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Thread: Opening a gun store in Graham Puyallup?

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    Regular Member DevinWKuska's Avatar
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    Opening a gun store in Graham Puyallup?

    So my wife and I are considering opening a gun store in Puyallup/Graham area. I dont know anyone with and FFL and I had some questions if any of you are familiar with FFL process

    #1 To get a FFL you need to already have a store front, and have it inspected. This seems risky when opening a brick building since if you dont get the FFL your locked into the lease. Any suggestions?

    #2 To get into a building lease alot of places are asking for a copy of my business permit. Which I cant get until I get an FDL which requires an FFL.... which requires me to already have a store front.

    #3 why do you shop at the gunstore you do? Is it location? Selection? Customer service?

    #4 I was hoping to put out OCDO flyers should I open a store. Do I need to get permission to do so since I would be a business? Or Is the material open to distribute however the members of OCDO see fit?

    #4 What kind of handguns do you like to see Gun shops carry? I was thinking Full line of SPringfield, Glock and maybe Kimber.

    I am not sure if this is the right spot for this thread but I am sure the Moderators will be nice enough to move it, if it is not. I really appreciate any insight or advice thanks!
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    Regular Member j2l3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DevinWKuska View Post
    So my wife and I are considering opening a gun store in Puyallup/Graham area. I dont know anyone with and FFL and I had some questions if any of you are familiar with FFL process

    #1 To get a FFL you need to already have a store front, and have it inspected. This seems risky when opening a brick building since if you dont get the FFL your locked into the lease. Any suggestions?
    I can find no mention in the instructions on the BATFE website for an FFL application that says anything about having a store front. Your business can be in your house for all they care, as long as it's a legitimate business and you don't mind if they come to your house to inspect your books or business. City/county/state do they require this? BATFE doesn't.
    Last edited by j2l3; 08-27-2011 at 12:57 AM.
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    Regular Member OrangeIsTrouble's Avatar
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    Offer local price matching and inexpensive FFL transfers. You got to compete with marys and the other gunstore in tacoma. You need to be the speeeeeshow.



    Low prices are lower profit margins, but when word spreads and more and more customers come to you, more profit in the end.


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    Regular Member DevinWKuska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j2l3 View Post
    I can find no mention in the instructions on the BATFE website for an FFL application that says anything about having a store front. Your business can be in your house for all they care, as long as it's a legitimate business and you don't mind if they come to your house to inspect your books or business. City/county/state do they require this? BATFE doesn't.
    Take a look at the application.
    http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5310-12.pdf
    The FFL is for the location not the owner. Such as stated on the BATFE site that if you have another location it will require a separate FFL. SO the FFL is kind of like a business license it is site specific. Also the application is asking for the address. I suspect they do this to make sure it is in compliance with local and state zoning requirements/laws.

    If I am reading this wrong please let me know. But I have been digging through alot of BATFE and WA business codes and thus my assumption(but we all know what happens when I assume>.<)
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    Regular Member amzbrady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DevinWKuska View Post
    Take a look at the application.
    http://www.atf.gov/forms/download/atf-f-5310-12.pdf
    The FFL is for the location not the owner. Such as stated on the BATFE site that if you have another location it will require a separate FFL. SO the FFL is kind of like a business license it is site specific. Also the application is asking for the address. I suspect they do this to make sure it is in compliance with local and state zoning requirements/laws.

    If I am reading this wrong please let me know. But I have been digging through alot of BATFE and WA business codes and thus my assumption(but we all know what happens when I assume>.<)
    Have a good selection of holsters so that your buyers can walk out open carry.

    My biggest grief when buying a firearm is that I am not able to put one on in a holster to see how it fits. I am not able to fire one from a holster to see how it felt. It doesnt sound like you will have a fireing range, just a store. I would like to find a range / store that has a big selection with rentals that I can try, and with holsters I can wear, It is alot different drawing from a holster than loading on a small table and picking it up and firing. I would have never bought my taurus had I known that no one makes a good retention holster for it. I didnt do my homework.

