Is the internet killing local gun shops?

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; I was traveling yesterday and stopped in a nicely stocked gun shop. (New and used). The owner told me they are now struggling to compete, ...

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Thread: Is the internet killing local gun shops?

  1. #1
    Member Array Nifty's Avatar
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    Is the internet killing local gun shops?

    I was traveling yesterday and stopped in a nicely stocked gun shop. (New and used). The owner told me they are now struggling to compete, and with some products, their cost was higher than what they see some of the larger sites selling stuff online. He added once you also take away the sales tax, the online shopper was beating him nearly 20%. He also said they were gradually becoming more of a transfer shop, and would eventually have to raise their x'fer price to make up the difference.

    This is the second "local shop" I've heard this account from. I just wonder how long before they really disappear.
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  2. #2
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    Array gasmitty's Avatar
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    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.
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Chuck808's Avatar
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    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 online. 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.

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    Member Array Macantic's Avatar
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    A lot of malls and small businesses are hurting and closing because of on-line shopping.
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  6. #5
    Array msgt/ret's Avatar
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    I would say not, one of our local gun shops gets most of his business online through Gun Broker. The other gun shop I go to does sell quite a few guns but most of his sales are in ammo and accessories. There is a third gun shop in town that has a range, I donít go there and will not shop there again.
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  7. #6
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    More and more on line stores are adding state sales tax. This trend will continue to increase and I have no problem with it. I think it is fair enough: If it helps level the playing field and gets the sales tax money to the states automatically instead of relying on the state residents to file an annual return listing all the stuff they got on line and paying that money to the state on their own.

    It is a bit of a shock the first time you place an order with a company with which you regularly do business, to find that sales tax added on, but it also helps with price comparisons as to what you are actually paying for "whatever," whether it is a jar of jam or a case of ammo.

    Back to subject: I do not mind paying a little more to a local shop when they are good, honest people trying to make a living to support their families. Half again as much - no.

    We had the same problem 30 years ago as an independently owned hardware store when the big guys moved into our area. We belonged to a buying group (Ace Hardware) and could compete price-wise in some things but still had the image of being a local store and people expected higher prices. We also had a section of wallpaper (and paint), and people would "shop" our sample books and then order on line. We fixed that at least temporarily by having all the pages coded so they could not order by the pattern number. You have to do what is needed to keep up with the times.
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    My first thought was, if someone is selling an item online for less than your cost, buy it from them instead of your normal supplier and then resell it.

    I support my LGS through my range fees, and I have on occasion bought items there, even a few guns. I still look in the used gun case when I'm in there, but I can't justify paying $100+ more for a gun than I should.

    Case in point: a while back, I was shopping for a Springfield Armory TRP. The LGS had one in the case for $1,650 + background check + 7% sales tax ($115.50) OTD: $1,770.50. Grabagun had the same gun for $1,249 + $7.99 shipping + $20 transfer fee from another shop (LGS charges $50). For $493, I'll wait a few days.

  9. #8
    Senior Member Array johndp1911's Avatar
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    Yep, my favorite shop closed up about a year ago for this reason. He told me the same thing: people are buying guns cheaper online than what he can get them for at cost then having them shipped to him for the transfer (he only charged $10). Wasn't much longer and he was closing his doors.

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Havok's Avatar
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    I havenít bought many new guns in the last few years, only a couple. One was ordered from buds, and the other ordered through a local stores blue label program. When I do my shopping, I usually look online first for a few reasons. One is that itís hard to get good service, the second is that they donít have a good inventory, and the third is that their prices are high after deal with all that. So there is no incentive to not just order it online and pay the transfer fee.
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  11. #10
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    My LGS sells online through Its prices online are lower than they are for in-store merchandise. However, the in-store merchandise has the FFL fees included, and the online prices do not. My experience has been that when I add the shipping and FFL to online gun prices it is pretty much a wash. I like to buy in the store because I can go over the gun very carefully and I I do not like something I do not have to deal with returning it especially if it would have to be shipped.
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  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array BlackhawkGirl's Avatar
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    Sales tax in TN is 9%. If I buy a gun from another state on GunBroker, for the same price as an LGS, I save 9%. That is $81 on a $900 gun. If I find the same gun on-line for $800, then I am saving $172 dollars (including tax). That is nothing to sniffle at.

    I try to go to the local LGS, and I think I have purchased something from most every one around here. But I do also buy on GunBroker when it makes financial sense to do so, or if an item is scarce.
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  13. #12
    VIP Member Array forester58's Avatar
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    Appears some of you pay for the background check? Never heard that one before. We don't have sales tax in Montana but, this town has a 3% "resort sales tax". It exempted guns and ammo though which is great. I pay a $25 transfer fee to have something shipped to the LGS but, he will also take offers on used and try to get me what I am looking for. I would easily pay another $50 over online to keep my money local and be able to actually handle first the gun I am buying.
    Nothing takes the place of a good LGS and the relationship you can foster with good owners. Sometimes I just go down and BS and handle guns. He specializes in antique lever guns and military arms that run way beyond my means but, fun to handle and talk history.
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  14. #13
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    The world has changed, and the LGS is struggling, I believe, because of the internet. Having said that, the issue is not the internet, but how the LGS does business. Improvise, adapt, overcome works there too. If you want to survive as a LGS now, you must have an online presence, sell online, offer transfers, all that stuff. It is simply the changing business model. Someday, this too will change. For now, it's how to stay in business. Mom and Pop shops who have been in business for years will have to change or close. It is not a happy thing, it's just what is.
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  15. #14
    VIP Member Array LimaCharlie's Avatar
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    Yes, internet sales and big box stores have closed several local gun stores in my area. Some big box stores sell guns at or very near their costs as loss leaders and buy hundreds or thousands of a model for a much better price. In many cases, their out the door price is less than the local gun store's wholesale price for one or two guns.

    Many online sellers never touch the merchandise. They do the online sale, but the merchandise is shipped to you from a distributer or the factory.

    The only local stores still open do lots of gunsmithing and have an older loyal clientele who appreciate that if they have a problem with a new or used gun they just purchased, the local shop stands behind it and takes care of it. When you buy a new gun online or from a big box store and have an issue, they tell you to call the manufacturer. When you buy a used gun online, good luck getting a problem fixed.
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  16. #15
    Distinguished Member Array riverrambler's Avatar
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    Don't know how other states work but here in Wa, though you may pay for a gun online with no sales tax, it must be shipped to a local FFL who adds their fee plus state sales tax for the gun purchase.
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