shop"
    KAHR CW45, RIA 1911 Officer, S&W Sigma 9MM, Savage 1907 .32cal(BUG)

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    The thing that got me up to our local range was "ladies' night" and "date night."

    On ladies' night, women got to shoot for just one dollar. On date night if you brought a date, or even a friend, one person paid while the other was free or you just split the cost of the range time if you wanted to go dutch.

    Every Tuesday I would go up for Ladies' Night and I loved it.

    Rentals are good but one thing I can't stand about most indoor ranges is poor lighting. I've been to SO many ranges that look like you are entering a cave when you go in. You NEED night sights just to shoot. Not that low-light isn't good for certain training situations and I think that lighting should be able to be controlled but for standard shooting things should be bright/well lit.

    On that same token, We were able to split the range in half and have training on one side and regular shooting on the other side. We could turn off the lights on one side of the range for complete black out/flashlight shoots while the other half remained well lit for other patrons. We also had a police light bar that we would often get going in the dark range and do shoots by police light bar which was AWESOME!

    Of course we were select about who could do these shoots and there were sign in sheets and pre-shoots you had to pass, etc, and local police would also come and do trainings and quals at the range.

    HAVE A CLASSROOM!! I can't emphasize that enough. A lot of places do classes but they have no real area to do the "classroom" portion and it ends up being in the range and trying to give classroom instruction with hearing protection on while others are shooting is hard unless you shut the entire range down for classes but then you lose business from patrons who just want to come there and shoot.

    I don't necessarily think that you need a "women's section" but it would be nice to see at least a small corner of a shop dedicated to women. Not that it has to be pink and purple but just a couple of posters of female shooters, maybe some holsters that women have liked, maybe a few guns that women tend to pick over other guns, maybe a few pairs of pants, concealment vests and the like. Perhaps a CCW purse or two. If you are catering to law enforcement and military maybe some female sized duty belts and other accessories that even though they may not be gender specific would work well for a smaller woman... just a little "FOR WOMEN" section.

    I'd be happy with that.

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    Member Array sandman1212's Avatar
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    Lima,
    Thanks for the Thoughts! The "woman section" is a Great idea, definitely a plus ! Some of my thoughts are leaning on the education portion of firearms, I agree that a classroom is a must!
    The specialty shoot nights are great as well (ladies, date)!
    KAHR CW45, RIA 1911 Officer, S&W Sigma 9MM, Savage 1907 .32cal(BUG)

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    I say "go for it". If its something you are looking at to augment retirement or just give you something to do,now is the time to start.

    I stated a gunsmith/manufacturing business that officially started on August 1st of this year. That is just a little over one week ago. I have already made more than what it cost me in the FFL, tax permits and all of the other crap that is required to start a business. The beauty of it is that you don't have to make a living at it as long as you aren't retired. Do it as you can, build a customer base, get the word out, and people will come looking for you. When times are slow, it wont kill you, so your business can live past the time that most business's fail.

    I think the biggest appeal to a gun-shop is the ability to wheel and deal and the support. If you cone down just a few buck on a posted price, it goes a long way to keeping people coming in. Have enough cash to buy any gun that comes in the door and if you make a great deal, pass the saving on to your customers. A lot of gun-shops carry guns and not much else. Have lots of ammo, lots of holsters of every kind, and anything related to shooting. Eventually you may add fishing supplies to make up the slack in seasonal lulls on guns.

    Apply for your FFL now. I have been thoroughly amazed at the difference in dealer prices. As an example of just one, yesterday I ordered a .223 reamer and a head-space gage. Normal cost with shipping would have been 130 bucks. It cost me 91. Thats a 39$ saving just for having the FFL. It's not a whole lot, but every little bit helps.

    If you can, be able to have some gun smithing available. We have lots of shops here and no gunsmith except for me. Sure anyone can mount a scope or change a pistol gip. Not anyone can re chamber a rifle, rebbarel it, change out trigger groups, drill and tap for scope mounts and the gazillion things that are in the realm of the gunsmith.

    As for the range...its a good idea. Ranges are expensive to operate but can show a great return. They too can pick up slack when seasonal times make everything slow. Have permit classes and people will buy your guns and ammo. Form a club and have competition shoots and invite guests to shoot. There are lots of ways that you can move traffic through the gun range. Have a "display" pistol that an interested person can shoot to see how they like it. Run advertisements that give say, 30 minutes to an hour of free range time with the purchase of gun and ammo. Be creative. Dont be afraid to try new things. Use your imagination.

