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So I am starting some market research. I want to open a gun store. I have investors, but what I really need is a location. I want a red state, and a city with a decent population. Somewhere that really is hurting for good gun shops, where there is demand.

Thoughts?


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Is this the best time? Seems that the industry is in a downturn at the moment...

That being said, what's your focus? Fudds? Tactical Tommy? Something in between? High end or Chinese crap accessories? Ammo sales? Reloading components? Gunsmithing? Cerakoting? How will you compete with online pricing? Will you get a SOT to do NFA items?

Have you thought about a firing range with a "pro-shop?"

Winchester, VA has **** for gun stores. Gander Mountain sucks and the two non-chain stores are staffed and frequented by good ol' boys that wouldn't give you the time of day. One place is decent for powder and primers; I wouldn't be caught dead in the other. We could really use a quality indoor range (rifle and pistol) - there are a handful of outdoor ranges, but they require ridiculous memberships or are kinda sketchy.

Honestly, the only time I step into a brick and mortar store is for an immediate ammo need; to purchase powder/primers to avoid HAZMAT shipping fees; or to check out a gun in person. 99% of my firearms related purchases are made online. Weapons are transferred through "kitchen counter FFLs."
 

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It is literally the worst time ever. Many firearm manufacturers are laying people off and merging.
A good shop that bought guns from auctions and sold them would be profitable in a free state however.

It seems a lot of the shops in my area stay in business solely because of their range however.


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So I am starting some market research. I want to open a gun store. I have investors, but what I really need is a location. I want a red state, and a city with a decent population. Somewhere that really is hurting for good gun shops, where there is demand.

Thoughts?


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You need to find:
1. Cheap land/RE/buildings
2. Permissive Gun Laws - States ranked A or B by the NRA
3. Large population base

My initial recommendation would be Nevada or Arizona, or places close to manufacturers. You need to look at states with pretty free gun laws. Texas has Constitutional Carry coming down the pipe right now, which would be perfect. CA is obviously out, as is Hawaii.

Are full-auto firearms a consideration? For repair, etc? Few states still allow them.

The gun industry right now is in re-adjustment. Companies that have been run properly will survive. Improperly run manufacturers are closing. An AR manufacturer is closing because they don't have the $2mm in taxes to pay the IRS. Really? They didn't put aside $2mm? :facepalm:

And a store alone won't cut it, imo. A range is imperative. It's like a gas station with a c-store. The gas = guns, c-store = range. Depending upon your location, then you have to decide outdoor or indoor. In WA, indoor is highly preferable from a business standpoint.

Also, some states may require additional licenses/fees for gun stores.

There's a store in a suburb of Seattle (Lynnwood) that moved out last year because the City of Seattle passed a "gun tax" which charged $25 per gun sold and $.05 per round over .22LR. This guy has the best prices around. The thing is he's not always stocked, most of it is to order. Which is fine.

As liberal as Washington is, we still have really good state gun laws. We're OC, Shall-Issue CC, and very few prohibited places- bars, courthouses, jails, mental health facilities are pretty much it. No Guns signs have zero legal standing, you get trespassed if you don't leave when asked. A horrible state court decision has been levied by the City of Seattle and the stadiums to prohibit carry in stadiums, even though it's against State law. Some BS mental gymnastics that the gov't owns the stadiums, but is just leasing them, so as a "business owner" they have the right to prohibit firearms.

We can't carry a loaded firearm in a car unless we have a CPL (concealed pistol license). No duty to inform an officer we're carrying (they kinda know already, since the CPL is in the system, and pistols are supposed to be registered with the DOL).

Oregon's out. ID, MT, WY all too sparsely populated. Although the Kalispell area would be awesome. Plus it's near NEMO (hnnng).

As far as your biz plan goes, I have one suggestion. Get a handle on shipping. Notably for ammo. I would love to order ammo online for a fair (cheap) price with free shipping. I don't want a dirt-floor price only to have a $45 shipping cost. And I've checked multiple online retailers and their shipping costs for the same amount goes from $12 to $28. :banghead:

Now, when you do finally get going, let me know, I'll put you in contact with my buddy who runs an area for Streamlight; he can connect you with the right reps.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I definitely will have a 25y indoor range. Hopefully an outdoor rifle range too.

I want a nice mix, but not heavy on hunting, more tacticool/ defense stuff.

Possibly have a LEO only area as well for community relations.

Basically I'd have all of the modern pistols, revolvers, tactical shotguns, ARs, AKs, all the cool stuff that you'd expect.

Then all the gear to go with it.

Maybe I can do hunting stuff as well later down the line.

