Are Our Markets Underserved?

This is a discussion on Are Our Markets Underserved? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Limatunes really got me thinking with her last thread. So, I did a little initial research. Now, obviously there are pawn shops and the like, ...

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Thread: Are Our Markets Underserved?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array agentmel's Avatar
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    Are Our Markets Underserved?

    Limatunes really got me thinking with her last thread. So, I did a little initial research. Now, obviously there are pawn shops and the like, but here's ALL I found for my 2 county area in the yellow pages:

    Population: 673,000
    # of Gun dealers: 1
    # of Ranges: 1

    So, here's the question:

    Is my 2 county area of almost 700,000 people underserved by the 2 gun stores/ranges? How do you go about figuring out if this would be a viable market to start a self/home defense store?


    It seems like with a little creative advertising, you could maybe start selling to people who don't currently think about guns. I may finally put my B-Degree to use and draw up a business plan. Hmm...

    Mel
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    Member Array packin45's Avatar
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    I had a long conversation about this with the owner of the gun shop where I purchased my Glock 17. The mom and pop gun shops and ranges are apparently a dying breed, and a lot of people don't seem to notice or care a whole lot.

    In Minneapolis, which has about 700,000 residents, there is only one gun shop left. The city absolutely hates it, and have been trying to get rid of it for the last 10 years of so. The last thing they tried was banning the transfer of firearm ownership within the city limits; you can pay for the firearm and fill out the paperwork at the store, but you have to take physical possession of it at either a gun range in a different city (he has an agreement with one), or at a gun show. It's a huge hassle for everyone involved, to say the least, and completely unnecessary....more handiwork of the liberal kooks here.
    G17, G26

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    Senior Member Array ridurall's Avatar
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    That is how the liberals are winning. The closest good gun shop in 90 miles from here. All we've got here are pawn shops with junk and Walmart with no handguns. The last dealer we had couldn't keep from running off customers that had purchased guns/ammo etc from Walmart. He would cuss them out and run them off. He didn't last long and the people that purchased his shop priced them selves out of the market and lasted an even shorter time. From my time working part time in a gun shop I learned that you have to listen to a lot of BS. Some people can't do that without blowing their stack and running the customers off.
    Life member NRA since 1983
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    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    The economics of small business are tough. I know 'cause I've been in it for around 20 years. Small retail is something I would be very cautious of. I've seen so many fail. Small retail involving firearms? Unless the local market and govt. are extremely favorable I'd run from it. I know of one outfit right now trying to build an indoor range and retail location. They figure they have a two year court fight with the local govt. just to get the building permit, they already have the property. My hats off to their determination but you can bet the local govt is going to be a non stop PITA for ever.

    Next problem for the small operator is everyone cruises the 'net and sees the prices that the huge operators are charging then expects you to charge the same. This is WalMart mentality and until you're on the back side of the counter you'll never believe how much it's harmed the small businessman. If you try and function on those prices you'll go under pretty quick. If you charge a reasonable margin you'll hear the never ending litany of how you're cheating them and what an SOB you are.

    Look at the hard realities of overhead including the facility, stock costs, insurance, utilities, etc. Consider the fact that you may not be able to pull a regular paycheck for the first three years or so. (this is a rule based on almost every single small business owner I've known) Do you have a personality that can deal with rude, demanding, whining people on a daily basis and keep smiling and polite? (Hey, some are! Me, I don't deal with the general public any more) Figure that your most pessimistic projections are actually wildly optimistic and if the numbers still look good, well, go for it. Just look long and hard at it first and remember that 90% of small business startups fail before 5 years. It's that tough.....
    If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

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    Senior Member Array agentmel's Avatar
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    I have a degree in business and run a small business from my home, so I'm fairly well aware of the risks of small business ownership. Obviously I'm not saying it would be easy, just wondering if the market exists. I would likely position my store as a personal security store. We'd sell a number of items like alarms, pepper spray, knives, firearms, books, holsters, clothing, nanny-cams, etc. We'd offer real world HTH, tactical shooting and CCW classes. We'd do it in a clean, carpeted, well lit, well located store and I'd staff it with polite, knowledgeable, well-groomed, polo-shirt wearing people who would answer questions with no BS. You know, basically everything my local range is not!

