A Gun Store For People Who Don’t Own Guns.

Apple didn’t come up with the Apple Store concept because their retail channel was booming: They came up with the idea for the Apple Store because retail SUCKED for them.

Now, a lot of that suckitude was Apple’s fault: Their product line was confusing, with multiple product lines with features that overlapped from one product line to the other. Retail sales agents struggled to explain why the Mac was worth paying a little more for, and Macs sat unwanted on store shelves as Intel-based PC’s were sold on the basis of clock speed alone.

So Apple tried a “store within a store” concept* at CompUSA (remember them?), and it failed miserably. Having a store of Apple products within a store of Wintel didn’t create a brand, it concentrated all the Apple products in one area where they could be ignored by salesman hell-bent on selling the Wintel machines that they knew.

The salespeople in CompUSA were computer people: They sold the computers that they used, which could be radically different than what the consumer wanted. Apple flourished in retail only when they were able to create a lifestyle brand for themselves versus the hobbyist owner that typified computers up until then.

The salespeople in gun stores are gun people: They sell the guns that they like, which can be radically different than what the consumer needs. They sell guns on both rational arguments, like why 9mm is a better self-defense cartridge than .380 ACP, and irrational, emotional arguments as well, like why Glock is better than S&W**, neither of which is particularly focused on the customer’s needs.

The digital hub concept and the ease of use of the Mac are what made Apple a lifestyle brand, and Apple sold that lifestyle inside a store that reflected who we wanted to be, not who we were. People who weren’t nerds were welcome, because rather than reorganize their life around their computer, they got to experience*** how a Mac could fit into their lifestyle.

That hasn’t happened yet in firearms retail, but it will, and the company that does it will dominate the consumer market for the next twenty years.

* SIG tried a “Store Within A Store” concept. Didn’t work, for much the same reasons why it didn’t work with Apple.
**Both are pretty much equal now. Admit it, Glock fanboys.
** Disney theme parks call their employees “cast members”. There’s a reason for that. Gun stores could learn a LOT from Disney stores on how to extend the brand into retail.