    That being said, Good luck in your adventure, and the biggest reason people dont even try to succeed, is for the fear of failure.
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    Regular Member DevinWKuska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amzbrady View Post
    Have a good selection of holsters so that your buyers can walk out open carry.

    My biggest grief when buying a firearm is that I am not able to put one on in a holster to see how it fits. I am not able to fire one from a holster to see how it felt. It doesnt sound like you will have a fireing range, just a store. I would like to find a range / store that has a big selection with rentals that I can try, and with holsters I can wear, It is alot different drawing from a holster than loading on a small table and picking it up and firing. I would have never bought my taurus had I known that no one makes a good retention holster for it. I didnt do my homework.

    That being said, Good luck in your adventure, and the biggest reason people dont even try to succeed, is for the fear of failure.
    I appreciate your feedback. Is there anyone against Blackhawk holsters? I find they are god retention and seem to come ina wide variety of pistols without compromising low price.
    As far as indoor range goes.... my wife and I have considered it but would like to start the store first then add a firing range later. The startup cost of a gunstore is tremendous and retrofitting a building as a indoor gun range at this point is cost prohibitive(ballpark of $15,000), If and when we do open a range I had considered having a rental "copy" of every pistol I would sell. I agree with you that sometimes people feel better ab out a purchase if they can take it for a test drive so to speak.
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Issue is Business License, not Storefront

    A condition of an FFL is compliance with all State and Local laws. It is possible to be a "kitchen table" FFL as long as you have the appropriate business licenses. Many communities will not allow "gun dealers" in residential areas so unless you have an alternate location you are screwed.

    Don't overlook the State Business License as well as a business license from your local government if they require one. Not only will you have the "nose of the Feds" up your rear end, you'll also have to "bend over" for the State too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenIsFaster View Post
    Offer local price matching and inexpensive FFL transfers. You got to compete with marys and the other gunstore in tacoma. You need to be the speeeeeshow.



    Low prices are lower profit margins, but when word spreads and more and more customers come to you, more profit in the end.
    Well, that's not "exactly" how retail works. You have to maintain a reasonable profit margin, and you can't make that up by volume, especially in a small "mom and pop" type shop. Guns are actually low margin products and where many, if not most retailers make their money are in accessories, ammunition, etc. and SERVICE.

    Remember this, though. The economy right now is a train wreck, but even with that, FIREARM and AMMUNITION sales remain strong, particularly with certain brands. I've been writing about the industry for a long time, and the healthy gun sales when everything else is in the toilet is amazing. You can check with the National Shooting Sports Foundation about this (www.nssf.org) and if you do open a shop, you will definitely want to consider becoming a member of NSSF. They're the industry association and a great resource for tips on how to succeed in this business, where to cut costs and where to boost your bottom line.

    Good luck if you launch this venture!

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    Campaign Veteran Bookman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DevinWKuska View Post
    I appreciate your feedback. Is there anyone against Blackhawk holsters? I find they are god retention and seem to come ina wide variety of pistols without compromising low price.

    Blackhawk holsters are good; there's no disputing that. Just try finding one for Tanfoglio, Bersa, Ruger, EAA (American version of Tanfoglio) or, really, any of the less expensive brands. They aren't there. My suggestion is to carry Blackhawk, but be sure you carry holsters to fit ANY handgun you sell. Then, make sure you have a wide variety available.
    Last edited by Bookman; 08-27-2011 at 11:12 AM.
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    Regular Member SnarlyWino's Avatar
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    What makes my favorite gun shop my favorite is friendly and knowledgeable staff. There are too many gun shops in my area with ass hats behind the counter, either old and cranky or young and arrogant, so friendly customer service should be the obvious top priority.

