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Hey Guys,Im gonna be opening a gun shop here in the great state of Maine,Im debateing on inventory,should I stock more new guns or used ones?I know you can buy new ones at the big box stores,but I would like to carry atleast one line of new stuff,Im leaning towards Savage,what do most of you guys look for when you visit your local shop?
 

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Personally I'm a guy that has bought more used guns than new, in fact most of the guns that I have are used. It seems to me you get a lot of guys that buy a hunting rifle and hardly use it and turn around and sell it for whatever reason. But then again you have to have new guns for those guys to buy and bring back for you to resell. (twice the profit) Savages are great guns but you can buy some of them at Walmart, they seem to be everywhere. Good Luck with your store.
 

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Both, I like cool old stuff and shiny new stuff... Hopefully your new shop does well!
 

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I like to take on light projects with old guns, and I like to see value, and classic models for sale. I would say that a shop with more used than new would be to my liking, but some new will obviously have to be included. Best of luck to you, and know that guys like myself are fighting hard to keep it an open road for all of us.
 

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Keep a good stock of both new and used guns on the rack. Do a little research in your community to find out what the preferred brands are before you choose. Sometimes gun brand loyalty seems to be a regional thing....if you're in Remington country you dont want to be a full line Browning dealer or visa versa if you know what I'm saying.

What ever you do keep your used inventory moving. Make a living but price guns to move, dont just sit on them. Guys aren't going to want to come in and see the exact same guns in the used rack that were there 2 months ago and are still $150 or more too high in price, if thats the case theres no reason to come back a third time.

Just my take on it. Good luck in your business venture, live the dream. You've got a bigger pair than I do to start a business based solely on discretionary income in these economic times. I wish you success.
 

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Nawth East Moderatah
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Where will you be in Maine? I could hop over the border:D
 

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You have to have a few new models,your basic utility hunting guns that are popular in your region.I'm a prowler however,It's hard for me to pass up a gun shop! And the first place I head for is the used rack.Some of my favorites are those that have been used but decent shape,might need a little work but thats what makes it fun.
 

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while i love savage rifles..walmart is gonna be able to sell them so cheap your mark up will be just about nothing..you might do better with something they don t carry..
 

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Good choice on your trade.I would think about 70% new an 30% used. Ther will be trade in coming.Tryed to get a shop going in Va. but they won't have home gun shops any more.
Good Luck Keep Me posted on your venture:D
 

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Here's my 2 cents. I was in the retail and wholesale firearms business from '70 to '03. I worked in retail gun shop and for a gunsmith part time in high school for 4 years. when I got out of the service I opened my own shop on a shoe string budget. It was a struggle for 3 years. I watched the business change as the big retailers ate into the small retailers profits. A small shop can survive by finding a niche in the local business. I was primarily a wholesaler Ruger being my bread and butter as well as most all other firearms and accessories manufacturers. The retail profits in new guns are marginal at best. the Internet has greatly leveled the playing field (profits)in this area. People shop more and can do so from their home. there will always be a "cellar dweller" gun shop owner who will give the merchandise away just to make a sale. (never could figure out why someone would sell items at nearly 0% profit when it wasn't necessary, and there are a lot of them)I found in my particular instance that used guns, as most dealers know is where the profit is. But, you first must know the used gun business and it can't be learned by looking at a "blue Book". Right now gun sales are up most everywhere thanks to Obummer, and profits are good because some firearms and accessories are in short supply. the real profits are in the accessories. scopes, cases, mounts, holsters, etc. My shop had a "do you want fries with that" sales policy. the sales people had to try to tie in accessory sales with every firearms sale. To rely on profits from firearms sales alone is a recipe for failure.
Service....are you a gunsmith? Not a kitchen sink hacker with a screw driver and a work bench, a knowledgable and trained gunsmith or can you hire one? If this were to be my sole source of income. this would not be the business I would try to start in this econonomic climate. With one exception, I believe that a small gun dealer can make a good part-time income by taking his business on the road i.e. gun shows. I did 30 -45 shows a year. Some were geared to promoting the wholesale business and some were strictly used high end focused on the retail market. To be competitive in that business, again, you must know the used business.

There is a fine line between being having too much new and having to tell a customer that I don't have it in stock but I can get it. I used to have dealers that kept very little new in stock but relied on wholesalers like me to maintain inventory and order as needed. gun customers tend to be hands on people. If it's in front of them they are more likely to buy.
I was always a believer in maintaining a healthy inventory of new stuff,(variety don't put all your eggs in one basket, you might feature one brand but a little taste of the other brands won't hurt), that was in demand rather than special ordering. Trades will naturally follow the new gun sales. Having a reputation of having lots of "stuff" at fair prices, good service and knowing what you are talking about usually spells success.

I could go on for a long time and I do not want to discourage you from trying but you must know that it is one of the toughest businesses to be successful in even on a small scale. I haven't even touched on overhead expenses. If you know the down sides to this business the upside is a lot easier. Remember when you get that FFL and your home is the designated place of business, you potentially put it at risk. You didn't say if you were opening this in your home or a separate brick and mortar store. ATFE has access, if you screw up, the yellow tape is around your house not a free standing incorporated shop.
I am retired now and I still enjoy shooting and hunting but I do not miss the 60-70 hour weeks or the road trips loading and unloading the truck at shows. I do miss seeing my customers they were great people and they paid my bills for many years.
I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. It can be very exciting and rewarding starting a new business.
 

