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Posted: 4/8/2002 12:46:25 PM EDT
My bride and I have been looking for our own business cause I'm sick of the corporate crap. I think a decent family owned gun shop where people could actually ask the owner some questions, ask about availability etc. would go over well. I would want to cater to "Newbies" in Personal Defense as I think that too many shops assume knowledge and give bad advice..especially to women. Any suggestions about getting started as a dealer? Should I shun the gun show circuit or embrace it? My family loves guns, I love guns, I want my own business.....why not? P.S. Live in Houston, TX big market....lots of big stores with volume discounts but not as user-friendly as they should be...IMHO. Thanx in advance for advice or suggestions... Coz
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 12:56:02 PM EDT
I dont see why you should totally shun gun shows,especially in the beginning when you are getting the word out about your store.At a gun show you meet many many fellow enthusiast from all over the state.Just my .02 !
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 1:08:26 PM EDT
Ally yourself with an NRA instructor. You can both send each other business. His services will be especially useful if you are catering to newbies.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 1:50:35 PM EDT
Go for it. Treat people with fairness and respect and you should do fine. Just resign yourself to the fact that there will be people who will still be dicks even if your a nice guy and dont let it discourage you. Also enbrace the internet, dont compete against it or you will suffer. Look for a niche that exists and has demand and try to fill it. BrenLover
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 1:57:49 PM EDT
What part of Houston?
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 2:13:26 PM EDT
[url]http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?id=107225[/url]
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 3:36:43 PM EDT
Energizer, NW side is my area residence/Spring/Klein/Tomball..... Cheers
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 3:41:19 PM EDT
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 3:51:03 PM EDT
Hardcase, I read the old topic with Steyraug's top ten reasons NOT get an FFL.. Are you guys telling me that of those 300 tables at the gun show, none of them is making any money? That's a bit hard to believe. I am looking for a niche area and I think I may have found it in an area of town bereft of decent gun shops. I will take the advice of aligning with an NRA instructor and probably with my CHL instructor(if possible) as I intend to cater a bit to personal defense. Can't neglect hunters in TX though, so I'm sure they'll keep me going...... Truth is, I'd rather go bankrupt trying a business venture than continue in the kiss ass politic world where than can walk you out the door for any reason they see fit...(For non-TX residents, TX is a "right to work" state, meaning you can be fired for wearing the wrong color shirt to work). I think it's worth a try. An FFL is much cheaper than a Liquor license! and liquor stores get robbed more often than gun dealers......I wonder why?
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 4:53:45 PM EDT
Jim Pruitt's shop is up there on the NW side, Huffmiester just north of 290. He's got a great store, but it is almost 100% dedicated to "black-rifle" types. I don't think he had ANY hunting or outdoor gear. I think he said he tries to make $25* a gun, if you can compete with that, go for it. *Going from a weak memory here, forgive me if I'm wrong.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:25:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/8/2002 8:29:05 PM EDT by Nathaniel_Hawkins]
Lets do the numbers (estimation): [b]Fixed Costs:[/b] Rent: $ 900 month Lights: 150 Phone: 78 Water: 18 Permits: 50 Insurance: 400 Misc Exp. (Professional) 200: [b]Total fixed overhead: $1,796 per month/$59.87 per day[/b] Assuming that you would have 10% return on your sales per day, you would have to do about [b]$598.70[/b] per day in sales just to pay the fixed costs. Factor in a salary for you of about $25,000 per year would require you to sell an additional [b]$694.44[/b] per day. Total sales of [b]$1,293.14[/b] per day for 360 days per year. $1,293.14 / Ammo @ 7.95 ea. = 162.64 boxes need to be sold a day. Firearms are elastic goods, don’t consider it in your sales. Take into consideration of inventory for balance sheet purposes, that will really mess with you. If you can hack it, got for it, but remember that have many competitiors will mean that your will have a hard time making a profit. Utilities considered fixed costs for estimation. WATCH YOUR INVENTORY AND EXPENSES! $25000 year/360 days/8 hours = $8.68 per hour
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:28:43 PM EDT
I'll sell you one.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:29:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Coz_45-age-caliber: Energizer, NW side is my area residence/Spring/Klein/Tomball..... Cheers
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Cool! I visit that area all the time. (I live in Dallas though)
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:47:15 PM EDT
Great idea to start your own business. A few things to consider 1. a business plan grounded with real numbers. Costs, profit margins, and a business focus. 2. it must be very detailed, like numbers of employees, what kind of employees, accounting methods, record keeping. The finished plan is a good guide and will allow for many contingencies and will help you in running a growing your business. IT should include goals for your business, how much you wanna make and realistic numbers. it will tell you when you are making mioney. is there a niche that you can fill better than some one else. what kind of deals can you get from manufacturers. what are they willing to help you with -- consignment inventory? A good business plan will help you more than you know and they take a very long time to write, They are extremely detailed right down to the fixtures and bullets. A good gun shop is a good place, good luck
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:58:19 PM EDT
Maybe your niche could be a small sporting goods store, specializing in shooting sports, but also having camping/hiking/hunting gear that is needed for hunting...