    My favorite shop does not stock everything, but can usually get what I want if they don't. Don't fall into the trap of trying to stock every make and model you think your customers might want, but make sure they know that you can get what they want when need be. That being said, don't overlook Ruger in your handgun lineup.
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    Regular Member amzbrady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bookman View Post
    Blackhawk holsters are good; there's no disputing that. Just try finding one for Tanfoglio, Bersa, Ruger, EAA (American version of Tanfoglio) or, really, any of the less expensive brands. They aren't there. My suggestion is to carry Blackhawk, but be sure you carry holsters to fit ANY handgun you sell. Then, make sure you have a wide variety available.
    Or try to find one for a Taurus PT111 Millineum Pro 9mm.

    Quote Originally Posted by SnarlyWino View Post
    What makes my favorite gun shop my favorite is friendly and knowledgeable staff. There are too many gun shops in my area with ass hats behind the counter, either old and cranky or young and arrogant, so friendly customer service should be the obvious top priority.

    My favorite shop does not stock everything, but can usually get what I want if they don't. Don't fall into the trap of trying to stock every make and model you think your customers might want, but make sure they know that you can get what they want when need be. That being said, don't overlook Ruger in your handgun lineup.
    I agree on a Great staff, knowledgable staff. I stopped going to Marksman because of their condescending attitudes. I dont like businesses where the workers act like they are better than you. Attachment 6759

    Maybe a low FFL transfer charge of like $25 bucks so if someone buys a gun online (if you cant pricematch the deal they are getting), at least they will be in YOUR shop looking around at other things before and after the transfer.

    Oh and I almost forgot, "A 10% discount for all those who open carry" Attachment 6758
    Last edited by amzbrady; 08-27-2011 at 12:38 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by amzbrady View Post
    Or try to find one for a Taurus PT111 Millineum Pro 9mm.



    I agree on a Great staff, knowledgable staff. I stopped going to Marksman because of their condescending attitudes. I dont like businesses where the workers act like they are better than you. Attachment 6759

    Maybe a low FFL transfer charge of like $25 bucks so if someone buys a gun online (if you cant pricematch the deal they are getting), at least they will be in YOUR shop looking around at other things before and after the transfer.

    Oh and I almost forgot, "A 10% discount for all those who open carry" Attachment 6758
    +1
    and 10% for military, law enforcement, firefighter's, or members of opencarry.org

    Also, try to become glock-sponsered (or w.e. it takes) to offer the military pricing on glock's...i personally won't buy a glock from a store, unless they can get me the military pricing.

    accessories are huge, maybe having holster's people can try on before they buy.
    Think about if you are going to only do hand gun's or if you will offer long gun's as well, if so, do you want a large variety of long gun's?

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    Regular Member amzbrady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justman1020 View Post
    +1
    and 10% for military, law enforcement, firefighter's, or members of opencarry.org

    Also, try to become glock-sponsered (or w.e. it takes) to offer the military pricing on glock's...i personally won't buy a glock from a store, unless they can get me the military pricing.

    accessories are huge, maybe having holster's people can try on before they buy.
    Think about if you are going to only do hand gun's or if you will offer long gun's as well, if so, do you want a large variety of long gun's?
    And if so, you'll want to be able to offer accessories. Attachment 6767
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    [QUOTE=Justman1020;1600474]+1
    Also, try to become glock-sponsered (or w.e. it takes) to offer the military pricing on glock's...i personally won't buy a glock from a store, unless they can get me the military pricing.

    I for one would support a store, but having owned a gun store (1975-77) in Montana, with the more lax requirements at that time, I would never do it again. Too much political interference.
    And I would not own a glock if you gave it to me, and..... that goes for Kimber also.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Do you have a detailed business plan? If not, can you make one?

    Do you have 200-400k to invest in this venture?

    Is your credit rating excellent (as in, can you get a large business loan)?

    Can you go 1 year (min) without making any profit?

    Can you go 1 year (min) without making enough to cover expenses?

    Have you managed employees before? (specifically, hiring, firing and training)

    Are you totally anal retentive about organization and paperwork? (ATF records requirements are a killer)

    Do you have any experience running a small business?

    Are you experienced with sourcing and ordering products from vendors? (deciphering sales agreements, gauging stock needs, etc)

    Do you have a good business lawyer, and a good CPA?

