The 5 "W"s (And 1 "H") of Visiting Your Local Gun Store, Part 1
- Joey Upper
The local gun store is a sometimes strange, often wondrous place. It’s an amazing way to get your hands on products you might be interested in but can’t normally reach, and often their used inventory is unbeatable in diversity and price — I’m a sucker for antiques, myself.
We’re going to take a moment or two and break down the “Who,” “What,” and “When” of visiting your local gun store. Maybe we can help you with your next trip!
Who- Who are you about to be dealing with? Is this a gun store you’re familiar with? A firearm salesman you’re familiar with? If not, have you read reviews on the store or heard about it from friends? This kind of information is vitally important to ensure you get the best for your money without ticking off your local small businessman. I’ll give you an example:
Two of my favorite local gun vendors, William and John, both own small firearms businesses, but operate them in very different ways.
John is an estate sale specialist, often with the majority of his firearms inventory being antiques. He exclusively sells used inventory. He prices his used inventory high intentionally- he’s one of those guys that doesn’t consider a sale a good deal unless he’s haggled for at least a quarter hour.
William is completely different. His inventory is smaller, and tends to be evenly split between used and new inventory, where he specializes in modern, affordable firearms and optics. When William sets a price on a piece of used inventory, he has set it as low as he can while still being profitable. If you bring him cash, he might be able to let you out the door for the tag price — that’s about as good a cut as you can hope for.
Both are perfectly valid ways to run a business — there’s nothing wrong with a little haggling, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with starting your prices low for the sake of your customers. However, if you approach one as you’d approach the other, you’re either going to overpay or offend a small businessman who’s already doing his best. Those are both real people, by the way, and I made the aforementioned mistake both ways before I realized I needed to prepare myself a little better — so there’s no judgment, here.
Homework is going to be your friend.
What- This one’s easy — What do you want? What are you hoping to get out of this trip? Is it ammo? Is it a rifle sling and case? Are you finally able to pull the trigger (ha!) on a new optic? Are you getting a new firearm? Do you want to raid the used firearm collection for a gem? Do you want to just shoot the breeze with the owner during a slow hour?
These are all absolutely acceptable reasons to check out a local gun store, and you can have more than one reason to go — but know why you want to go if you value your budget.
If you don’t care about your financial well-being, well, I wish you Godspeed and good hunting.
When- When are you planning on buying your intended product? Is this an immediate purchase, or are you laying some groundwork for a purchase or two down the road?
If you’re doing some on-the-ground research, it’s often a good idea to mention it to the salesman/owner. They might be able to help you anticipate future sales or updated models coming down the pipeline you may not yet be aware of. Plus, if you’ve got something you’d like to have in a month, you might be able to order it through them, minimizing the threat of whatever item you’re looking for being out of stock.
Have fun, and be prepared! We will be here shortly with the second part of this series: Where, Why, and How!