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 9:11:03 PM EDT
Sure the 300 tables make some money which they put right back into inventory. Goto the next gun show and ask each table holder if this is thier primary job or just a weekend hobby job. I think you will find almost all of the tables are small home based dealers who do not rely upon the gun business to put food on the table.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 4:59:01 AM EDT
A few suggestions.... Go to the gun shows because you can jack up the prices 25% instead of 50% like everyone else and make some good money. No really, I honestly believe that a dealer could do better than expected at the gun shows if they provided a fair price. Many people like myself go with a pocket of cash and with an education of what items should cost. So, if I can buy the S.A battle packs for $33 each what makes you think I will pay $49 at a gun show? Or a case of Wolf .223 for $100, why pay $145 at a gun show? The same holds true for handguns and rifles. Also, through reading the post, many of the people here will keep you in business if you provide a good price with good service. And don't forget group purchases. Every 3-4 months, do a group purchase with different handguns and rifles. Ok, enough rambling for now. Cheers!
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 5:13:37 AM EDT
Would you like to run a shoe store? Would you like to run an auto parts store? Would you like to run a grocery store? I think you need to keep in mind that retail is retail is retail. You are in the selling business, not in the gun business. If you read all the threads on internet boards bitching about gunstores (from both sides of the counter) a recurring theme is that gunstore owners who are gun enthusiasts rather than businessmen tend to have a low level of customer satisfaction and tend to be unhappy with the business themselves. They bitch because typical things that happen in a retail business get them all bent out of shape e.g. customers who look at everything in the store and buy nothing, suppliers who are late, buyers who default, answering the same questions over and over and over. Their customers bitch because they don't like dealing with a cranky guy who constantly seems irritated and more interested in everything BUT making a sale. I really think you ought to give working retail a try before you jump into this and you should give very strong consideration to something other than the gun business. Mixing your hobby with your livlihood isn't always as great as it sounds.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 5:24:25 AM EDT
Coz - The advice from SteyrAUG is probably the best advice that you are going to get. The second best advice is the short comment from 1GUNRUNNER above. Both of these guys have first hand experience. I agree that the corporate world sucks. I've been out of it for a long time running my own business. Thank goodness that my wife has a job or it would have been out of business a long time ago. It isn't easy starting a business, but retail firearms sales are obviously among the most difficult. Good luck. HC
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 5:40:04 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/9/2002 5:41:14 AM EDT by JimE2]
In Tyler TX there is a family owned gunshop that is a real treat to visit. The name of the place is called "The Shootist Gun and Knife Shop". [As in the John Wayne classic movie.] the owner, a great guy, former firearms insturctor, and LEO, has many neat items besides firearms in his shop. Lots of old West , WWII and Vietnam era militaria in his shop. His prices are fair, his selection is good, and he specializes in old guns. If you have a chance to get to Tyler, check them out. They are closed on Sat., thats range day for the CCL instruction. When I turned 21, some 15 odd years ago, I bought my first pistol from him. It was a WW2 Luger. I have been buying stuff from him, visiting his shop and listening to his stories ever since. I think its the model of a successful, family owned gun business. The owner once told me that being a gun shop owner is like being a white tobacco plantation owner in South Africa, a tough row to hoe, subect to the whims of the current politics.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 5:56:28 AM EDT
There's a little difference between a grocery store and Gun shop. First off do you know how much local, State, Federal agencies a FFL deals with especially if they have their SOT? The BS paper work and the stupidity you encounter with these agencies is almost unbelievable. As a new FFL/SOT I was lucky to have had a mentor who had been in the business 25+ years and was one of the most respected mfg.’s there is or was. One of the first things he told me when I wanted to become a FFL was " don't think your going to make any money". Now off coarse there is money to be made in the firearm industry but making it at the retail level in today’s world is tough. As a retailer your going to compete with Wally world with standard long guns as pointed out above you can't beat their prices, Imposable. With hand guns you will compete with a huge volume dealer at a gun show (every show has one) these are the guys with no store to pay for and only sell at gun shows and buy at such a huge volume that the chances of you even matching their price at your cost is low. The place where you can make some cash are if you become a mfg. with an SOT and come up with a good product and price i.e. suppressors. The post machine gun business is slowly grinding down due to the ATF, but the suppressor demand seems to be growing. Another niche is refinishing and gunsmithing, but the liability is a bitch on the gunsmithing. Then there's the NFA business some guys charge for a NFA transfer and make some cash others like myself use that to get customers and keep them happy. Selling machine guns, money can be made, but there aren’t allot of huge stock piles anymore where a dealer could buy 20-30 guns for a good price and turn them over, but there is a market for suppressors. The main thing to remember is there’s a reason that there are less and less FFL's in the US every year (from conversations with an ATF friend). And if you open up a business treat people right and they will treat you right. John Oliver
