Gun Industry / Gun shop discussion megathread

drgrant

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Based off the activity in the ZA closing thread I thought this deserved its own thread.

Let's put some ground rules out there... no personal attacks or any of that BS, not needed. I would also try to refrain from bashing particular shops even, this is more about the things you like or don't like about the gun shop retail existence in New England... or observations on what a lot of shops are doing right and what others are doing horribly wrong.

Things like:

Location. Stocking. Gunsmithing (on site etc), Hours of Operation. Location. (yes I said that twice), Staffing, and general business practices.
 

drgrant

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One of the things that drives me batty as hell is bizarre (or more like not so bizarre) hours.

Very few shops are open on nights and weekends. Many of them keep bankers hours. I get it, the old codger types can hang around and drink coffee with you guys because they're retired... but in the rest of the world, most of us can only buy guns on nights and weekends. Some of the better small ones hell I can call up the owner on their cell phone and if they're around they'll meet me at their shop to make a sale happen if I'm serious.

ETA: I realize that people have to go home and eat and can't work 7 days a week, but I've often wondered if a lot of these places would do better off just lopping off monday and tuesday off their hours instead... course the Sunday thing might cause labor law issues (need to pay people extra?) not sure how that works...

-Mike
 
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A local shop in my area was open from 1-9 Monday through Saturday. Pidgeon's in New Haven VT.

He's since curtailed it to 1-7:30, which still isn't bad. And he isn't real young either. He's currently looking for someone to buy him out.

The reason I mention this is IF this guy can do it, what's the excuse of the rest of them. They could at least get close. Too many close at 5 to 6. Pretty stupid if you ask me.
 

drgrant

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A local shop in my area was open from 1-9 Monday through Saturday. Pidgeon's in New Haven VT.

He's since curtailed it to 1-7:30, which still isn't bad. And he isn't real young either. He's currently looking for someone to buy him out.

The reason I mention this is IF this guy can do it, what's the excuse of the rest of them. They could at least get close. Too many close at 5 to 6. Pretty stupid if you ask me.
Exactly.... even if I worked the "early" TOD where I work, I would get out of work at like 4:30, which isn't enough time to get anywhere before they closed. One of the reasons that Four Seaons, as an example, is so popular is because of Thursday night, they're open till like 8 pm I believe. Many years ago I ended up dropping tons of money in that shop for precisely that reason. I could bounce out of work and go up to FS and still have an hour or so before they closed to look at stuff, maybe put something on layaway, buy some odds and ends,
etc. I wasn't the only one that did this either, hell there were a bunch of us. Hell I met some NESers there before NES even existed... [laugh]

-Mike
 
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Down here in Texas many shops are closed on Sundays (some Monday as well) but Saturday is pretty much always a full workday.

As for selling parts, most don't sell lower parts kits but they stock magpul butt stocks and the like.

Transfer business is how a place can get people to come in and spend extra money on odds and ends. When you think about what a transfer entails-not much effort-it makes sense to offer that service.
 
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Well, I do think Dave Pidgeon got the idea from my father.

When we lived in Milton (VT, not Mass), we used to be open until 9 every night. Seems we had no shortage of customers most nights too. The "old man" (my father) used to work in the shop until 11, then came up to bed. I worked there, until 9, then got some TV time.
 
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Transfer business is how a place can get people to come in and spend extra money on odds and ends. When you think about what a transfer entails-not much effort-it makes sense to offer that service.
Some shops get stupid on transfers, and price themselves out of the market.

I sell parts, and usually keep lower parts kits on hand. Plus, I sell each individual part separately. Not many do that. More money for me though.
 
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My barber is closed on Sunday & Monday - I know this - I don't try to get a haircut on those days. I've gone to the same shop for 30 years. Lesson = Be consistent.

A simple, "Hi - if you need anything let me know." kind of greeting is easy and lets me know:
A - you know I'm here
B - I know you're there
C - you want to help

If you have product I like, I'll ask - if not a simple, "Thanks, see you later!" on my part closes the conversation.

In a store with multiple employees I'm not offended by repeated, "Are you being helped/Do you have any questions?" from staff - They want to help.

First name introductions go a long way - remembering my name goes even further. Repeat customers don't always buy but they always come back. Ask my barber...
 
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one shop local to me will not transfer lowers. reason?? he sells lowers and if he starts transferring them, he will never sell his. to me its better to transfer if even 10 lowers a month at $25 than to sell no lowers because they are priced at over $125.

another shop local to me charges (charged? have not checked in a while so idk if price is current) $50 for transfers.

another thing I don't like is when no matter what you are looking for, they can always order it for you. never have it in stock.

final thing I can think of is when they ask you what you are looking for and you tell them exactly what you want and they tell you no you don't want that, you want this and what they show you is double the price of what you were looking for....NO sir/ma'am, that's what you think I should get but I came in here looking for something specific because THAT IS WHAT I WANT

there are other things I don't like but cannot think of them right now.
 
