Is the internet killing local gun shops? - Page 2

Is the internet killing local gun shops?

This is a discussion on Is the internet killing local gun shops? within the FFL Dealer Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Like I said in another thread, it's the way of the world now. And not gust gun shops, any small time retail business. The only ...

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Thread: Is the internet killing local gun shops?

  1. #16
    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Like I said in another thread, it's the way of the world now. And not gust gun shops, any small time retail business.
    The only thing gun shops have over other merchants is that in most cases a transfer is still needed. You're still going to need an FFL to buy a new gun, even if you don't buy it from them. Instead of doing what one shop did here and raise his transfer fees for specifically Buds, he should lower them and try to bring in as much business as he can. People are still going to need ammo with their new gun.
    And if you're a gun shop that doesn't offer smithing... you are losing out on a large part of business.
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  2. #17
    Senior Member Array CreedDryrot's Avatar
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    I was at a large mall yesterday, and it was a ghost town. People are doing all kinds of shopping online now.

    I'm not a fan of the 2 LGS's in my area, so I choose not to do business there. I'll either buy something at a show, on sale at Sporsman's Warehouse, or order it online and have it delivered to the pawn shop down the street I use as an FFL. There's nothing I need to have TODAY. I can wait for it to ship.
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  3. #18
    Member Array SunTsu's Avatar
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    Short answer: Yes

    Long Answer: The internet does not sell guns. Gun shops do. They're all local to somewhere. The effects of the online business has changed the balance. In years past heavy regulation and high price of entry lead to inefficiency and lack of price transparency to consumers within the gun market. Prices and profits were higher. Omnichannel retail sales has has allowed for innovative shops to thrive, increasing their consumer base from a town of 10,000 to a country of 300 million. On the other hand, the shops who refused to acknowledge the internet as a valid channel of sales have taken a beating. 10 years ago I remember many shops refusing to do FFL transfers for guns bought elsewhere 'It cuts into our profits!' They said. Today, they're all gone. All the business that survived and all entirely new business put great effort into online sales, with websites, or at a minimum selling through gun broker. The market shift has also forced business to provide a greater variety of services. Attached gun ranges, silencers, gun rentals, gunsmithing, classes, etc.
    Easy access to information, price transparency, and greater availability of products has given consumers better choices at better prices than ever before. But conversely has hurt businesses who failed to innovate, and businesses who relied on uninformed consumers or those with limited options overpaying.

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  5. #19
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    Yesterday, I emailed my LGS to ask if he had a relationship with Eagle Imports because I was looking for a Grand Power K100 Xtrim. He got back with me, said yes and was able to quote me one within $16 of what I could find it on-line. I'll have to pay sales tax, but no transfer fee, so while it will cost a bit more, I will have gotten it locally. This is the second time he has found me something I had an interest in and the price was so close to "on-line" the difference wasn't worth mentioning. So I have kind of reversed it and use the on-line stores as a guage to see if I'm getting a good price locally. YMMV.

  6. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck808 View Post
    I donít see them disappearing. Having worked in a gun store doing retail, the majority of people walking through the doors just want to ask questions and then buy a gun. They arenít interested in doing research online, or learning the (easy) process for buying s gun online.

    Gun stores just need to offer what internet retailers cannot, information. They need to play to their strengths. For me? I do the majority of my gun shopping at gun shows. Itís easier. I know exactly what I want, I find the lowest price, then order it. Donít need to ask any of the specs, how to use it, what the salesman prefers, etc. For every single one of us, who are educated on guns and does a ton of research, shoots a lot, knows about guns, etc, there are 100 people who couldnít point to a Glock in a gun cabinet. Those people need gun stores with knowledgeable staff and the customer service they provide. That customer service costs money, and if you need that type experience, there are plenty of gun shops who will provide it for the right price.

    As for the gun store I worked for, I could buy a Glock online for $475, and have it in hand for $500, or I can pay them $650 for the same item after tax and background. Iím not gaining anything making them richer.

