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Hey guys, other than my gun posts, I know you guys don’t know too much about me.

I will have the opportunity to work with a small regional brick and motor gun related business to help them better understand their business strategy among other things.

I have 25 years in corporate strategy and sales for a F500 company.

I am reaching out to you guys because I would like to find out what you get you to buy more (guns, ammo, etc) from a brick and motor business rather than online.

Sure, I know price is always an issue, but what else?

If you are like me, you fondle guns in stores, buy a combination of online and offline and almost exclusively buy ammo online unless you are “stuck” and just need a box of something.

What do you see as some of the industry best practices? What are some of your most favorite things that you enjoy about shopping experiences. What gets you coming back?
 

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1. Knowledgeable staff who know what they are talking about instead of giving opinions or trying to sell the trend.
2. Military/first responder discounts.
3. Frequent buyer discounts.
4. Customer service main priority instead of sales and a unhappy customer who via word of mouth will make you lose major business.
5. Sell collectables.
 

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Don't be adverse to selling interesting trades, and don't send everything off to Gunbroker.
BTW, my 15 year old Jeep sounds like it has a brick in its motor, but the 4 liter sixes all do that. :eek:

Moon
 

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Yep, buy guns locally (except this one time) and ammo online.

My preferred place to shop for a few reasons:
1. They're close
2. Great Service
3. Great prices
4. Gun range
 

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Have interesting guns, and priced right.


This past year, I've purchased four "non-mainstream" handguns from Texas brick and mortar stores.


NIB Stainless Desert Eagle Mk-XIX 50AE (Modern Outfitters, Dallas)
NOS/NIB Para-Ordnance GI Expert 1911 wideframe 14-45 (Frisco Gun Club, Frisco)
2 NOS/NIB Walther P5s (Cabala's, Ft Worth & South Texas Gun Works, Austin)


That Austin location is an hour drive one way, had a NIB P5 priced @ $1200 + tax, worked it down to $1100 out the door. Worth every minute of the 2 hr drive IMHO.
 

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What would get me to buy more from a brick and mortar store? Well, several things:

Price is the biggest thing, if you want me to buy a gun at your store rather than online, meet or beat the online prices.

#2 Product diversification. The box stores here all sell the same makes and models.

I get it, any gun store is going to have Glocks and M&Ps, but when it comes to things like 1911s - all they have are a ton of Kimbers and Sigs, a few Springfields and Rugers - but no specialty brands or variety of calibers. No reason to stop in and see the same products over and over again.

What brings me into a store? Used guns. I can predict what new guns they'll all have pretty well, but used guns are always a mystery - and I'm a sucker for a particular style of pistol at a fair price. :D
 

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Interesting point on the used guns....

Would you say that you purposely swing by your local retailer just to see what they have? That makes sense.

What if you were in a mailing list that shot you en email whener there was a new arrival.....used or new? Woke rhat be too much Email and annoying?

This business is a full service type of place. They have multiple locations. All have ranges. All have classrooms. Gun rentals. Holsters, etc....and ammo.

Their gun prices are generally pretty good. Lower than the Cabela’s but generally higher than the best possible deal you can find online. That’s a problem for any brick and mortar store...they have overhead.

But they do offer $50 in free range passes for every gun purchase.

They also have onsite gun smiths too but they are usually very backed up.
 

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I stop into several local gun stores every few weeks, looking for new arrivals and trade-ins.


Some (like Central Texas Gun Works) get a call each month, for an update on new arrivals/trades.
 

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A couple things that annoy me when shopping for a gun at a typical gun shop -

A salesperson with little or no people-skills. One that acts like they are way smarter than you and are rude or condescending. Happens a lot.

Guns and supplies at list price. Everyone knows "list" price isn't relevant anymore. I don't mind paying a bit more at a store than I would online, but when they have most items priced at list I stop looking.

Crazy prices on used guns I know they bought at a steal - that is - about the same, or more, than you could buy it new online.

At one local gun shop you can't even get a salesperson to notice you so you can look at a gun in the case. I attended a "special event" recently where there was one guy at the gun counter, and you could tell he wasn't exactly ambitious. There were a couple guns I would have liked to check out, but left after waiting unnoticed for 3 or 4 minutes.

A nice, clean, bright, well-run range that is reasonably priced with an attentive Range Officer. As a former Range Officer for a large shooting club I often feel the need to step-in and correct unsafe practices - but I'd really like to just concentrate on my own shooting.
 