    I'm just trying to figure out if the market exists or not.

    Mel
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    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    Agentmel, not picking on you or your experience!

    I'm just making a few observations from the trenches of the small business battle front. I'm not sure what part of FL you're in. In my area the gun shows are full of guys trying to sell many of the items you are listing. There are also at least three shops within an easy drive for me doing much the same as you describe. If I seriously want some really high level training there is a facility withing 2 hours that has some of the top trainers in the country on a regular basis. There is also at least one location that has classes specialized just for women and they are well regarded.

    You are talking about putting a better cosmetic "polish" on it, true. Keep in mind that finding this type of employee is really tough in the current labor market. The kind of people you want as employees are very hard to find and retain these days, at least in my area. In my part of FL if you want training or personal security devices the pickings are pretty good. Your area may be different.

    I'd be feeling out the local city council on opening such an establishment. They may be supportive or they may put every legal and financial road block they can in your way. An informal meeting with a council member might tell you a lot about how city government will react. A conversation or two with a few well experienced street police officers about your ideas might bring in an interesting perspective as to whether or not there is a local need for such a business. I'd also talk with any local crime watch or neighborhood watch organizers.

    This would also be a cash intensive business to open. Are there financial institutions willing to work with such a business? Many are very sensitive about dealing with businesses involving firearms. A few meetings with some bank managers might be very educational. Also see if the SBA still has their mentor program up and running. It's a resource of very successful retired small businessmen in your area who will give you tons of help about stuff you never learned or dreamed of about small business before any commitments are made. They were one of the best resources I had when I started my first "big" small business ( 9 to 11 employees and a bank note that kept me awake many a night ).
    If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

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    Senior Member Array agentmel's Avatar
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    Cruisr, I didn't take you to be picking on me at all. No worries there. I'm assuming you're probably in Orlando, or near by, since no one else is usually willing to admit to to living in Central Florida! j/k I'm in SW FL in a pretty conservative county. I think our demographic is somewhat different. Obviously, I'd be one of the people working the store, and we wouldn't need that many.

    One of the most interesting business trends of late is people starting businesses from their homes to cut down on the capital risk. Are there laws that say you can't sell personal defense type items (like firearms) from your home as long as you are a licensed dealer?

    Mel
    The Ethics of Liberty
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    How long have we watered the Tree of Deceit with the blood of patriots?

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    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Liberals or Democrats aren't the only ones who are anti-gun or who have pressed to pass anti-gun legislation.

    A quick history lesson:POE.com » Column Archive 01.08.01

    Don’t Blame Liberals for Gun Control
    by Richard Poe
    FrontPageMagazine.com
    January 8, 2001

    ANTI-GUN CRUSADERS seem worried about the advent of a Republican administration. Heaven knows why. Republicans, in recent years, have managed to do nearly as much damage to the Second Amendment as Democrats.

    In 1969, journalist William Safire asked Richard Nixon what he thought about gun control. “Guns are an abomination,” Nixon replied. According to Safire, Nixon went on to confess that, “Free from fear of gun owners’ retaliation at the polls, he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles.”

    It was President George Bush, Sr. who banned the import of “assault weapons” in 1989, and promoted the view that Americans should only be allowed to own weapons suitable for “sporting purposes.”

    It was Governor Ronald Reagan of California who signed the Mulford Act in 1967, “prohibiting the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle, in any public place or on any public street.” The law was aimed at stopping the Black Panthers, but affected all gun owners.

    Twenty-four years later, Reagan was still pushing gun control. “I support the Brady Bill,” he said in a March 28, 1991 speech, “and I urge the Congress to enact it without further delay.”

    One of the most aggressive gun control advocates today is Republican mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York City, whose administration sued 26 gun manufacturers in June 2000, and whose police commissioner, Howard Safir, proposed a nationwide plan for gun licensing, complete with yearly “safety” inspections.