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$25 to $35 transfers are acceptable. Gouging customers is flat out stupid, unless you don't want their business.

If a shop is real smart, they'll do an occasional transfer for good customers for free. They'll get their money back from selling peripheral stuff.

As to having to order, I get stuff at cost anyways. But, if I didn't, there's only one shop that comes close to selling what I buy, and it's just outside of Troy, NY. Nobody else carries that kind of stuff.
 

Andy in NH

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Me: How much for a firearms transfer?

Gun Shop Clerk: Depends on what gun it is.

Me: Why is that?

GSC: We don't do transfers on guns we sell in the store.

Me: Ok, but I'd like to have a custom built gun shipped here and transferred.

GSC: How much does the gun cost?

Me: Why is that important?

GSC: We charge a percentage based on how expensive the gun is.

Me: Thank you very much. Goodbye.
 

ColdDayInHell

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Collectors Gallery have been fair to me. Jack is a nice guy and treats me fairly. The rest of the guys are grumpy *******s but I don't go there for bedside manners. I get my guns / ammo and leave. Some of you need pampering when buying guns , too funny. LOL.
 
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There are shops I go into expecting grumpy fawkes - day of the week and so on. IRDGAF - I go in to see inventory but at least acknowledge my presence and say hi. Of the 3 to 4 of you, lift your head out of the screen/pron mag/newspaper and say hello - I'm more likely to go back and /or buy something - anything - just because
 

drgrant

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Me: How much for a firearms transfer?

Gun Shop Clerk: Depends on what gun it is.

Me: Why is that?

GSC: We don't do transfers on guns we sell in the store.

Me: Ok, but I'd like to have a custom built gun shipped here and transferred.

GSC: How much does the gun cost?

Me: Why is that important?

GSC: We charge a percentage based on how expensive the gun is.

Me: Thank you very much. Goodbye.
That is awful, at that point I'd rather them just say they don't do transfers. Even a fixed higher price (say 45 bucks or something) is better than that crap.

-Mike
 
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Yes, agreed gun shops keeping bank hours is mind numbing as are ones that charge inordinate fees for simple transfers. I moved from the Philly area, and let me tell you, gun shops are open until 9-10 almost everyday except Sunday, and the super successful ones have rental ranges, lounges, courses and competitions, and are becoming more female friendly. The place I know that more closely reminds my of my old stomping grounds is AFS, but they are lacking on their offerings for sale.
 
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I've never worked at a LGS but I do run a business. I can only imagine some of the people LGS have to deal with. I've seen some seriously angry customers when they try to buy something they can't or get delayed by NICS.
 
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i think it would make sense for an FFL to not have a store front and to do purely transfers. an FFL that i used had 5pm-9pm store hours 3 days a week. very limited stock. he did primarily transfers. he was audited in 2013 (i think it was after sandy hook that ATF was giving dealers a hard time). it was mentioned that there were 4000+ form 4473s from the previous year. he charged $15 for a transfer and 5% markup on davidsons ($15 on $300). so i figure $60k a year minimum for working 12 hours a week. not bad for a 2nd job running a business from a shed next to his house.

other stores were charging $35+. one place $65. now if every dealer charges $50 or something absurd for the transfer, then it would force people to purchase from the local inventory rather than shopping online. but just one store charging $65 - it'll make people spend $0 there and $xx to do the transfer elsewhere.

i do my research online (reviews, videos, forums, etc). it usually takes several days so i'm not in a rush to buy anything. then i look for the most reputable online shop with the lowest cost and finally just use the local FFL to do the transfer. if there was no need for a middleman, i would not use a LGS at all, except to buy / sell used.

for ammo i purchased in bulk, except for .22LR which i'd buy from walmart as needed. during the shortage some LGS here were much more likely to carry stock and reasonable in pricing than any place online. so i was dependent on those stores then.

a perfect gun store for me would be someone with a low transfer fee ~ $20. reliable communication, whether it's phone or email. reliable hours of operation. if there's an appointment, be there. be there during advertised hours. if there's an online presence, keep the information up to date - including future dates when the store will be closed. showing inventory online with prices is very good; pictures are even better. maybe consignment. and a selection of ammo JIC.

how would you describe your perfect store?
 

white feather

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Perfect gun shop? Lew Hortons in Framingham, Colmans in Canton, Reileys in Hookset, KTP in Kittery, Tightlines in Bridgewater, Taylors in Plainville. Wait, the 80s are the distant past [sad2] nothing like these shops today. Even the two that are still in business...
 
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I think the biggest issue with most gun shops is that shopping in person sucks, while shopping in person with mandated government paperwork and review is just awful. There is a reason I buy just about everything possible from Amazon, that I almost never go into a physical store to get anything but fresh food, and that when I do shop in person I want the least amount of interaction possible -- to get what I want at a decent price and get out of there. Given this wonderful modern reality of not having to wander around little stores hoping for inventory, a decent clerk, no crowding, etc., it's no wonder the gun shop stands out as one of the few holdouts where we can't replace the whole miserable process with an Amazon order. I don't think gun shops are the problem. Gun shopping is the problem.
 
