There are two types of gun shops near me… the ones for the local rednecks, and the ones that are there to take money from the rich Republican retirees here. The local redneck stores don’t know crap*. The rich people’s gun stores know a lot about rich people’s guns. There are, however, two good gun store/range combinations near me: One of them I refuse to deal with because of their crooked, crooked ways, and the other is one of the best shops in the business. It’s not only making a living, but thriving, and they’re looking to open up a second shop in the future. It’s clean, well-lit, has good retail branding and a 15 lane air-conditioned range that goes out to 25 yards.
This situation reminds me of the old days of the computer industry, where there was a Bits N Bytes Shop (or some other cheesy name) store in every strip mall, run by local people who were into computers but not into business, and they spoke the language of computer nerds. Then Computerland came along, and because they were first and foremost a business, they spoke the language of business, and they sold a metric buttload of computers to businesses.
It’s worth noting that with advent of a more computer-literate workforce, even the Computerland model has gone away**, and companies are either have their own IT departments and buy direct, or they outsource that to the same kind of mom and pop shops that were around in 1983. The big computer store didn’t kill off the local Bit Shop: Those stores survived by nibbling away at the edges of the bigger market for information technology.
For the last 10 years (maybe even the last 25 years, since the AWB…), the only marketing a local gun shop (and for that matter, gun makers as well) have had to do is just say “Look, it’s in stock… You wanna buy it, or what?”
The stores that are thriving are adapting to a new market. The ones that don’t adapt are goners.
* To give you an idea of how little they know, I had one good ol’ boy behind the counter tell me that an FN FiveSeven was “an AR-15 you can carry around in your pocket.”
** From the linked Computerland story above: “(computer) Retailers still are amateurish enough to consider themselves competitors … They are just too immature to realize that they’re complementary, not competitive.”
That pretty much describes today’s retail gun market as well…