    Another Republican, New York State Governor George Pataki, on August 10, 2000, signed into law what The New York Times called “the nation’s strictest gun controls,” a radical program mandating trigger locks, background checks at gun shows and “ballistic fingerprinting” of guns sold in the state. It also raised the legal age to buy a handgun to 21 and banned “assault weapons,” the sale or possession of which would now be punishable by seven years in prison.

    Gun control crusaders argue that the Republicans are simply yielding to grassroots pressure, to gain political advantage. But polls show little evidence of such pressure.

    A Gallup/CNN/USA Today survey taken in June 1999 – only two months after the Littleton massacre – showed that the number of Americans who favored stricter gun laws had declined by 20 percent since 1990.

    Public support for gun control has dwindled even further since then. An Associated Press poll released on the one-year anniversary of the Littleton shootings shows that Americans favor strict enforcement of existing laws over new gun laws – the exact position of the National Rifle Association (NRA) – by 42 to 33 percent.

    That same month, a survey by the Pew Research Center showed that only 6 percent of Americans believed that tougher gun laws would prevent future school shootings.

    Meanwhile, a Tarrance Group poll has shown that only 5 percent of Americans want gunmakers and gun dealers held responsible for misuse of firearms.

    Clearly, the pressure for gun control is not coming from the grassroots. It comes from those layers of society that the left calls the “ruling classes” – academics, Hollywood stars, Washington insiders and multibillion-dollar media conglomerates.

    The latter are particularly influential in pushing anti-gun propaganda. A study by the Media Research Center released in January 2000 showed that television news stories calling for stricter gun laws outnumbered those opposing such laws by a ratio of 10 to 1.

    The blame for this media bias is traditionally assigned to “liberal journalists.” And, indeed, most journalists do hold left-of-center views. A 1996 survey of working journalists by the Roper Center and the Freedom Forum showed that 89 percent had voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Only 4 percent identified themselves as Republicans and only 2 percent as conservatives.

    Yet, their “liberal” views probably have less impact on the media’s anti-gun bias than most people assume. Rank-and-file reporters have little power to influence the political spin even of their own stories.

    When I worked at the New York Post in the mid-1980s, I found the newsroom filled with liberals. They grumbled constantly about the paper’s conservative slant. But they went along with it, because it was company policy.

    Liberal news organizations are no different. Political bias comes from the top. Rank-and-file reporters simply do what they are told.

    Those of us who cherish our Second Amendment rights are keeping our fingers crossed about George W. Bush. But the monolithic commitment America’s “ruling classes” have shown toward gun control makes one wonder whether even a president is free to buck the current.

    Cross-posted from FrontPage 01.08.01

    Cross-posted to NewsMax.com 01.08.01

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agentmel View Post
    Cruisr, I didn't take you to be picking on me at all. No worries there. I'm assuming you're probably in Orlando, or near by, since no one else is usually willing to admit to to living in Central Florida! j/k I'm in SW FL in a pretty conservative county. I think our demographic is somewhat different. Obviously, I'd be one of the people working the store, and we wouldn't need that many.

    One of the most interesting business trends of late is people starting businesses from their homes to cut down on the capital risk. Are there laws that say you can't sell personal defense type items (like firearms) from your home as long as you are a licensed dealer?

    Mel
    Yeah, greater Orlando, west side. Your demographic would be very different! Hopefully local govt. sentiments are different as well. For home businesses in my experience getting an occupational licence can be tricky depending on local zoning code and projected business volume and parking issues. Many home businesses are unlicenced and quite frankly, illegal! Don't fall into that trap as it can bite you big time!!!

    Also be careful of using an FFL and selling firearms out of your home. BATFE can show up at will and can search the entire place. If they find an "issue" it may involve your whole house! Personal defense products should not be an issue however unless someone has come up with a local ordinance.