    Can you get a website built, with an online store, and maintain it? (not needed, but highly advisable) Do you know how to do basic SEO?

    Are you prepared to get a large commercial insurance policy, as well as a large personal umbrella policy? (little Johnny might get killed with a product you sold).

    Are you prepared to earn far less per hour than you could make working for someone else? Translation: you'll work so many hours per week that the per hour compensation is very small. If you don't put in the time, your business will likely fail. Even if you hit the 5 year mark, if you don't keep putting in the time your business will decline.

    Have you researched the failure rate of this kind of business?

    Have you analyzed your nearest competitors? What makes them good, bad, guess at their costs, and gross sales, etc. Literally, stake them out, watch from across the street for a couple weeks to see how many people stop by, how many people make purchases, etc. Be sure to bracket that around common paydays, so you can when people generally spend there.

    Have you done any market research to determine a location that seems to have a need (i.e. a large enough pool of potential customers in your target demographic). There are direct marketing tools you can use to help determine this (age, family size, income, etc).

    Have you ever made a marketing plan before?

    It's a hard road you propose to walk down. Good luck.
    Last edited by Dave_pro2a; 08-27-2011 at 05:19 PM.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amzbrady View Post
    Maybe a low FFL transfer charge of like $25 bucks so if someone buys a gun online (if you cant pricematch the deal they are getting), at least they will be in YOUR shop looking around at other things before and after the transfer.Attachment 6758
    Last I heard, state gov now requires collection of sales tax on the full purchase price of transfers.

    This will likely help local FFLs with new gun sales, because now that low online price at Bud's or CDNN has an extra $50+ of tax added on, above the transfer fee.

    http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?p=2771251
    http://www.xdtalk.com/forums/xdtalk-...l-weapons.html
    http://www.brianenos.com/forums/inde...owtopic=112310
    Last edited by Dave_pro2a; 08-27-2011 at 05:34 PM.

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    Unhappy

    Either having one in house, or outsource to a competent gunsmith would be a bonus. Make it easy for the customer to submit the gun for repair or upgrade, and real important, get it done when promised. And get it done right.

    Maybe have some example trigger or sight jobs where customers can feel and see the difference between stock guns and tuned ones. These are high value, high margin services that will keep 'em coming back.

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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_pro2a View Post
    Last I heard, state gov now requires collection of sales tax on the full purchase price of transfers.

    This will likely help local FFLs with new gun sales, because now that low online price at Bud's or CDNN has an extra $50+ of tax added on, above the transfer fee.

    http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?p=2771251
    http://www.xdtalk.com/forums/xdtalk-...l-weapons.html
    http://www.brianenos.com/forums/inde...owtopic=112310
    Depending on where the tax is collected it could be almost 10%. Looking for a Dealer in an outlying area can save a few bucks. An example would be picking up the firearm in let's say Lynnwood, were the tax is 9.5% or in unincorporated Snohomish County where there is no city local option tax or transit district tax and the Sales tax is almost 2% less at 7.7%.

    The tax is paid at the rate where it is collected or the work is performed. I have to go through this exercise (without compensation from the State I might add) for a small business every month.


    As for working on a small margin, just don't forget. That "small profit" has to pay for the costs associated with the business. There is a B & O tax that for many businesses represents from 1% to 2% on ALL business revenues, not profit. Add the business licenses, Insurance, etc. The whole idea of "you can make it up on volume" is somewhat laughable unless you have a business the size of Wal-Mart. Considering that a small "kitchen table FFL" probably doesn't get the best prices available makes it rather senseless to expect big discounts.

    As Dave Workman pointed out, it's the add-on's and accessories that will make the profit, regardless of business size.