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 6:33:21 AM EDT
After carefully observeing my good friend Brad, Who has had a small town gunstore for 12 years,( He makes a killing $$$)Observeinghis business practices, I offer the following: 1. Small retail space. Brads is 400 sq. ft one wall of long guns(space for 40 or 50) Long shelf underneath for ammo. Small amount of lots of varieties of ammo, includeing very small amount of the oddball calibers( ie: 8mm,.303, 7.62x54r hunting ammo etc. LOTS of popular local hunting ammo. Lots of .22, lots of popular pistol ammo, in the least expensive varietys. 2. Glass display cases(brad has 3) for handguns. He arranged display cases to seperate the public from the long guns. Customers ask to handle the firearms. He politely checks each firearm for (loaded or not)saftey before and after a customer handles it. 3. Buying used guns, Brad makes lots of money on used guns.Treats customers with respect, gives an honest "Blue Book" apraisel, and offers them 75-80% of book, politely explaining tthat he is there to make a profit. Estate purchases, He grades and apraises,includeing the "Cherries and the pits", and makes an offer on the lot of guns, ammo etc. He never "Cherry picks" the lot, however, does not pay much for the POS guns sometimes in these lots.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 6:35:22 AM EDT
I agree with virtually everything that has been said in this thread. I have worked retail and my dad owns a retail business. It is hard work and the hours are long. I would strongly suggest trying to find a part time job in a gun shop on weekends for awhile and see how you like it. Or if you can but still want to do this do it part time (open by appointment or weekends) it will kill the social life for awhile but you will get a taste of it and then if you think you still wanna do it go for it. DONT expect to rake in gobs of cash. BrenLover
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 6:40:20 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/9/2002 6:54:32 AM EDT by 5subslr5]
Originally Posted By longun45: Great idea to start your own business. A few things to consider 1. a business plan grounded with real numbers. Costs, profit margins, and a business focus. 2. it must be very detailed, like numbers of employees, what kind of employees, accounting methods, record keeping. The finished plan is a good guide and will allow for many contingencies and will help you in running a growing your business. IT should include goals for your business, how much you wanna make and realistic numbers. it will tell you when you are making mioney. is there a niche that you can fill better than some one else. what kind of deals can you get from manufacturers. what are they willing to help you with -- consignment inventory? A good business plan will help you more than you know and they take a very long time to write, They are extremely detailed right down to the fixtures and bullets. A good gun shop is a good place, good luck
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I mean no flames but as one who has started businesses that number at least ten the business plan is the beginning - if you don't know enough about the chosen business to do a three year business plan (You' often hear five years but that's a waste of time) you don't know enough to be in the business. Now, look for some small 'unfair' advantage. I don't know what that might be but you're going to need one. Only gun shop within 20 miles (Because you paid off the politicians to make sure this is true.) On the same day you pull the Presidents of ArmaLite and Bushmaster from burning wreckage (And they promise you'll be first in line for every product and will ship free second day air.) You have polaroids of gReed Knight riding in a limo with a Ft. Worth 'sow' and he promises to deliver to you 60 SR-25's per month in exchange for photo-suppresion. What will be your small and unfair advantage ?
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 6:43:04 AM EDT
One of Brads philosophies on priceing, is " I would rather make a little bit of something, than a whole lot of nothing. He orders guns for people, special orders $25, internet transfers $25, all his pure profit after shipping costs. He develops relationships with his suppliers, and wholesalers(Davidsons, RSR, etc) When his orders reach a certain $ amount, he gets free shipping. Brad maintains a want list for his customers, anytime somthing(like used military firearms etc) comes in, they are usually gone, after a couple of phone calls. He has filled his personal collection with almost every type of Colt SAA, and Winchester lever action through the years. Consignments, he charges 15% of selling price, as he says, they dont cost him nothing.Recently he had an estate collection of SAA Colts and Remington revolvers (26, alltogether) come in, and within 4 days 21 of them were sold and gone, at damn near full boat. 15% of those would be a pretty healthy commision!
