I've been in the gun industry since 98. Cut my teeth selling Ljudic and Parazzi. Graduated to Smith 5, 4 , 3 screws, Colt SAAs, and Lugers. Sold shotguns that cost 60 grand, and I spent all of my ample commissions on wine, women, and song.
Having said all of that, I'm trying to prove that I'm not some weirdo in their Mom's basement.
The gun industry is HARD. Manufacturers deliver half baked product that breaks on consumers. Dealers make a living on 10%. Counter jockey's are hired to fill a spot and take an order because they can't be paid what they deserve on shit margins.
I have a simple solution. ALL FFL holders join together and refuse to do transfers. REFUSE. I liken it to Wal-Mart destroying main street. We dropped our pants and let them fuck us. Guns are a consumer durable. Making $30 on a Shield is bullshit.
I get where you are coming from. However, I disagree. To me, the issue is not online gun sales via auctions, or online equipment sales, or even semi wholesale companies selling guns online. It simply is that everyone wants a good price. To them the value is not in the service of a store, but the physical object of the firearm. Why pay a man 30% over cost when in reality the market has set the price at only 10% over cost. It does not compute for most folks.
We live in an age where technology has driven the wholesale and retail side from shipping to distributors, to shipping from distribution centers, to drop shipping from manufactures. The Firearms industry is still set, much of it via regulation, on shipping to distributors. The industry is 75 years behind the times. Want proof. Accu-sport built a 5 million dollar warehouse around two years ago. Where are they now? Some places like lipseys, buds, cdnn, ect have made the jump to acting as distribution centers. Even that is 30 years behind the times. Even if the industry changed and it moved to FFL's being drop ship from manufacturers, those manufacturers would have to make some drastic changes in pricing structures. The Teirs that are currently available really only help if you are a 100 million dollar buyers group. Other than that you have to basically deal with one of the distributors a manufacture sells too, setting you as a second tiered system. It is stupidly thought up given today's technology.
To some degree, Sig is doing it right. yeah yeah, half-baked beta tester guns bullshit aside. Sig has slimmed down their product line, makes special runs for people with the power to buy, builds innovative products, and interesting sku's of older models. Where they fail is their stuck on the same distributor system from 1960's. In the 2000's sig went to dealer only for a short time, those packages ran 26k IIRC. Who the hell does something like that to small shops. I know of few small shops that can dedicate 26k per package to one manufacturer without taking from potential products of others. It is the same kind of pricing scheme as MLM.
I don't know one maker, maybe SCCY or bond arms, that fits the new model of internet better. I see the industry changing, old distributors only staying open by becoming drop shippers, which puts a stranglehold on that smaller ffl's not in a buyers group. I see buyers groups strangling those distributors by demanding closer to wholesale from the manufacturer pricing.
The system will shift, it is on the verge of a radical change. There will be a place for smaller FFL's (anyone under 5mill in sales a year is small) How will it work out, i do not know.
One word: Disintermediation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disintermediation
Not a new word. what you describe has been happening for years. The markets will evolve and head on attempts to stop, or slow, do not work.
You mentioned Ljutic and Perazzi. There are two shops within 60 miles of my home: one carries Ljutic. the other carries Perazzi. Both seem to be thriving as is a third shop that carries Kolar and Zoli. All three shops focus on shotguns, all three carry other brands, all three are well stocked and all three have a strong local following and a good internet presence. The common aspect of these shops? They evolved their business model to adapt.
Thank you for the new word.
|On the DL|
I do not understand.
I log on to SIGforum, see a used gun for sale by a forum member. It's just the gun that I have been looking for.
Are you saying that the seller of this used gun should not be able to ship it to my pawnshop guy, for transfer to me?
A mind is a terrible thing.
Appreciate your situation but that's the cost of the internet and modern tech- communication - business model. Toys-R-Us is the most recent high public example.
To refuse to adapt - the book "who stole my cheese" comes to mind.