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I know overhead is always a problem but I'd like to see a store carry a decent selection of holsters and leather gun belts in popular sizes. Holsters carried are usually shitty nylon generic crap or for guns seldom found in Mass. Quality leather gun belts are seldom in stick. I guess the demand isn't there.
 

Rob Boudrie

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Perfect gun shop? Lew Hortons in Framingham, Colmans in Canton, Reileys in Hookset, KTP in Kittery, Tightlines in Bridgewater, Taylors in Plainville. Wait, the 80s are the distant past [sad2] nothing like these shops today. Even the two that are still in business...
Lew Hortons was a good shop but, unless you caught the rare used gun sale (like the 99% S&W 5.5" 25-2 I got for $350), they were a very expensive shop and not a place to get deals.

It was perhaps one of the best shops to browse in, but did not compare to Four Seasons as a place to buy good stuff at good prices.

one shop local to me will not transfer lowers. reason?? he sells lowers and if he starts transferring them, he will never sell his. to me its better to transfer if even 10 lowers a month at $25 than to sell no lowers because they are priced at over $125.
Markups on guns are low because there is a lot of competition, and buyers can get access to dealer pricing (or near to it) via gunbroker and Shotgun News. Most businesses have extensive procedures in place to protect dealer markups (you aren't getting near a dealer price list for new Trek bicycles unless you are legitimately in the trade, and aren't going to see the on-line dealer diamond marketplace unless you are in the business).

Unless the shop is taking an approach of "high markup, few customers" (Bass Pro style pricing), the dealer will make about as much on a sale as on a transfer. If the dealer were competitively priced on his lowers, he would probably be making more money on a transfer than on a sale.
 
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The Goose

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Personally I would like to see more gun shops function in a professional manner. I am on the road a lot and stop in shops when I am in that area. I am amazed at how inconsistent so many shops are. One time the guy behind the counter is friendly and helpful and then the next time he treats me like the village idiot with drool running down my face. Too many shops employees (and even owners) seem to treat it like it is some kind of hobby. I run a small business. Everyone is expected to behave in a professional manner at all times no matter what. Always be polite, always be helpful and always be kind. Sales (and the gun business is sales) is not about getting YOUR needs met, it is about meeting the needs of your clients. This does not mean that one should eat crap or that the customer is always right, but it does mean acting with some personal self control and accountability. No one should ever speak badly about a customer to another customer. I do not want to hear what an idiot the last guy was because it makes me think that I will be that last guy to the next guy.
 

FancyGunz

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I find it very frustrating when I find a great deal online but can't do the transfer because the store says, "we can order that for you for a great price!" which is always higher.

Some places will do the transfer but try to make you feel guilty for not buying it for their inflated price.

Great business practices!
 

greencobra

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i don't know how a modern shop stays in business these days. i've always said shooters are the cheapest people alive. i've been standing in four seasons more than once to hear a customer tell the counter guy he has driven off the cape to save 20 bucks on a gun purchase. jeezus, thats at least 3 hours minimum driving time + gas. it's crazy sometimes.
 
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i don't know how a modern shop stays in business these days. i've always said shooters are the cheapest people alive. i've been standing in four seasons more than once to hear a customer tell the counter guy he has driven off the cape to save 20 bucks on a gun purchase. jeezus, thats at least 3 hours minimum driving time + gas. it's crazy sometimes.
Agreed.

I understand being upset about huge price discrepancies, but people that quote a $20 mark up at a brick and mortar gun store vs an online store, which half the time does not have the inventory and is advertising it anyways, can eat a bag of dicks.

If joe jerkoff who drives 65 minutes to save 15$ starts quoting online gun prices, then let them try and get ammo online when all these gun stores go out of business because you wanted to save 15$ on your bodyguard 380.
 

EJFudd

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It is a fact that limited business hours and difficult physical locations have stopped me from doing business with a large number of (mostly smaller volume) dealers. As much as I like to spread my business around and patronize small and brand new dealers, the "convenient-to-get-to-on-my-terms" dealers are still the ones who get the bulk of my business.
 

Rob Boudrie

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i don't know how a modern shop stays in business these days. i've always said shooters are the cheapest people alive. i've been standing in four seasons more than once to hear a customer tell the counter guy he has driven off the cape to save 20 bucks on a gun purchase. jeezus, thats at least 3 hours minimum driving time + gas. it's crazy sometimes.
Well, now you understand how Four Seasons stays in business.
but because they regularly update their used firearm list
That'e because Four Seasons has a database driven system and can easily update the list, and remove guns instantly at time of sale rather than attempting to keep an HTML based page updated.
 
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