    I know what you mean about capital risk. When we opened our boat yard we borrowed 3/4 million. That will give you a lot of insomnia for a while!!!!!! Boy was I glad to sell that place!!!!
    If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

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    VIP Member Array friesepferd's Avatar
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    like starting any business, its risky. gun stores im sure are especially a pain with all the gov't regulations and such.
    if you have the funds and the ability, then go for it. we could always use some more. but definitely figure in advertising to your budget. you will need it.
    just remember that it really is quite a large risk, especially if you are borrowing the money.
    Last edited by Captain Crunch; January 10th, 2008 at 03:41 PM. Reason: Corrected spelling, it's "definitely", not "defiantly"

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    Senior Member Array cwblanco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by agentmel View Post
    Now, obviously there are pawn shops and the like, but here's ALL I found for my 2 county area in the yellow pages:

    Population: 673,000
    # of Gun dealers: 1
    # of Ranges: 1

    So, here's the question:

    Is my 2 county area of almost 700,000 people underserved by the 2 gun stores/ranges? How do you go about figuring out if this would be a viable market to start a self/home defense store?

    Mel
    That is incredible. Where is Gander Mountain, Academy Sports, Bass Pro, not to mention the smaller dealers that seem to thrive in spite of the big store competition?

    In my city of 176,000 we have three rather large dealers and several smaller ones plus the pawn shops. However, I did a similar search and found only one business listed under the topic of "Guns." Then I started searching under other topics such as "Hunting" and "Camping" and more started popping up. My conclusion is that the percentage of most store's gun sales compared to all of their sales is rather small, and therefore, not much, if any, of their advertising dollars goes for guns. I live in a gun friendly city and state, and do not believe that the dealers feel any retribution for advertising gun products.

    Other gun sellers:

    1. Some pawn shops are dealers for certain gun lines.

    2. Some FFL's market on a regular basis at gun shows held on a monthly basis.

    3. Some FFL's are sub-dealers for big online dealers such as Davidson's, and they are virtually unknown. This probably is due to the fact that this is only a side line activity for these FFL's.

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    Senior Member Array purple88yj's Avatar
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    The internet is another resource that buyers are using that is killing "local" gun sales. Anymore all an FFL dealer needs is the license and do transfers.

    I wind up doing more transfers in a months time than I sell of the store guns in a year. Granted, we are a pawn shop and the bulk of our sales are in other items, but either way I can see why the little local shops are suffering.
    "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in ... And how many want out." British Prime Minister Tony Blair

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    Member Array gglockster's Avatar
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    The question is "Are our markets underserved?" and the answer is yes.

    I really lamented the closing of a local range. The landlord could get more
    money for renting the space as a Karaoke bar than for renewing the lease
    for the range.

    I have to drive 30 minutes to a range that allows me to shoot pistol caliber (and that is when traffic is light). On a weekend this range is so busy even as an annual member I wait for a lane to open.

    To shoot rifle calibers, I have a good 45 minute drive and for an outdoor range close to an hour drive. There are some good gunsmiths within 45 minutes drive, but I just plan on a one month backlog even for minor work.

    Yes, I get better deals on both ammunition and firearms across the internet. A factor here is sales tax. On one hand, I would like to do more to support local stores but on the other hand the transaction prices are high. The convenience of internet shopping has become the deciding factor. Even with this my FFL will
    be increasing prices in March due to a bump in his insurance rates.

    Virginia is an affluent state with good gun laws. The Virginia Citizens Defense League is a great influence on the State legislature. The NRA is headquartered in Virginia. It stands to reason that there should be a more thriving market here.

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    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I just got back from the only gun range within 50 miles. It was too busy - the wait to shoot would have been over an hour. Not okay with me. I don't want to have to pay to wait. So I just didn't shoot. They have 4 tubes with benches for rifle. You have to sit at the bench and shoot through the tube. For pistol they have maybe 10 slots in a crappy bench and you have to shoot from behind the line. No moving, no drawing. That's just the way it is around here. Back home in WA, you just drive up an old logging road and find a gravel pit. Takes maybe 20 minutes if you live in town.

    Austin

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    Senior Member Array Duisburg's Avatar
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    well I hit gun shows every chance I can get and that is where I buy the bulk of my guns
    I am sworn to protect the Constitution of the U.S.A. from all threats both foreign and domestic.

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