    For multiple decades I've bought about 70% of my guns at gun shows. 20% at LGS. 10% used, from close friends. I have have already shopped prices for a long time. I will even ck. pricing of all dealers at show, make notes, & then swing back to lowest price dealer. I've never paid for a backgrond ck., but the law here in Texas does require I pay sales tax. For my GSSF purchases, I'm limited to LGS, but all of those have ended up being a "good deal". I did have LGS find me a revolver I couldn't find anywhere else (Redhawk .41 mag. 2 3/4"). I'm sure they made a decent profit, but that's OK. I like them, & they are as good as any shop I've been in, in 50+ years of buying guns!
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  7. #21
    Senior Member Array Psycho41's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    I don't think the internet is hurting gun shops any more than any other brick-and-mortar retailer. It's a whole new world of commerce out there.

    I do suspect that nearly all internet sales will eventually be taxed, which may help level the playing field for retailers with a physical presence. But in the spirit of "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em," the savvy gun merchants will use the internet creatively to draw people into their stores.
    ^^ This.

    There are numerous reasons why "internet" sales are cheaper. As @gasmitty has stated, the Taxes is likely a temporary difference. When the internet first became a thing there was no easy way for retailers to determine the right tax to charge a buyer since taxes can be wildly different between counties and cities - not just states. Even though consumers are normally supposed to report non-taxed purchases, that is not typically the case and States want their revenue.

    But, an online only business does not need the same fixed costs of rent, utilities, etc. in order to operate. But, probably the number one advantage is salaries. A brick and mortar store needs to have employees available in order for people to visit the store to make a sale. If demand is high during some times, the store may need multiple people available. That leads to a lot of unproductive time when there are no customers. Salary is typically the highest cost for a retail business. Plus, it only serves customers within a certain distance. For an online only business, they are effectively open 24 hours for all consumers. The business only needs to employ enough staff to process the orders that are made on a daily basis - i.e. little or no unproductive time.

    Sure, we can try and push back, but we live in a different world. I remember when some of the same arguments were being made for Banks/Tellers when ATMs were first coming into use and then later with online banking. I for one don't want to go back to a time where I can only do banking on their hours.

  8. #22
    VIP Member Array Chuck808's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete63 View Post
    For multiple decades I've bought about 70% of my guns at gun shows. 20% at LGS. 10% used, from close friends. I have have already shopped prices for a long time. I will even ck. pricing of all dealers at show, make notes, & then swing back to lowest price dealer. I've never paid for a backgrond ck., but the law here in Texas does require I pay sales tax. For my GSSF purchases, I'm limited to LGS, but all of those have ended up being a "good deal". I did have LGS find me a revolver I couldn't find anywhere else (Redhawk .41 mag. 2 3/4"). I'm sure they made a decent profit, but that's OK. I like them, & they are as good as any shop I've been in, in 50+ years of buying guns!
    Whatever works best for you. My most recent gun purchase was at a physical store. They had a great deal so I went for it. I actually discovered the deal while looking at pricing online. It was a very fair price, so I got in my car and slapped down cash to buy it.

    Around here the gun shows are even worse than the gun stores.
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  9. #23
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    There is a certain amount of sleaze factor depending on the venue such as Pawn Shops and Gun Shops-FFL where the customer is not respected nor fairly treated. The owners of such venues are their own worst enemies. No one in todays market place wants to pay OEM-MSRP suggested retail and or inflated prices over MSRP due to availability of certain models such as SIG currently new to the market place subcompact 9mm pistol. Small retail venues don't have enough volume sales to discount the suggested MSRP. Business models change thus the only constant is change and if you can't adapt you are not going to relevant thus non successful.

  10. #24
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    I mainly buy most of my new firearms online and transfer them to one small shop. I occasionlly buy a few used guns from him, but he even told me that he makes his money off of transfers from other people and gun shows. I am all about saving money and shopping for the best deal if it is going to save me $ 150 to $200 on a new rifle.

