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So You Think You Know How to Run Your Local Gun Store Better…

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    So You Think You Know How to Run Your Local Gun Store Better…

    So You Think You Know How to Run Your Local Gun Store Better…

    By Marlon Knapp

    Many gun buyers bemoan their local gun shop (LGS) without much knowledge of how they actually operate. Come with me for an inside look at some of the challenges faced by your LGS owner . . .


    Laws and regulations
    The scope and breadth of Federal firearms laws are intimidating to say the least. I could type a thousand word article on just the laws, regulations, and rules for firearms retailers and still only scratch the surface. A misstep can potentially expose the LGS owner to large fines (think $250,000 or more) and prison time of 10 or more years.

    Getting licensed
    Applying for your license means you are inviting the ATF to inspect every aspect of your life to ensure you are a person they will entrust with the responsibilities of procuring and selling firearms. The application includes the fee ($30 – $3000), several sets of your finger prints and a passport style photograph taken within the past 6 months. Once your application is received it is reviewed and your background check is conducted (currently takes about 2 months). Once you pass that you get a visit from ATF compliance agents who interview you to ensure you are going to actively engage in the business and are not simply looking to build your personal collection via dealer pricing from wholesalers. Those agents will explain how to conduct business and evaluate your facility and business plan.

    Security
    Supposing you did not build a new building, how are you planning to secure your investment? Which alarm system and monitoring companies’ will you use? Cameras and recording (on site hard drive or cloud storage) are another consideration. What about physical security for your employees? Will you allow/require employees to be trained and armed, or will you hire armed security or a combination of both? Hardening of the exterior to prevent or at least slow down a potential after-hours break-in. Will you store your firearms on the shelf or move them every night into safes or a vault? Side note, we suffered a break-in once, it took the burglars 59 minutes to pry the door open but only 62 seconds to smash our display cases and make off with 34 handguns and one stripped AR receiver. We now move our inventory into vaults at closing. However, the old adage “if you build a bigger can the thieves will bring a bigger can opener” is true.

    Insurance
    This is a big consideration for your LGS. Most American insurance companies do not want to insure gun shops so we mostly are required to purchase what are called “excess lines” insurance. My current policies are underwritten by Lloyd’s of London. You will need building, inventory, liability, and workers compensation insurance at the least. An average policy will have a $2,500 deductible and should you suffer a loss (like a robbery or burglary) your deductible will rise to $10,000 for at least one year after the event. As an aside, should you suffer a loss insurance will only pay (minus the deductible) your actual cost of goods and repairs, not their value. Other things that can raise your insurance requirements include, Gunsmithing, firearms instruction, buying/selling used merchandise, manufacturing and selling reloaded ammunition, and having a shooting range.

    Employees
    Fact: FFL’s (Federal Firearms Licensees) are only allowed to use the FBI NICS system to check the ability of a person to purchase a firearm at the time of purchase. We are not allowed to run a “pre-purchase check” and unbelievably, we are not allowed to use it to screen an employee prior to hiring them. You will have to purchase a background check from a willing local law enforcement agency or find another way of vetting your potential new hires.

    Inventory
    This one is BIG for every retailer but it seems like an even bigger mine field for those of us in the firearms industry. We all have a finite amount of space and (normally) a finite amount of capital to work with. Additionally we have to choose which wholesalers to work with, which manufacturer’s product lines to carry and which individual products to stock. Some manufacturers (Colt, Kimber…) require the retailer to maintain a minimum inventory to be allowed to use the term “stocking dealer” or even be allowed to carry those products at all. Kimber requires a “Master Dealer” to purchase a set dollar amount of product up front and a smaller amount each year. Colt requires the retailer to maintain a minimum of 20 of their firearms (no, you can’t just carry the cheap stuff) in stock at all times. This has caused many of the wholesalers to stop even offering their products, as the burden to most retailers (mom and pop shops) is too great. Want to carry reloading supplies? Good luck with that. Reloaders, (myself included) are notoriously picky about the components they use. You don’t have Winchester 231 powder? Fine, I’ll buy it and all my other components somewhere else. What about accessories? There are millions of choices depending on the market segment you want to attract.

    Hours
    What hours are you going to be open? What hours are your employee’s available? What hours will maximize your profit potential?

    Feeling overwhelmed yet? I didn’t even touch on bookkeeping, record retention, pay scales/job roles, utilities, taxes, local ordinances, other licenses, additional government alphabet soup agencies, unions, dress codes, ethics, banking regulations, point of sale systems, janitorial, operating procedures, dealing with prohibited persons, belligerent customers, shady characters, local law enforcement, hang arounds, and a host of other considerations.

    So the next time you walk into your LGS and want to tell them how they should run their business, may I politely suggest that if you think you have the answers, by all means open your own shop and show them how it’s done.

