Any Gun Shop Owners on here?

IanCo

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Aug 24, 2018
Messages
285
Location
Colorado
The local gun shop is for sale and I have about 75% of the asking price. However, it is my life savings so I am curious about the viability of this type of business as a long term investment. I know that the political state of our country doesn’t really add a lot of confidence. I also know gun sales were quite high when Obama was in office. That’s why I would like to hear from some gun store owners that have weathered some of these political storms in the past.
 

BallisticsGuy

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May 8, 2016
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1,203
Location
Heck
I never owned one but I worked at one for a lot of years. Nowadays it's not really a viable business unless you've got something forcing people to come and visit. In California the gun shops basically have to grow in number just to deal with the ammo background checks. In other places they're dying off because of internet sales. The normal margin given on guns by the distributors and manufacturers when I was in the game was 18% which means the only way to keep the lights on is ammo, services and accessories. We'd put markups really high on those things just to keep the power bill paid. As a practical matter the amount of paperwork alone is hugely daunting and many many little tiny screw-ups can literally get you shut down or fined or both.

If you've no experience in the field, go to your local GS and ask them if you can volunteer to help them for the next year or two so you can learn the ropes and decide if you want to take your one whole life savings and turn it into one half of a life savings.

As far as traffic through the door based on political states... it was a little like porn. If the economy is bad, porn makes more money. If the economy is good, porn makes more money. If politics threatens guns, gun sales spike and discrimination about what gun to buy drops to near zero (any port in a storm right). When the political situation is not dire, sales continually rise but discrimination about what gun to buy skyrockets.

The above is based on >5 years working in a small California gun shop with daily sales of normally under $3000.
 

IanCo

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Joined
Aug 24, 2018
Messages
285
Location
Colorado
I never owned one but I worked at one for a lot of years. Nowadays it's not really a viable business unless you've got something forcing people to come and visit. In California the gun shops basically have to grow in number just to deal with the ammo background checks. In other places they're dying off because of internet sales. The normal margin given on guns by the distributors and manufacturers when I was in the game was 18% which means the only way to keep the lights on is ammo, services and accessories. We'd put markups really high on those things just to keep the power bill paid. As a practical matter the amount of paperwork alone is hugely daunting and many many little tiny screw-ups can literally get you shut down or fined or both.

If you've no experience in the field, go to your local GS and ask them if you can volunteer to help them for the next year or two so you can learn the ropes and decide if you want to take your one whole life savings and turn it into one half of a life savings.

As far as traffic through the door based on political states... it was a little like porn. If the economy is bad, porn makes more money. If the economy is good, porn makes more money. If politics threatens guns, gun sales spike and discrimination about what gun to buy drops to near zero (any port in a storm right). When the political situation is not dire, sales continually rise but discrimination about what gun to buy skyrockets.

The above is based on >5 years working in a small California gun shop with daily sales of normally under $3000.
Thanks. I think that is what I expected to hear. I didn’t really expect the new gun sales to be the driving force, I assumed it would all of the side markets within the store. Working in the store for some time to understand the daily business side of it would be very helpful.
 

softtail103

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Jun 24, 2009
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576
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Pacific Northwest
It is very tough right now. To be able to order what your customer needs is just not happening. The used gun market is more profitable than new. But to get the used you need the new for customers to trade in on. Every market is different. Ammunition is really hard to keep anything in stock for your regular customers. In my opinion it is probably the toughest it has ever been. Then the political side is another problem. The paper work has to be exact. I enjoy what I do but I still have not built my new store on a lot that I own. A new store is around 250k for the building and parking landscape. Not a huge investment for a existing business, but I still don’t have the confidence in the industry at this time to proceed with the new building.
 

IanCo

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Joined
Aug 24, 2018
Messages
285
Location
Colorado
It is very tough right now. To be able to order what your customer needs is just not happening. The used gun market is more profitable than new. But to get the used you need the new for customers to trade in on. Every market is different. Ammunition is really hard to keep anything in stock for your regular customers. In my opinion it is probably the toughest it has ever been. Then the political side is another problem. The paper work has to be exact. I enjoy what I do but I still have not built my new store on a lot that I own. A new store is around 250k for the building and parking landscape. Not a huge investment for a existing business, but I still don’t have the confidence in the industry at this time to proceed with the new building.
Thanks for your feedback.
 

LVJ76

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Feb 2, 2019
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2,726
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Tucson, Arizona
My dad had one for 10 years until he passed and it did good. When he passed we had to close it and sell everything. My wife and I would've taken over it but my dad lived in a different town and we weren't able to make it work.

I will say this, he knew his customers and always had what they wanted and needed. I've seen several shops close because they had the product they wanted and not what the customers wanted or needed.

Take a look at their financial statements and see for real how they are doing, if they are serious about selling they'll show them to you. Look for the biggest monthly expenses vs income and go from there.

Stay safe
 

FrogFire7

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Joined
May 23, 2017
Messages
505
Location
Pennsylvania
I don't own one, but worked in one as a "fun" (and it was fun!) job for about 4 years. Kind of a "biggest little store" around.

Markup isn't high if you want to stay competitive.

Not sure what the future holds, but the owner told me that all this summer through now, literally every gun and all ammunition is allocated (I believe this is pretty much unpreceded, but may be wrong. He could tell you, he's been in business for 48 years this year!). Meaning, he can't go online and order what he wants (or his customers want), his distributors call him and say "I have 3 boxes of 9mm" (sad as that is, I'm not making it up. Obviously it's not like that every call, but when they call you and tell you that you can only have 3 boxes, it's not a good situation). Same for guns. The demand is just insane right now.

Now, the market will equalize at some point, like it always does (barring drastic political changes/regulations, etc). The question is: can you make it long enough on basically no inventory to survive?

Obviously you will sell just about anything you get in stock right now, but will it be enough? And if you raise your markup due to supply shortages, will you retain your reputation and market base?

Is all up to you, and I 100% wish you the best of luck if you go forward with it. I'd proceed with caution though. Very, very tough time to get into the game.
 

VALKYRIETP

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Feb 2, 2018
Messages
75
Location
APPLE VALLEY, MINNESOTA
What's going to happen in Colorado when all of the wolves on the new wolf plan have taken out all of the elk and deer. Who's going to need a new rifle when there is no game to hunt.

T.P.
 

antelopedundee

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Joined
Oct 14, 2018
Messages
1,177
Location
Iowa
I don't own one, but worked in one as a "fun" (and it was fun!) job for about 4 years. Kind of a "biggest little store" around.

Markup isn't high if you want to stay competitive.

Not sure what the future holds, but the owner told me that all this summer through now, literally every gun and all ammunition is allocated (I believe this is pretty much unpreceded, but may be wrong. He could tell you, he's been in business for 48 years this year!). Meaning, he can't go online and order what he wants (or his customers want), his distributors call him and say "I have 3 boxes of 9mm" (sad as that is, I'm not making it up. Obviously it's not like that every call, but when they call you and tell you that you can only have 3 boxes, it's not a good situation). Same for guns. The demand is just insane right now.

Now, the market will equalize at some point, like it always does (barring drastic political changes/regulations, etc). The question is: can you make it long enough on basically no inventory to survive?

Obviously you will sell just about anything you get in stock right now, but will it be enough? And if you raise your markup due to supply shortages, will you retain your reputation and market base?

Is all up to you, and I 100% wish you the best of luck if you go forward with it. I'd proceed with caution though. Very, very tough time to get into the game.

The shipping on 3 boxes will eat into your profit.
 
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