  11. #25
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    The LGSs that are being hurt are the ones who have not kept up with the times. There are two small LGSs near me that have partnered with online services. You go to the LGS website. When you click "shop" it takes you to a national site that still displays the LGS' logo along with the service's logo. You can do a search for what you want and they have a full range of stuff at competitive prices. You order what you want and pay online. The gun shows up at the LGS and they do the paperwork, checks, etc. but you don't get charged any fee you would not get charged if you were buying a gun that was in stock. I bought a Sig that way from a gun shop and it worked great.

    The advantage to the shop is they can offer most anything customers want without having to hold a lot of inventory.
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  12. #26
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    I don't own a small business, but I am considering my next career after air traffic. I'm eligible to retire in 3 1/2 years and I'm in planning mode. I've considered getting an FFL and making a strong stab at local online transfers. There is almost no overhead and, if marketed correctly, the potential for a lot of customers.
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  13. #27
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    I would never order a gun from an online dealer even if the price was lower than the LGS. I feel strongly about supporting the LGS and also so he is there for your questions and help if you have an issue with a gun you purchased at that store. Plus, I like to go into the LGS and "window shop"!
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  14. #28
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    When I worked in the scuba industry, I observed very similar effects on the local dive shops. But as a friend once said, they can't fill scuba tanks on the internet. And yes, you can buy ammo over the internet still in most places. The dive shops that did not survive the big shakeout that took place during the past 10 years were the ones who did not provide a wide range of services and activities, kept in contact with their customers, and provided reasons to come into their stores. The exact same set of circumstances is happening with gun stores in many places.
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  15. #29
    Distinguished Member Array 1MoreFord's Avatar
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    There are all sorts of reasons LGS's (and other businesses) are going away.

    I used to be on a first name basis with guys at one shop. People were welcome to drop in and shoot the breeze. You could haggle on pricing that way there too! The owner fell ill and they are gone. Similarly the best ole time gun shop I've ever seen closed when the owner died suddenly. His wife was nice but didn't understand the business and his son was a jerk. They didn't last long after Bob died. The best all around local sporting goods store I've ever seen suffered a similar fate.

    l sure do miss these shops. At the first shop I only bought a few guns but they are a still with me and cherished. At the second shop I only bought a .177 pellet rifle that I can remember but they let me and many others browse to our hearts content. I thought I'd gotten a decent deal until I got home. Once there I found out it had select wood, select group, and selected for scope angle. All that for less than MSRP for the base model. Why can't other stores do this now? I never bought anything at the third store but they wiped the drool off everything I looked at and handled and never complained.

    I've not bought much in quite a few years and I'm not aware of a good gun shop around here where you can go in, shoot the breeze, and trade guns these days. There are a couple of maybe's but they're a good drive away.

    The really local shops like to sell new at retail or very near retail. One of them offers transfers for $40 when I can find transfers all over the place at pawn shops and mom & pop dealers for $20-25. The only incentive to shop there is they have a good indoor range and offer rentals. Another store is similar except I don't know their transfer fee. The second store will trade if you are willing to bend over w/o lube. They also like to stock high dollar stuff to show off that doesn't have much of any local demand. How often do you think someone from Arkansas buys an English Double Shotgun or Double Rifle.

    One local shop is a well stocked sporting goods store with a decent to good gun selection but I can't afford to shop there. Their predecessor was an old neighborhood grocery store that added sporting goods to their offerings and was Well known for their excellent pricing. The pricing didn't transfer to the second generation store when the original owner retired and sold.

    Another reason is that too many shops have employees who don't have a clue about how to deal with customers. They likely won't engage you when you walk in and start looking but if they do then they're likely to hover over your every move.

    I also question why LGS's say they can't compete when there are other brick and mortar stores who can, and do, compete locally and on the net.

    There are some online dealers who seem to be easier to deal with when problems arise than LGS's. Without something special to offer why not buy online and safe money?

    Monkey Wards didn't stay current and are gone. Sears and K-Mart are about to go. Brick and Mortar book stores are dying. Wal-Mart killed small town businesses. Between us we can all cite more examples.
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  16. #30
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    Ya'll need to move to Maine. It's easier to shop LGS here than on the 'net, there's more of LGS, they are friendlier and quite prevalent.
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