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 6:56:06 AM EDT
When buying used guns, after looking it over really close, He asks,"what do you want to get out of it. If the stated price is a bargain, and he can make money on it, he buys it immediately, if not, he explains the blue book and offers them 75-80%, politely and respectfully. Of course there are the DMF's who state "Joe so and so offered me $2000 for this CVA Hawkin rifle!" Brads response: "You should have sold it to him!" :) I have been in when people do and say stupid things as well. One of my favorites was a guy came in with a pristine Pre 64 M70, in 270, made in 1949. He was looking at a Ruger P90 handgun, and finally asks,"How much money, with my Remington, for the P90?" Brad tells him "Thats a pre 64 M70 Winchester you have there" Customer states "Its a Remington, GD it! How much $, with the Remington for the P90?" Brad calmly says $200. Guy whips ot $200, does the paperwork and 3 days later, delivers the pistol. on day 5, ATF calls and says "Dont deliver the pistol!" Local Sheriff reclaims pistol on day 7.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 7:02:28 AM EDT
Brad has built a sucessfull gun business, in a small area of about 10,000 people.The next closest gunshop is 45 min away. He sells people riflescopes, and he will mount and boresight them for free. He does everything by the book, and by the law. I admire him, as a businessman, and as a friend. On several occasions he has offered to sell me his business,I think he is reaching burnout.There are lots of different types come through his door, and plenty of people who are mentaly draining. Hope this helps in your quest to start a successfull business.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 10:05:21 AM EDT
WOW! Nice response(s) guys. A couple of points. I do plan to start slow and do the gun show circuit. My bride is quickly falling in love with WW II etc. weapons and memorabilia (on the side). I do understand a biz plan. in the 90's I had a side business and have been through the headaches. Someone said a gun shop is no different from a grocery store..I beg to differ. Guns don't rot on the shelf. That's a huge difference. Texas is a good place due to lack of zoning, but it is competitive. As far as worrying about WalMart, I think Academy will compete with long guns and ammo for them too, but the big difference is you don't have some high school kid that is working part time to pay for gas and extras for his low rider rice grinding Honda CRV working behind the counter. You can have someone that "talks the talk". There is a large dealer in NW houston "Carter's Country" that does have some knowledgeable counter people, and they would be big competitors. I ain't planning on being a billionaire, but I'd rather work 12 - 20 hours a day for myself than for someone else. FFL question: Do you have to have a retail site or can you do it by appointments. Say have a separate building on some property as a storefront? Just testing the waters. As someone said "It's far better to have tried and failed than never tried at all" or something like that. I REALLY APPRECIATE THE INFO, NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE! THANKS! Randy Cosby
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 10:28:13 AM EDT
You can have appointments only. Mombasa Trading Company in Stafford, TX does that.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 4:41:43 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Coz_45-age-caliber: Energizer, NW side is my area residence/Spring/Klein/Tomball..... Cheers
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You're competeting with three places that I know of off the top of my head. Guns LLC (something like that... used to be Guns Warehouse) here on Veterans Memorial, Jim Pruett's on Huffmeister. And Carter's. Carter's (DAMN THEM. DAMN THEM TO HELL) has the hunting market... Pruett and, to an extent, Guns LLC has the military and cop markets. There are several Academys and one Oshman's in the area. May be a tough row to hoe unless you can beat Carter's on convenience and/or price. You could beat Guns on price. You probably won't beat Pruett on price.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 4:51:32 PM EDT
Remember that a gun store is really a "big boys toy store".
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 7:39:04 PM EDT
Maybe a "spy" store with high tech toys and guns-- stuff guys like??? I like this idea better: How about a cooking & BBQ (and fireplace) & hunting gear & gun store, catering to hunters, and the women that will cook for them, as well as anyone who likes to BBQ or have a fireplace... If things get going, host monthly or quarterly BBQs at your store for your customers (send them invitations for RSVP)-- this will build friendships and they will come back to you. anyway, what names are you thinking of? I always liked the one on the Simpson's: Blood Bath & Beyond... but that might be a bit too negative towards the gun industry. *** I don't like this, but you should do it anyway: Don't forget to come up with a policy on firearm transfers from *manufacturer's* directly to the consumer. They will bypass your prices to get a better price, and you get around $20 for the transfer. They basically used you and your storefront to save money, and usually order from your distributors... they can go to a gun show or find other means, but they will not have to if your prices (and customer service) are fair.
