Do you own or have you owned a gun store?

Do you own or have you owned a gun store?

This is a discussion on Do you own or have you owned a gun store? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Do any of y'all own a gun store now or have owned one in the past? What are some of the best and worst lessons ...

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Thread: Do you own or have you owned a gun store?

  1. #1
    Member Array maximumrob's Avatar
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    Do you own or have you owned a gun store?

    Do any of y'all own a gun store now or have owned one in the past? What are some of the best and worst lessons you had to learn? If you quit it, why did you get out of it?

    I know that turning one's passion in to a job can ruin the fun of it all for some folk, but that's a risk I might be willing to take some day.


    Thanks!


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array snowdoctor's Avatar
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    I have been half looking at a firearms/bait and tackle store now for like 6 months...I just can't seem to 'pull the trigger' on the purchase...
    This is a great thread, and I eagerly await some comments...
    ----DOC-----

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  3. #3
    Member Array mojave_pistolero's Avatar
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    I have never owned a gun store but I'd be willing to bet that some form of goverment regulations are the reason that some owners left the business. It will be interesting to see what they have to say. Good question.
    There is only one tactical principle which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time."
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  4. #4
    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    I think you'll find that most can't or won't compete with internet dealers.
    Treat me good, I'll treat you better. Treat me bad, I'll treat you worse.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Member Array mr.stuart's Avatar
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    One of the local gun shop owners told me it is a tough go.He said Gander Mountain and Academy have so much buying power it is hard to compete.An individual shop owner could stay in business by offering one-on-one service the big stores cannot.He did say no matter how much people like him,if they can buy the same gun 100.00 less,customers will go to the big stores.The local Gander store has a gunsmith,but for me,I would rather have repairs or alterations done by someone I can have coffee with and shoot the breeze.

  6. #6
    Member Array Mudrunner111's Avatar
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    I did back in the 70's and enjoyed it very much. Then more regulations came in and it became more difficult to operate the business. A lot of good memories back then. Some day I just might go back and do it again even with all the new problems of todays laws.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array HowardCohodas's Avatar
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    Years ago I had an aquaintance who's hobby was starting new businesses. His standard proceedure was to find someone who was successful at it but was geographically non-competitive. He would then meet with them to learn the methods that made the business successful. He always seemed to get lots of good information because, he said, successful people love to talk about their success. This was before the internet, but I think there is still wisdom in that approach.
    Howard
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  8. #8
    Member Array alfack's Avatar
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    A friend of mine owns a local gun shop. He said "the easiest way to make a million in the gun business is to start out with 2."

    It would be fun, if you could be successful. I think these days you almost need to offer something else, like an indoor range.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array wvshooter's Avatar
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    I've never owned one but I will say I don't think it's the internet or Gander Mtn. et. al. that decides success or failure. Here's what I think is required in order of importance.

    1. Plenty of start up capital
    2. Level one customer service
    3. Good location
    4. Willingness to spend all your time at the store

    These are probably the four biggies for any business. The best of the independent guns shops in my neck of the woods is in a town of about 15,000 and only about 300 yards from the interstate exit. They have a large inventory and everybody I've ever seen working there is very customer oriented, especially the owner. They do a great business.

    Another one here is in a metro area of about 60,000 has zero parking, what I would call average help, (they will help you but they're not overly excited to do so) and they also do a very good business. There are two others I know of and they also do well in spite of Gander Mtn. being nearby. My experience is that GM is higher than local shops for the same weapon is just about every case. And a lot of people would never buy anything on the internet preferring to do the handshake thing.

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array SubNine's Avatar
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    I support the mom and pop type gun stores over the big stores. They're more enthusiastic about the products they sell, and they know what they sell. I enjoy shooting the breeze with them, and talking guns and politics. Even if I could get a gun for 100 dollars cheaper, I'd still pay the higher price, because I trust the smaller guys more.
    USMC rule # 23 of gunfighting: Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.

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  11. #11
    Member Array maximumrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudrunner111 View Post
    I did back in the 70's and enjoyed it very much. Then more regulations came in and it became more difficult to operate the business.
    What regulations? I thought all that had to be done were background checks before selling a piece to a customer. I know ranges have lead disposal problems, but the retail store?

  12. #12
    Member Array vernonator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spyderdude View Post
    I support the mom and pop type gun stores over the big stores. They're more enthusiastic about the products they sell, and they know what they sell. I enjoy shooting the breeze with them, and talking guns and politics. Even if I could get a gun for 100 dollars cheaper, I'd still pay the higher price, because I trust the smaller guys more.
    You are a rare buyer....if I can save $100 on an $800 purchase I will most definatly save the money - mom and pop or not. I value my money and realize that I live in a different era, the small corner store is really not viable.....now if you rolled Internet sales in with a local (al la BudsGunsShop) then you may have something, but that is going to take ALOT of capital to keep going until you get your sales ramped up.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    I've never seen a gun at Gander Mountain for cheaper than the local guys. GM is overpriced. I refuse to shop there anymore. Sportsman's Warehouse has a better reloading selection, humble employees, and less overhead. When I'm in Green Bay (WI) I go to SW instead of GM all the time.

    Up here, there's only one shop close enough and he is outrageously priced. The next one is an hour away and GM is 2 hours east of here. That's where he gets you. He won't transfer new guns in anymore, just used guns. New guns have to be bought at his price from him. I don't buy from him anymore. If I buy guns, they are used and I only pay the transfer fee.

    I'm considering on getting my 01 FFL; I already have my 06 FFL. Plus there is no zoning where I live so I don't have to deal with that.
    07/02 FFL/SOT since 2006

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    I used to work in the gun department at Cabelas. Between the phone ringing off the hook especially at the busiest hours and angry customers because you don't stock a certain gun or item or you simply ran out, it was no fun believe me. Talk to Limatunes she even has a journal of her experience working in a gunstore. I could fill page after page of all the bad stuff but there were times I enjoyed talking to knowledgeable customers and helping neophytes choose a first gun. I learned a lot too and still learn from this website. Then on top of it all is the day to day hassles of running a business. I would think long and hard before I committed to anything.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximumrob View Post
    What regulations? I thought all that had to be done were background checks before selling a piece to a customer. I know ranges have lead disposal problems, but the retail store?
    FFL Licenses, FFL Record Keeping, liability insurance, storage and safe keeping of guns, fire regulations related to ammunition. If you also deal in black powder supplys there are seperate FFL licenses for black powder, requires a license for low yield explosives. Plus seperate regulations for storage of black powder.

    I owned an archery and muzzleloading firearms shop for several years. The paperwork and hours it takes to make a business go are extensive. After 2 years of 80-100 hours a week, and having to try and compete with the mail order houses I gave it up. I enjoyed what I did, but couldn't see killing myself over it.

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