    Does anyone here remember the last time you bought tires for your car? All the "extra's" they tried to sell you. Even that little valve stem for $2.50 was necessary to their bottom line (it only cost them about $0.15). Then there is the Wheel Balnace and Alignment that you just absolutely needed. Add another $40 for the Balance (4 wheels) and $40-$75 for the Alignment. The tire store made more on the "extras" than on the tires. Same for Guns.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

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    Regular Member DevinWKuska's Avatar
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    Do you have a detailed business plan? If not, can you make one?
    Working on one now. They are long and complicated GDI!!
    Do you have 200-400k to invest in this venture?
    I have the intrest of some investors. Not saying they will or wont... but it helps
    Is your credit rating excellent (as in, can you get a large business loan)?
    I have been researching Business loans and small biz(under 500k) Requires less then a car loan. Its almost scary.
    Can you go 1 year (min) without making any profit?
    YesCan you go 1 year (min) without making enough to cover expenses?
    I am working on that now, but I dont suspect that will be a problem. THe Firearms market hasnt shown any negative sideffects from the current economic situation. actually just the opposite. Ammunition and assault rifle sales are outstanding.Have you managed employees before? (specifically, hiring, firing and training)
    Yes sir! Managed a Gas station. and helped a friend start 2 businesses
    Are you totally anal retentive about organization and paperwork? (ATF records requirements are a killer)
    No.. but my wife is!!
    Do you have any experience running a small business?
    YesAre you experienced with sourcing and ordering products from vendors? (deciphering sales agreements, gauging stock needs, etc)
    Yes
    Do you have a good business lawyer, and a good CPA?
    I need to get the FFL,FDL, Business license, FInancing, and a store firstCan you get a website built, with an online store, and maintain it? (not needed, but highly advisable) Do you know how to do basic SEO?
    My wife knows a website guy who owes her big time.. I will just milk him.
    Are you prepared to get a large commercial insurance policy, as well as a large personal umbrella policy? (little Johnny might get killed with a product you sold).
    The insurance for 1.5million isnt that expensive.
    Are you prepared to earn far less per hour than you could make working for someone else? Translation: you'll work so many hours per week that the per hour compensation is very small. If you don't put in the time, your business will likely fail. Even if you hit the 5 year mark, if you don't keep putting in the time your business will decline.
    Hourly pay $4.50.... Being your own boss and running the company the way you see fit.... PRICELESS!!!
    Have you researched the failure rate of this kind of business?
    Believe it or not I cant find ANY failure rate in business statistics. for Firearms dealers.

    Have you analyzed your nearest competitors? What makes them good, bad, guess at their costs, and gross sales, etc. Literally, stake them out, watch from across the street for a couple weeks to see how many people stop by, how many people make purchases, etc. Be sure to bracket that around common paydays, so you can when people generally spend there.
    I have looked at the competition(really there is only Marksman, Welchers, Surplus ammo, and Marys) Marksman is only one within 25 miles and most of their customer base is people who find that shop the closest to their residence.Have you done any market research to determine a location that seems to have a need (i.e. a large enough pool of potential customers in your target demographic). There are direct marketing tools you can use to help determine this (age, family size, income, etc).
    Pierce county seems to be the area in need lol. But no really, All three competitors (Surplus ammo is parked outside a military base... no competition) Are usually busy becuase their are no alternatives. I have seen more then moderate mark ups on items and the idea of customer service seems to be lost to mose of them.Have you ever made a marketing plan before?
    Nope.

    It's a hard road you propose to walk down. Good luck.[/QUOTE]
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    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Add to your list:

    Do you have a "hook" planned for your business?

    Of those you have named, at least two have them. Marksman has their range. Mary's claims 300 Pistols on hand to choose from. Both of those require a substantial investment. The range for equipment (bullet traps, target handlers, air handling equipment, BP glass, etc) and the store for inventory. 300 pistols at an average of $400-$500 per means $120K-$150K for pistols. If you want to sell rifles you'll need inventory there too only they average twice that. What about scopes that can range from $500 to $3500 for those "Assault/Tactical/Sniper Rifles. And then the "Bacon and Egg crowd, the Hunters?