I wish there was a good way for our local gun shops to make more money. I personally don't have the answer. I will say that about 95% of the new guns I buy are through one of two local stores but there are times they just cannot find what I need (want) through their distributors, and I'm way too impatient to wait forever on a gun that I can find myself very easily online. I give them a lot of business throughout the year though, so there's no hard feelings. I also have them sell guns for me on consignment sometimes, and they get their cut.
Pretty much every dealer in this area charges $35 for a transfer. I think that's fair, especially considering they don't even have to run a NICS check if you have a pistol permit in Alabama. I'm in and out in a few minutes. Even considering the record-keeping requirements, I think it's a good deal for them. Most of the transfers I ask them to do are for used guns though.
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
Failure to adapt = extinction.
My favorite transfer FFL just does transfers (or 99% transfers). $20 a pop, plus background check fee. They always have a handful of cheap best sellers in the case (G19, G43, Ruger LCP, HiPoint or 2, plus some cheap AR lowers) but they do 300+ transfers a month. $75-100K of straight profit with zero capital on top of their other business (performance auto parts).
Sorry your business model sucks. But if it’s failing, it sucks.
My translation: The current owner should sell it to a dealer, who will pay him/her below value for the gun. Then the dealer will sell it to you for more than value, because dealers have overhead and are in this as a business and need to make money and shit.
That's my take.
Thanks to the internet people are more selective in what they buy. It's not just Billy Bob going to buy a .30-30 off the rack, people know the exact model of firearm they want, and not a substitute. Shop staff will offer a "we can order that no problem," but so can the shopper. They can find a place with it in stock and have it shipped to them best price, without worrying about their order sitting in limbo for months. Historically gun shops have lousy, slow service. This causes the shopper to just do the work himself. What gets me in a shop repeatedly is a large selection of out of production used firearms, with constant replenishment. No doubt it's hard to run a gun shop, but honestly most shops don't deserve to stay in business.
True for the majority of the shops I've been to.
The monopoly is over. Gun Buyers have knowledge and opportunities they didn't. Time for gun shops / gun dealers to add value.
Personally I'd pay a premium at a good local gun shop since money isn't everything. But short DJ's Pawnshop none of the local dealers offer anything other than price markups.
Most shops don't even want to do an FFL transfer. It's like they're driving themselves out of business.
The butcher with the sharpest knife has the warmest heart.
|On the DL|
Follow-on to Vosherkoff's post: With rare exceptions, my experience as a customer in local gun stores is pretty bad.
Sales people who are arrogant, do not know their product, do not want to make the slightest bit of effort.
There is a fairly large dealer / gun store here in Florida, with multiple locations. I walked in on a weekday morning. I was the ONLY customer on the sales floor in this fairly large store. There were at least a half-dozen sales people visible, having conversations among themselves. Every one of them was aware that I was standing at a counter. Not one of them would make eye contact with me, not one of them walked over to ask if I needed help with something. After a few minutes of this, I left, went to my office, and found what I wanted, online.
Any business that antagonizes customers, like this, deserves to fail.
A mind is a terrible thing.
This x 1,000.
With the exception of one, every single gunshop sucks. I do not need to pay a 20% or more premium to a gun shop for some douche bag who knows less about the gun than I do to speak condescendingly to me.
I know nothing of your business, and you likely don't fit the above mold, but that has been 90%+ my experience.
PS the gun shop walking distance from my house refused to take a transfer in that I was buying for $200.00 less than their sale price. I said fine, split the difference with me, you make some money from me instead of zero, I buy local and help a local business. They said nope, buy at our list price or find someone else to receive your online purchases. I've not bought anything from them since. So you may want to reconsider your boycott of transfers, others might think like me.
A couple SIGs and a few others
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
Sounds like a mistake to me.
Should have invested in internet firearms sales, then you'd be rich?
I can relate to this exact story,bought many guns at this one shop,last year in the area I stop in,walked the whole shop,looked at several display cases,that huddle of employees never looked or spoke to me.
I suppose I looked too poor and in my old work clothes .
|There is a world elsewhere|
A.) Nobody, I mean NOBODY, makes guns like they used to even 20 years ago.