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Don't be adverse to selling interesting trades, and don't send everything off to Gunbroker.Moon
My shop has just started putting what would have been GB guns in the case. They are holding pretty firm on prices as they do know what those guns will typically bring at auction. At least we have them to sell to our regulars. We are also getting ready to launch a VIP membership which will offer discounts, no waiting for lanes, and other goodies.
 

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I think there are different demographics of gun buyers and some overlapping interests but some interests are exclusive to each group. The most basic differentiator I can think of are the extremes of new buyer, "What's a good first gun?", and the collector, "I saw that on GunBroker for 50% less!" But even within the range of these two extremes, there are hunters, target shooters, collectors, self-defense types, preppers, mil/LEO, wannabe mil/LEO, competitive/sport shooters, etc.

People will always want low prices, but most can accept "fair" prices. Everyone wants good customer service, but they don't want to pay or wait for it. Convenience, good product selection, useful knowledge but not "know-it-all" pushy sales, etc. The specifics will depend on knowing the customer and catering to them. A first-time gun buyer might appreciate a safety class, free eye/ear protection, a box of ammo or free hour on the range. A Walther collector might appreciate a heads-up that someone just consigned a rare PPK, etc.

If you had the market data for the region to understand who the customers are, the stores could then cater to them. Another strategy could be targeting some niche markets such military-style (AR trends ebb and flow), competitive shooting (lots and lots of gear, gunsmith customizations), hunting (seasonal), a gun exchange for rare/collectible or great discounts/trades.

You could also consider creating a customer base by offering free classes/clinics where people could meet like-minded individuals, ask questions and discuss without sales pressure. Classes such as beginner's guide to home-defense firearm, concealed carry, intro to competitive pistol/rifle/shotgun, basic firearms maintenance/cleaning, collectible/historical firearms showcase, etc.

For repeat customers, a loyalty program could be a good way to show appreciation and retain them. Special discounts, pricing, that's competitive to online prices as these are probably the volume shooters who will be familiar with online guns and ammo shopping. Cost of entry must be low, free, $20 for lifetime, make $300 purchase annually, etc. The customer shouldn't feel like the cost of membership is somehow paying for the discounts.

I think in this day of mass-market (Cabela's, Bass Pro, etc), I would appreciate personalized service. The trick is how to mass-market personalized service!
 

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...Price is the biggest thing, if you want me to buy a gun at your store rather than online, meet or beat the online prices.

#2 Product diversification. The box stores here all sell the same makes and models....Used guns. I can predict what new guns they'll all have pretty well, but used guns are always a mystery - and I'm a sucker for a particular style of pistol at a fair price. :D

Two good tips. Quirky,odd, or old things are fun and interesting.

Unhappily, a local shop tends to ask top dollar for trades in their inventory. They treat me a little better; they've seen enough of my money. :rolleyes:
Moon
 

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Staff that are not complete morons.
Staff that do not condescend to even the least informed customer - even if its not me but its in front of me.
Staff that treat woman like they're real people.
No weird rules - like no loaded weapons in the store (I Carry for a reason).
Hours that don't make me think they think they're a bank.
No weird hidden fees.
When they can't find a weapon offering $0 transfers for that specific weapon in to the buyer to build rapport.
A place to sit down and look at materials.
A FIRING RANGE.

Clean bathrooms (seriously!).
Ongoing activities that aren't ONLY for the tacticool idiots.
FREE meeting space for organizations like Pink Pistols (that doesn't impact me directly but it does give me a sense that they're supporting our community).
Someone, anyone, on staff that isn't dressed all in camo.
 

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To a degree that we seasoned shooters likely don't realize, rookies are often intimidated when they explore the shooting sports.
Our gun club tries to be sensitive to this, as should shops.
One of the stunts shops will pull is to foist harder to sell guns to the clueless. A gal showed up at our range with a .40 something-or-other. The shop told her it was 'better' than a 9mm.
Moon
 

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I am pretty knowledgeable about guns and have a larger collection of upscale firearms. I do not expect the staff in a gun store to have more than a basic knowledge about guns but be courteous and good sales personnel, being honest and fair.

Unfortunately, any half-way-good salesman will not accept a job below $65,000 p.a. and the profits are just not there.
 

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After ready all of these posts I've come to the conclusion that my LGS is one of the best there is. But to answer WaterDR's question the main thing I look for is an attached shooting range. Preferably one with a large selection of rentals.
 
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