    There's a gun shop near me that doesn't have a bolt action hunting rifle in the place. They're struggling to keep the shop going yet stock only Glocks, a couple of AR variants, and some low end hunting scopes.

    As part of your business plan don't forget the market study. Who lives in your area, who will your customers be, what are they currently buying, and how can you get them to buy those things from you. Be prepared to spend some money on that information from Commercial Sources. Just guessing can be expensive. Just a dumb thought but it wouldn't be worth your while to open a store if most of the people in your market area either hated guns or were felons and couldn't buy one legally.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

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  21. #21
    Regular Member amzbrady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amlevin View Post
    Add to your list:

    Do you have a "hook" planned for your business?

    Of those you have named, at least two have them. Marksman has their range. Mary's claims 300 Pistols on hand to choose from. Both of those require a substantial investment. The range for equipment (bullet traps, target handlers, air handling equipment, BP glass, etc) and the store for inventory. 300 pistols at an average of $400-$500 per means $120K-$150K for pistols. If you want to sell rifles you'll need inventory there too only they average twice that. What about scopes that can range from $500 to $3500 for those "Assault/Tactical/Sniper Rifles. And then the "Bacon and Egg crowd, the Hunters?

    There's a gun shop near me that doesn't have a bolt action hunting rifle in the place. They're struggling to keep the shop going yet stock only Glocks, a couple of AR variants, and some low end hunting scopes.

    As part of your business plan don't forget the market study. Who lives in your area, who will your customers be, what are they currently buying, and how can you get them to buy those things from you. Be prepared to spend some money on that information from Commercial Sources. Just guessing can be expensive. Just a dumb thought but it wouldn't be worth your while to open a store if most of the people in your market area either hated guns or were felons and couldn't buy one legally.
    I think he has a point, Maybe a Gun & Pawn would do better.
    If you voted for Obama to prove you are not a racist...
    what will you do now to prove you are not stupid?

    "The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism," they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." - Norman Thomas

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  22. #22
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    Just a good article on writing a business plan i found on a website i enjoy, might be useful for you...

    http://lifehacker.com/5833967/how-do...-business-plan

  23. #23
    Regular Member trevorthebusdriver's Avatar
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    My buddy just opened a gun store in Monroe, he may be able to answer some question for you.
    And everyone out there, go check it out, tell him Trevor sent you.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Epic-...60558897304391

  24. #24
    Regular Member amlevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justman1020 View Post
    Just a good article on writing a business plan i found on a website i enjoy, might be useful for you...

    http://lifehacker.com/5833967/how-do...-business-plan
    The best way is to get the software. The first on this site's list Business Plan Pro is a winner. I know first hand of a Franchising Company that had all their applicants use this software as it was somewhat preferred by the SBA preferred lenders.

    Lots of templates and guides.

    There is an old and true saying in the world of business. "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Just like training for armed combat, the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat. The only difference essentially is whether it's blood or money you bleed.

    A tip. Don't just toss together a Business Plan and run to the SBA/Bank. Run it by some other professionals in the world of business. A great resource is "SCORE" (Service Corps of Retired Executives) http://www.score.org/

    They are a group of retired business executives who assist people in preparing their Business Plans, Loan App's to the SBA or other lending institutions. They will be able to point out holes in the plan as well as target funding sources, government small business programs, and sometimes just plain investors.
    "If I shoot all the ammo I am carrying I either won't need anymore or more won't help"

    "If you refuse to stand up for others now, who will stand up for you when your time comes?"

  25. #25
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    Ask yourself why has no one else has opemed a gun store in the area rather than assuming there is a need for another gun store. Learn to be the devils advocate rather than a cheer leader for your own cause. Dont ask your friends, family or other people you know for their opinion, they are on your side and will tell you exactly what you want to hear. You will need way more cash than you think just to keep the doors open. Investors expect retuns on their money. Every business has cycles good times are normally followed by hard times, gun sales are very good at the moment, nuff said about that. Just my .02 take it or leave it, been there done that.

    Volume = profit BAAAAHAHAHA, sorry I couldnt help my self.

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