B.) Nobody shops for guns like they used to do
C.) Nobody sells guns like they used to do.
Like RHINOWSO said small shops that make it are specializing in transfers because if they don't, some other guy will.
Another store nearby does reloading as their specialty with some traditional sales (used and new) and transfers, but reloading is their bread and butter. If you need powder or primers NOW, they have it usually.
A buddy of mine used to work for a liquor retailer and his passion was for wine. They had promised him a store manager position, but never followed through, so based on his knowledge of the industry and relationship with distributors, he went into business himself.
He knew that most larger liquor stores want to buy a sizeable stock of a vintage of wine, whiskey, etc., so they can keep it in stock and get return supplies.
But wholesalers often have small numbers of a vintage leftover in their inventory that is too small for the larger liqour chains to want to buy since they'd run out and it competes with other vintages/brands for floor-space/storage. Plus, since nobody wants it, he gets it at discount.
So, my friend opened up a storefront in a strip mall. It is literally a bunch of 4x4 posts with 2x4 braces and green plywood as the shelves. It is dark, dusty and cool. He keeps it cool and dark. AND he buys the leftover vintages that are rated really high, but too small for any chain store to buy. 20-30 boxes are about the size of his standard purchase. It is just this whole in the wall store that was storage place for the strip mall.
And he has a thriving business because his customer base knows he ONLY stocks good stuff that nobody other competitor has AND it is only around for a limited time. He can sell a wine rated 90pts in Wine Spectator for $5 whereas the chain store, with it's overhead costs, cannot sustain that.
Find a niche, dude.
A well balanced breakfast being necessary to the start of a healthy day, the right of the people to keep and eat food shall not be infringed.
Do you think that if Radio Shack, Circuit City, or probably Best Buy could have built a business on charging $30 to deliver you a TV from Amazon that they would have taken it? I do. Transfers are a zero risk, zero overhead deal. If the industry is only getting 10% over cost, taking $25-$35 to transfer a gun that would have made $50 or $60 as an inventory item seems like a decent proposition.
I wonder if long term this is better for the home-based guys.
I personally don’t care where you buy your products from because as others have said $25-35 for zero out of pocket expense sounds like a win... what I don’t like is people dodging sales tax by purchasing online then bitching and complaining about lack of money in schools, streets, etc...
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
In the end, the successful FFL transfer dealers I have dealt with are mostly just in that business (primarily transfers) AND they have great communication skills.
For example, my main shop calls me the day a firearm comes in - if I don't answer, they leave a message - from that point in can be days or a couple of weeks until I come pick it up.
And when I arrive, there is a stack of 4473s on the counter - if they are busy with their other business or customers, you just start filling it out, pull out your ID, and they'll bring you the firearm you bought. In short order they let you look at the weapon while filling out there portion of the paperwork and doing the NCIS check (online or sometimes call). They take payment as they are writing the approval number down and wishing you a great day. In and out in 10 minutes unless NICS is backed up.
Time spent is maybe 5 minutes receiving, logging, and storing the firearm and 10 minutes transferring. So $80/hr for zero capital in the product, although they do have some FFL costs to spread out over the year but in the end it's not much considering the number of transactions GOOD transfer dealers do.
None of my transfer dealers are 'regular gun stores' and none of them would "stop doing transfers" so the large brick and mortar LGS could have a captive audience for their over priced inventory of finger-banged guns, all while listening to some of the worst firearm advice available from the staff (coupled with a good dose of conspiracy about the nebulous 'upcoming BAN of guns').
Despite my harsh words, I'd say 10% (or less) of my firearm purchases have been online. Most of them have been from DJ's, one of the very few old school gun shops left in the area. I doubt that many shops could raise the capital to have as many guns as they do on the shelf. The other way is to market to your local buyers. Find out what the local competition scene is and stock for that. Host first time buyer and CCL classes, with a smattering of things to buy. If nobody around sells high end glass, corner the market.
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