Link Posted: 4/15/2002 9:16:32 AM EDT
UPDATE! My bride and I spoke with Jim Pruett on Saturday. What a super nice guy! He went into great detail on getting into the business. He gave advice, offered to hook me up with the right distributors/wholesalers...etc. He obviously is enjoying it. His wife, Joy says he goes in two hours before opening. I cannot tell express how enthusiastic and encouraging he was. Anyway, we are gonna go for it. Coz's Blood bath and beyond? Nope, but I do have some ideas on names. Thanks again for the comments and I encourage anyone to shop at Jim Pruett's on Huffmeister. He deserves our business. Cheers
Link Posted: 4/18/2002 8:35:27 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Coz_45-age-caliber: Thanks again for the comments and I encourage anyone to shop at Jim Pruett's on Huffmeister. He deserves our business. Cheers
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What is the name of his shop, and where on Huffmeister is it? I can't find a listing under Pruett in the yellow pages.
Link Posted: 4/18/2002 6:47:14 PM EDT
A buddy and I tried to buy a gun store once. The woman that owned it up here in Dallas was wanting to get out of the business, so she was willing to give us all the tips on how to make money at owning a gun store.( we couldn't get the loan to buy it, but we were both really young, and the bankers we visited weren't real impressed with our business background.) Anyway her biggest point was that it isn't the guns that make you money. It is the reloading supplies and accessories you sell that make the money. Guns you are lucky to get 10 percent or less. The only way to make more is to be a dealer for a particular brand,(her's was Beretta, so she got a lot of police business.) Whereas the accessories and reloading supplies were more like 50 percent or better. She was turning well over six figures a year net, according to the p and l statments. So don't forget the rest of your sales.
Link Posted: 4/18/2002 7:16:30 PM EDT
I have often thought of opening a firearms store. But the initial cost for inventory seems a large gamble. So My thought is to open an indoor range. Maybe 10 pistol stales and a few rifle. After this is up and going then start to build the Firearms sales part. At any rate good luck. the world needs more personable gun sales people.
Link Posted: 4/19/2002 4:23:58 AM EDT
Link Posted: 4/19/2002 4:30:02 AM EDT
Do a modern store. Most gun stores are stuck in the 70's. Take a look at the lastest store styles & models. I would work hard to make it female friendly. They are a growing share of the market, and most gun shops cater to the good old boys.
Link Posted: 4/19/2002 4:38:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/19/2002 4:41:49 AM EDT by fight4yourrights]
Originally Posted By Energizer: *** I don't like this, but you should do it anyway: Don't forget to come up with a policy on firearm transfers from *manufacturer's* directly to the consumer. They will bypass your prices to get a better price, and you get around $20 for the transfer. They basically used you and your storefront to save money, and usually order from your distributors... they can go to a gun show or find other means, but they will not have to if your prices (and customer service) are fair.
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This is an issue, but also an opportunity. Almost anyone transferring a gun through you will need accessories, and that's where your profit lies: 1. cleaning kit 2. ammunition (how about an assortment pack so they can test for accuracy) 3. magazines 4. slings 5. optics 6. bipods 7. spare parts (make your own kits - your experience & expertise will show through) You could probably anticipate some of this stuff and buy it as you see a transfer coming in. I helped a Korean guy get into AR-15's a couple months back. All he knew is that he wanted one. I tried to explain variations and options, accessories and such. He didn't/couldn't make decisions. Finally, I just went through the store and picked out what he needed. A lot of people can't/won't/don't make decisions. They like it simple. Look at the black powder kits that just include everything you need. You could do the same. Have some starter packs (basic, deluxe, etc...): example: Deluxe (?) AR-15 starter pack: - Otis cleaning kit - 150 round assorted ammunition pack - magazines - 2 20's, 2 30's - CLP bottle - extra cleaning patches - 4 bandoleer kits - safety flag - front sight tool - ear muffs & plugs - glasses - pack of sight-in targets Something like this.
Link Posted: 4/20/2002 7:56:21 AM EDT
Jim Pruett's Gun and Ammo 11101 Huffmeister 832-237-4867 www.jimpruett.net It's north of 290 on Huffmeister. He's getting my business from now on due to his friendly attitude and general principles.
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