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the possibility of taking used guns on consignment for a commission. In the Denver area, consigned used guns are common in the small stores, but not in the large retailers. The commision seems to be about 15% up from 10% a few years ago. Some guns on consignment are sometimes consigned with some leeway in pricing by the store. If some of used gun inventory is on consignment, it frees up your working capital for other inventory. I understand the sale of accessories (such as ammo, scopes, shooting glasses, targets, gun cases, etc) along with a gun can substantially increase profits as the markups can be higher. Good luck in your new venture.
 

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There's a new shop that recently opened that I pass on my commute to work. I stopped in to check it out and the guy has very little inventory of anything. For example, he had exactly two types of smokeless powder (the two he personally uses) and only a few bullets for one or two calibers.

He said he wasn't sure what would sell best so he was waiting to see what customers requested. In the mean time, he could get anything you wanted within a week. The problem is, I pass another gun shop on my commute. So my inclination is, if I need something, I'll just stop at the place that's more likely to have it. In fact, I haven't been back to the new place because I'm sure he won't have what I want.
 

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IrvS mentions consignment sales, they are definately a part of the used gun business. I know dealers that it constitutes a fair portion of their used business but these dealers are primarily selling high end collectables or high grade shotguns etc. 10-15% of 5k-20k is a whole bunch better than 10-15% of 350$. One of the problems that arrises over consignment is the owner wants way more than than the gun is worth. They see a price in a Blue book or an auction and think theirs is worth the same or they attach too much sentimental value to grand pa's Thutty-thutty. It has to go on the rack at a price / value commensurate with condition and prevailing trends. I always insisted that there be some bargain leeway in the price as no wants to pay the tagged price on a used firearm. I gave most guns 3 months if it wasn't gone by then it went back to the owner. Stale merchandise isn't good for anyone. Trades on consignment are something that some dealers won't do. I did, if I thought the item coming in on trade was potentially a quicker sale than the consignment. The consigned gun was moved and I now had something that was likely a higher profit item.
 

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Maybe I'm too out of date to be taken seriously but I'm going to submit my thoughts, since you asked.

I worked in a gunshop in Michigan for a whole lotta years. We had a store in Detroit, Union Lake, Oakland County and Marquette. That pretty much covered a huge chunk of a hunting state. Each store location saw a need for different types of firearms. The main store in Detroit sold a lot of handguns and high end longarms, both rifle and shotgun. Colt and Smith & Wesson in handguns, and Winchester, Browning and Remingtons in the long arms. Each store was unique in it's clientele. The Upper Penninsula store sold a lot of Winchester 94's and 88's and 100's. Remington 740's and 760's.

Let the locale tell you what to stock. No point selling Weatherbys if you're only shooting 50 yards. I would stock Win M70's and Rem 700's and Ruger 77's. Charge a fair price for you and the customer. Plan on getting trade-ins. These people aren't rich, they work for a living. Welcome the trade-ins. There's more profit in those too. If you are a gunsmith, plan on hiring a knowledgeable sales clerk. If it's the other way around then hook up with a reliable gunsmith. Stand behind your sales. If a customer has a good experience with you, he'll tell two other people. If he has a bad experience he'll tell ten.

Stock a line of quality scopes. Stock the most used ammo and include a few boxes of stuff that's not gonna fly off the shelves. Different calibers gets the customer to thinking, to dreaming, to fantasizing. Don't get too diverse in accessories.

And take a course or two from your local Community College in marketing and retailing. If it's a small shop, have a pot of coffee on. Pick up a couple dozen donuts on the way in. Advertise and promote. Have a raffle or a drawing every month. Promote the shooting sports. Perhaps a shooting club. Get a reputation for being honest. Don't bull**** the customer. It'll just come back to bite you on the butt.

It's not gonna be easy, you'll never get rich. But you'll make a decent living and meet a lot of new people and have a lot of fun.

If I lived out there you'd be seeing a lot of me. Especially if I knew I was welcome and could brouse unmolested. When I want help, I'll let you know.

Good Luck. We need more like you. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Wow,thats alot of food for thought.Thanks to all that replied,Ill will keep all of your advice at an arms reach.Maby Ill see some of you in the shop if your ever in Maine.Just an FYI there gonna be building a CASINO just down the road,so if any ever visits make sure you look me up.Thanks again for all the advise,It will help a great deal in my decision makeing.
 

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First...as another Mainer, best of luck! :) Where's it to be at? Might have to make a drive. :)

As for inventory...carry what the others don't. Depending on your area, see what other dealers within your driving area carry and carry something different. Don't go too budget level but don't go too high end either. Quite a few shops spread around so it could be tough. A lot will depend on your area as well. What the more popular interests in local shooting clubs? Once ou get more established maybe take a chnace on something completely new to most folks - a different brand or a different type (think bolt action pistols for example) Gotta get your niche.
Biggest mistake I see new shops make is going into it thinking it's a lucrative business and that because they are selling guns, they know it all about them all. Offer what you know but don't be afraid to admit what you don't. Too small of a state to let bad press spread which amongst the long established dealers up here, it spreads quite well. Not a market to make enemies with competitors or customers.
If do decide to use a specific distributor for most all your stuff, see what they deal with mostly as some deal in some makes but not others and vice versa. Keeping loyal to a distributor can pay off when the allocated models are of interest but don't discount other distributors for stuff.
Again, best of luck and have fun with it! :):)
 

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Well If I ever get to that section of the Maine wood, I'll surely stop in! ;)
 
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