    As for the women, its a good idea. Every womans class that I ever had was full with more wanting to get in. Have door prizes, give them little trinkets. Have lots of handbags and purses that are specifically made for toting. Show the different ways to do it using a woman instructor if at all possible. Dont bog them down with too much technical info that they get bored and fall asleep, keep it lively and keep the discussion moving. Cater to the woman and the money will come with them. Trust me. All of the gunshops around here LOVE it when I have a womans only class. They all donate stuff to it. One of the bigger ones donates a gun for a final prize. Get all the guns shops in on it because they will all benefit.

    There are lots of things you can do. Make it a labor of love, something that you like to do, and it wont be anything like work.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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    One place I took classes in the classroom had a MOCK (not for live fire) range so the the students could do the basic range stuff there and know it was a "safe place".

    I agree with limatunes on the lighting. I hate shooting in bad lighting. But I love the idea of being able to shoot with a flashlight and other dark training. I also agree the ladies night and date night are a great idea. I have talked to a few ladies young and old that hate having guys all over then when they just want to shoot and have fun. and the ladies corner is a plus I have taken my wife to the two "local" stores trying to show her that this is not just a guys sport and cant find anything like a CC purse. (Thank you Lima for your youtube posts they are great and have help my wife more then a few times.)
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    VIP Member Array NC Bullseye's Avatar
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    Just don't forget that you will have a significant number of your customers that are a few points shy of comatose. The ones that whip out their loaded gun to try on holsters for quick draw and wonder why you have eyes the size of trashcan lids or the ones that are clueless as to safe gun handling even when "just looking". Add the range to that and with that same crowd, you may shorten your life by a few years due to stress.

    One of the best features of a gun store/range is when you can try before you buy so rentals are a great addition to that shop and range combo.

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    Senior Member Array stanislaskasava's Avatar
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    What's really missing, in the city that you live in, is an indoor range that one can shoot rifle calibers in. It would be nice to have a lane or two that are ~100 yards long and with a proper backstop to contain at least .223 so that people can shoot their AR15s without trekking to the mountains. It would be so much easier (and safer) to sight-in, in a controlled environment such as this...

    If you have been to JCGC, or TPTS, or PRPC, or CPSTC (all in the metro area), you'll have confirmed what Lima said about the poor lighting which is apparently typical at indoor ranges across the country. I suspect that LED lighting will be very much more popular in 7 years than it is now, and it might end up being the best choice for an indoor range, especially if you could deliver the LED light to the target via fiber optic cable, to keep the LED 'bulbs' out of harms way. This might be cheaper too, as you really only need to light the shooting benches and the target carriers, instead of installing light bulbs all the way down the lane.

    I want to see a range with target carriers that don't swing like a pendulum for a minute or two after they are run out into the lane. I want a range with proper heating and air conditioning. There's nothing worse than wiping your nose on your sleeve because the range is unheated. A good washroom with suitable gritty soap for removing residue is a must. Adequate ventilation on the range is a nice touch.

    I really hate it when a range requires that you purchase their 'special' ammo and they jack up the price. Either sell it for what I can buy it for anywhere else, or let me bring my own. Preferably, let me bring my own so I can test/shoot whatever I plan on carrying, or shoot reloads if I'm a cheapskate. One local range lost my membership when they started requiring ammo to be purchased on site. If they would have simply increased the yearly membership fee (or let full members bring their own ammo), I would have stayed.

    Try before you buy is a great idea. I believe Northwest Armory will let you return a used gun for full credit for a ~2 week period. It would be nice if you could figure out a way to let people try new guns for a fee. It might be easier to do with firearms that have a lifetime warranty, regardless of whether you're the original purchaser. Or you could charge just enough to try a new gun, that you could still make a profit if you had to sell it as a used gun, in the event that the customer didn't want to buy it. This could really put you ahead of all the competition, if you figure out a way to do it.

    It would also be nice if you stocked IWB holsters for your most popular carry guns. It's great if you can try a holster before you buy it.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array Rob P.'s Avatar
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    One thing you will HAVE to be on your toes about is having a RSO on duty at all times if you are going to "try before you buy" with rentals. Several ranges have had problems with suicides with the rental guns and one of my local ranges shut down over it.

