The Key Quote

The Key Quote

From an article I linked to earlier today:

“Acting on Jobs’ vision, Macs were setup as task-oriented workstations. Each part of the store would be dedicated to different tasks.”

Have you ever, in your entire life, walked into a gun store where guns and accessories were laid out by TASK, rather than by caliber or manufacturer?

Me neither.

Imagine walking into an electronics store where all the Samsung appliances… TV’s, washers, cell phones, you name it, were lumped all together.

And yet that’s exactly what store after store does in gun retail.


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

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.

Rebuilding The Levee.

Rebuilding The Levee.

Yes, I saw that NICS checks hit an all-time record on Black Friday this year, but given the deals that were out there, like $250 Bushmaster AR’s and free tax stamps on some suppressors, I’d be surprised if there WASN’T a run on guns this year.

But are profits up in the firearms industry? Well, no. Ruger’s profits are down, sales at Smith and Wesson are slowing, and Remington is an a world of hurt. Pretty much the entire firearms industry bet on a Hillary Clinton win last year, and now channels are overstuffed with distributors urgently trying to get rid of merchandise and gun store owners looking at even-tighter margins on guns.

What happens when things get back to “normal” and AR’s are no longer selling for two and a half bills? What happens when the driving force behind firearms purchases isn’t price or availability of product? From 2007 to 2016, gun sales were easy: All you needed to say was “It’s in stock,” and it sold, and this year, sales were driven on price and pent-up demand from the Obama years.

What happens next year, when features and perceived value drive demand, and gun companies are forced to move product with marketing?

Do they even remember how to do that?

And yes, a good portion of this post is based on a conversation I had with Michael Bane late last week. I’m not being lazy, I’m recycling and re-purposing content from another medium! So there!

Hog Wild.

Hog Wild.

Whole Hog

Michael Bane brought up an interesting idea on last week’s podcast: Hog hunting, specifically eradicating feral hogs in the Southeast, has saved the sport of hunting in the U.S.

And he’s probably right.

Getting into hog hunting is really easy, especially for people like me who are middle aged and have never hunted. As I’ve said before, it’s actually easier for my wife and my kids to get into a regular hunting training program than it is for me to get into one.

However, getting into hog hunting is actually pretty easy: I snagged an evening’s trip awhile back to help me evaluate a cheap little IR sight, and there’s two-day classes on hunting hogs available near me as well that I’ll probably take advantage of next year.

And then there’s the simple fact that hogs are an invasive species, and blasting them into oblivion is like fishing for lion fish or hunting for Burmese Pythons: Yes, it’s hunting, but it’s hunting that tries to restore the balance to the ecosystem, and even the most fervent of tree-huggers understands that getting rid of invasive species is a good idea for everyone.

So go out and blast Wilbur into oblivion, and do so knowing that not only are you restoring balance to the environment, you’re also creating an on-ramp for generations of hunters to come.

And organically-grown, free-range, antibiotic-free bacon is just icing on the cake.

Upcoming Training: Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian.

Upcoming Training: Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian.

The Contextual Handgun

REALLY looking forward to this one, for a couple of reasons:

It’s the first class I’ve seen out there that tries to put what we learn on the range into the context of our everyday lives. Pretty much every class taught to armed citizens teaches us techniques of shooting a gun, but then leaves it up to us to figure out how to apply said techniques to our lives once we’re done with the class. It’s like learning what the gas pedal is and what the brake pedal does, but not learning when to speed up in traffic and when to slow down. John and Melody are the first people I’ve seen to bring firearms training into the real real world we all live in, rather than trying to bring firearms training that works in downtown Fallujah onto the streets of downtown Detroit*.

The reason for all of this, the reason why I’m taking classes and learning to shoot and writing about it and all of this, started with my desire to protect my family. ALL of this stems from that desire, and I’ve been trying for literally a decade to find a firearms training class that acknowledges that we are not in it alone, that there are other people out there who we care for and want to protect. I’m not a cop on the street, it’s not my job to chase down bad guys. It’s my job to help keep my family safe, and yet no one until now** has designed a firearms training program based around that simple idea.

* Granted, downtown Fallujah is probably safer than downtown Detroit, but you get my idea.
** Yes, I know, there’s an “Armed Couple” class at GunSite and whatnot. That’s not what I’m talking about here, we’re talking about one person having the means to defend their family, not everyone being armed.

Kinda Proud Of This One.

Kinda Proud Of This One.

I was somewhat amazed at the lack of useful neutral information out there about what to look for in a suppressor. Yes, I understand that it’s still a niche market compared to most other firearms markets, but the suppressor business is booming, even if suppressed guns aren’t.

My new article at Shooting Illustrated on what to look for in a suppressor should help you figure out what you want in a suppressor while we wait for Congress to collectively grow a set and make these safety devices easier to acquire.

And if you are waiting to buy a suppressor until the HPA or SHARE Act or some other law to pass that removes the tax stamp and paperwork makes it through Congress, don’t. Both of those bills have provisions for refunding the tax fees from the past few years, so if/when they pass, you’ll get your money back, and wait times for stamps are finally falling, with the possibility of them falling even more next year.

I also wrote something about the Deadfoot Arms folding buffer system, which is not a bad little gadget to have if you’re looking to shorten the overall length of your AR and still be able to shoot it.

Go read them.

Lessons From A Walmart Parking Lot.

Lessons From A Walmart Parking Lot.

There was a guy who went to a Walmart with his family late last night around 10 o’clock. We’ll call him “Kevin.”

Kevin noticed as he was getting out of his car that there was a young gentleman in his mid-20s going from row to row, looking around at the cars.

Kevin then watched as said gentleman met up with two more friends and all three started a conversation in an end of the parking lot away from all the cars.

Kevin had been shopping at his Walmart for almost three years now, and knew what the clientele looks like and how they act. This gentlemen looked different and acted different than what was the norm for this establishment, and seeing how it was late in the evening on Black Friday, (a busy shopping day for us, a busy work day for thieves), Kevin decided to walk his family to the door of the Walmart, then told his wife to go shop for Christmas ribbon with his sons, and said that he would meet up with them at the front door of the store when they were done.

Kevin then stood around by the front door, flashlight tucked out of the way in his hand, keeping an eye on the young gentlemen as they continued their conversation in the parking lot and eventually walked off the premises of Walmart.

Kevin then waited for his family, walked with them to their car and drove off.

Was Kevin unusually paranoid? Maybe. Did Kevin inconvenience his family by acting this way? Not really. Did Kevin put himself in a position to keep his property safe when a hinky situation presented itself?

Most definitely.

Update: Someone asked on Facebook what “Kevin” (me) would have done if the gentlemen in question started opening car doors. I’d call 911, and start about writing down details of dress, height, hair color, etc. so I would get them correct for the cops. If they opened up MY car door, I’d hit him with the beam of my flashlight and ask them what they were doing and then we’d go from there (which would also probably end up in me calling the cops).

‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple.

‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday of the year, because it’s the only holiday on the calendar that is focused on the people around us and the generous gifts we all are given.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13 

See you next week.