    Marlon is owner of Knapp Weaponry in Wichita, Kansas. He discovered the shooting sports and firearms at the ripe old age of four, thanks in part to his Uncle Rich, a Nebraska State Highway Patrolman, and Nebraska Game Warden. Marlon is former military, and current NRA and Kansas certified firearms instructor.

    http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/201...merman/397937/
    Pat ------> NRA Endowment Member

    #2
    After reading that a huge plus one goes out to all our local gun stores. I had no idea what kind of headaches they deal with from day one and on a daily basis after that. smh.

    Thanks for posting this.

    Comment


      #3
      Waaaa

      Comment


        #4
        There is a lot more work behind the scenes that customers will never see. Its a tough business.

        Comment


          #5
          I never had a hankering to own a gun shop.
          My retirement plans include being the old bastard that hangs around the shop offering unwanted comments to anyone within earshot about what they're looking at, how I used to have one just like it and I'm sorry I sold it and just basically interfering with the owner conducting business.
          I excel at eye rolling and sideways glances.
          So, if you hear of anything be sure to let me know.
          A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.

          - Rudyard Kipling

          Comment


          • Idiocracy
            Idiocracy commented
            Editing a comment
            Bensons is always hiring

          • Southshorerob
            Southshorerob commented
            Editing a comment
            I will never pay that guy no never mind again!

          • NRATC53
            NRATC53 commented
            Editing a comment
            You do that now...

          #6
          Still not seeing a reason to treat a customer like an asshole.

          Comment


            #7
            If you love what you do, then you never work a day in your life...
            "Except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall God governs in the affairs of men. I have lived, Sir, a long time..."
            Ben Franklin, arguably our least faith driven founding father

            Comment


              #8
              In the short time I worked at CGT I tried to be professional and personable no matter how much of an asshole the customer really was...like the one's who pointed loaded guns at me, told me they just got their license and were buying a gun today and then took 2 hours to decide that after all of our recommendations they still wanted to talk to their buddy who got his license a couple of months and just bought a used Glock 19 on Gunbroker. Even the ones who asked for things that didn't exist, were illegal in NYS, were just looking for some tre deuce, didn't know they weren't allowed to handle a firearm without a license, walked in the door as we were locking up or were in the parking lot before we were open and especially the ones who felt it necessary to point out that they could get it cheaper online.

              Comment


                #9
                Originally posted by roadraje View Post
                In the short time I worked at CGT I tried to be professional and personable no matter how much of an asshole the customer really was...like the one's who pointed loaded guns at me, told me they just got their license and were buying a gun today and then took 2 hours to decide that after all of our recommendations they still wanted to talk to their buddy who got his license a couple of months and just bought a used Glock 19 on Gunbroker. Even the ones who asked for things that didn't exist, were illegal in NYS, were just looking for some tre deuce, didn't know they weren't allowed to handle a firearm without a license, walked in the door as we were locking up or were in the parking lot before we were open and especially the ones who felt it necessary to point out that they could get it cheaper online.
                Oh crap.
                That was you?
                A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition.

                - Rudyard Kipling

                Comment


                  #10
                  There is no difference between this and running any other business (including the possibility of jail time for violations). I am in the food business and one recent story saw two owners of a manufacturing business receive 28 and 14 year sentences for comitting food safety violations. Every business has reguations that must be followed and the regulatory climate is getting worse every day. Every day, FDA is slamming food businesses for violations. Inventory ? - virtually any business has to manage inventory and we all see customers, even long time customers, go 'across the street' for the slightest reason. Overnight ? - every jewelry store has to safeguard its display every night. We are all firearms fans so any 'insight' into running a gun store is interesting but I see nothing here that is any differnt from any other business except the 'mystique' that it is a "gun store".
                  Last edited by Engineco54; 05-15-2016, 07:56 AM.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    My family had a sporting goods store from the 1880's to the 1970's. This store carried everything from Bait to boats and motors, Ammo to guns to hunting clothing. My grandfather was a gunsmith who could make anything from scratch. It was always a challenge dealing with some customers. The article doesn't really mention having to stock up on certain items to insure a supply for your customers, especially seasonal stuff. While we didn't have the Internet to deal with, mass merchandisers were a problem as they would sell items for less than we paid for them.
                    Take a young person shooting.... Take 2 or more if you can...

                    Comment


                    • Wuggzwest
                      Wuggzwest commented
                      Editing a comment
                      That's some signature you have on the bottom of your post. Pretty fascinating considering I wasn't the person who said that. Someone created an account with my "LIF user name" and made that obnoxious post.

                    #12
                    If that's the case, it will be deleted. Should have just pm'd me
                    Take a young person shooting.... Take 2 or more if you can...

                    Comment


                    • Wuggzwest
                      Wuggzwest commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Honestly, I don't have a computer. I'm on here via cellphone and I'm still trying to figure out how to operate the site. Every time I try and PM I post on the persons profile wall I think lol.

                    #13
                    It's all good, working on it now


                    ....and it's gone
                    Last edited by NRATC53; 05-15-2016, 11:48 AM.
                    Take a young person shooting.... Take 2 or more if you can...

                    Comment

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