    Liability insurance is MANDATORY in large/mass quantities of coverage.

  10. #9
    Member Array sandman1212's Avatar
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    The range would definitely have an RSO on duty at all times.
    As far as the rental, I would have at least the most popular firearms ready for rental. The purchase of a gun in my shop would get a free trip to the range.
    As far as the Ammo for the range goes, you could shoot your own in your weapons, but you would either buy my ammo for my rentals or the price of the rental would include 1 box of ammo. Another price would be a flat rate for a group rental I.E $35.00 for the ability to shoot any weapon that I had for rent, you buy the Ammo for the different calibers ETC or if you prefer a certain caliber, $50 gets you a box of the caliber of your choice and the ability to switch between firearms of that caliber.

    Stan,
    You have some extensive knowledge of my regional area and the ranges available. I agree with your observation of the lighting and temperature shortcomings in those places. I am a member of the JCGC and have been to the others. lighting and heat are already a correction I would make.
    Funny that you mention NW Armory, I have volunteered my services with them for gun shows and part time, just for the institutional knowledge, and to have extra money to buy guns.
    They are my preferred gun store.
    KAHR CW45, RIA 1911 Officer, S&W Sigma 9MM, Savage 1907 .32cal(BUG)

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    Member Array stumpjumper's Avatar
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    For an indoor range ,invest in quality air control. One of the big issues around here is it's" too hot" in summer, "too cold" in the winter and always "too smoky".

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    VIP Member Array edr9x23super's Avatar
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    Hotguns - Have relations with the ATF improved any since the early 90s? I used to have an FFL back when I was shooting a lot of 3-gun matches, heck a bunch of us did back then, but after Clinton was elected everything changed; the ATF got a real attitude problem when I went to renew, and I just couldn't believe how the fee changed, so I just turned in my logbooks and sold the rest of my stuff and never looked back. I always enjoyed those days, though. I sold a whole bunch of SKSs and Norinco Ammo back then.....
    "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined". - Patrick Henry

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    Member Array ImaShepardRU's Avatar
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    I have had those thoughts too. The whole business plan in today's market conditions of low margins, high liability, and cost of doing business, reminds me of the old adage (slightly modified for this topic);

    "How do you make a million dollars in the gun business?..................



    ..........Start with 2 million!"
    This is the law;
    The purpose of fighting is to win.
    There is no possible victory in defense.
    The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either.
    The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental. - John Steinbeck

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    Distinguished Member Array BlueNinjaGo's Avatar
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    Well, I won't repeat the nice suggestions above. One thing I dislike about my local indoor range is the lack of distance markers. There's no way to tell how far your target is, which I dislike because I like to be able to track my progress. When i asked the guy working there about it, he said they haven't gotten to it. WHAT?! Give me a tape measure and some spray paint, and I'll handle it in 2 minutes for free. Anyways, sorry for the mini-rant.

    Another tip would be parts. I hate having to order online and pay shipping and handling fee's that are equal to the cost of the parts. I'm talking simple things, like magazine loaders, recoil buffers, spring sets, grip extensions, slip-on grips, etc etc.

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    Senior Member Array jhh3rd's Avatar
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    Hello. I worked part time in a range/store for 6 years and learned a lot. If I can be bold (please don't take it personally) it's about business. Please concentrate on making a profit so you can earn from your endeavor, grow to have more products and services, and most importantly do not let this "run" your life. There is an old joke that seems to circulate among gun shop/range businesses; "How do I end up with a million dollars by opening a gun store...start with two million." Do not offer too many price specials as a way to get customers. This leads to artificially low prices and when the time comes that you have to raise them to profitable levels, you will lose your current customer base and will essentially be starting from scratch. Remember, it's about business. Carry products and offer services to maximize your profit. Carry as much high end merchandise as possible. Selling a box of ammo once a month to joe blow is fine, but cultivating customers (who have the disposable income) over the course of a year...NOW THAT, is doing business. Respectfully, John

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    Have relations with the ATF improved any since the early 90s?

    I can only speak for myself on the ATF visit. Mine was very professional. The examiner was friendly and went out of her way to make sure that everything was good to go.
    I would rate my experience with her as A#1. I know that a lot of people are very apprehensive about the ATF in general, but most the examiners are just out there doing a job.

    Like anything else, the attitude that you give them is probably the attitude they give you.
    I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.


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