I'm in the early planning stages. I have three friends who have opened or run a gun store.

I was thinking Nashville, but hell maybe Texas.
 

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FWIW, the 2 most recent places in the Austin area are higher end. One pushes a more family approach and the other is country club. Tons of good ole boy, shady, and pawnish places everywhere.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I definitely will have a 25y indoor range. Hopefully an outdoor rifle range too.

I want a nice mix, but not heavy on hunting, more tacticool/ defense stuff.

Possibly have a LEO only area as well for community relations.

Basically I'd have all of the modern pistols, revolvers, tactical shotguns, ARs, AKs, all the cool stuff that you'd expect.

Then all the gear to go with it.

Maybe I can do hunting stuff as well later down the line.

I'm in the early planning stages. I have three friends who have opened or run a gun store.

I was thinking Nashville, but hell maybe Texas.
From my limited experience, most gun stores don't cater to hunters. Sure, they can get a bolt action 30-06, but usually what's on the shelves is what moves. Personal defense and competition shooting are the main drivers of gun shops.

Even revolvers are pretty rare to see in stores. Maybe the Judge or the .380 Bodyguard.
 

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I'm in the early planning stages. I have three friends who have opened or run a gun store.
What are they doing now? If they aren't still running gun stores, why?

I've represented a couple of shops and a public range against it's municipal government.

It's a business with modest margins, your better customers can quickly become your competitors, and most of them can get arms and ammunition for the same price you can online. You are largely left with people not bright enough to get a better deal. Also, the geezers who spend too much time in your shop will tell you how smart they are.

I'm not saying you couldn't make it work, but it's tough.
 

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What are they doing now? If they aren't still running gun stores, why?

I've represented a couple of shops and a public range against it's municipal government.

It's a business with modest margins, your better customers can quickly become your competitors, and most of them can get arms and ammunition for the same price you can online. You are largely left with people not bright enough to get a better deal. Also, the geezers who spend too much time in your shop will tell you how smart they are.

I'm not saying you couldn't make it work, but it's tough.
I hear you.

One is a law enforcement training consultant, the other has his own holster company, and the other is working for a manufacturer. Still in the industry.
 

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I hear you.

One is a law enforcement training consultant, the other has his own holster company, and the other is working for a manufacturer. Still in the industry.
I've seen CCW certification and supplementary training work in that business. Finding reliable people to work the business for you can be a problem. The economics are something like a bar in that you can expect your employees to steal from you.
 

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I hear you.

One is a law enforcement training consultant, the other has his own holster company, and the other is working for a manufacturer. Still in the industry.
It's like bizzaro world, Jerry! I have a buddy who asked me to join his group which included him (Industry rep for a very bright company, a LEO, and a guy who makes his own holsters. We'd be doing "edutainment".

It's all about finding the best location (obviously!). Another thing to look out for is tax on firearms. WA collects it. So while I can find a better deal online, when the firearm gets shipped to an FFL, I pay the transfer fee ($25-$75 around here), and the ~10% sales tax on top of that. Net result is no savings - it can even cost more. The only way around this is to find an FFL who won't, or doesn't, collect sales tax (legally, it's the responsibility of the buyer). Who wants to fight the tax man? With WA's UBC I-594 BS that passed, I believe private party sales are now taxed (I'm sure they were before, but no one paid because no tracking mechanism).

From a store owner perspective, WA sounds like good place. The tax requirements nullify most online deals. Property, though, isn't really cheap. I also think we're approaching equilibrium for the market. Over the past few years, I know one retailer has closed all their stores (I think 6-7) and is down to one, with a shooting range. One retailer bought another indoor range. Where I used to live a guy was building a luxury store/range, but it's been 3 years and little has been done. A couple small stores have popped up.

Trying to find a place for outdoor range in close driving distance to population centers is hard; we're already spread out, and WA has a ton of NIMBYs. Idiotic NIMBYs. Ones who move to a town that has a state fair, car race track, and a private airport, and try to get all of them shut down. :facepalm::banghead:

Classroom instruction is a good way to make money, I think. For $50-$75/head, a 15-person class brings in $750-1125. Do that a couple of times a week. I did a Utah permit class and paid $115 (on sale, normally $150) for it. About 35-40 people were there. That's $4,000 for 5 hours. Most ranges have these classes that progress, and each class costs more. Intro to guns: $50. Intro to Guns II: $75. Handgun Basics: $90. Advanced Handgun: $110. Tactical Handgun: $150+300 round. Women Defensive Handgun: $125.

Obviously I'm not counting the costs, like having certified trainers, cost of continuous training, etc.
 

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Cincy has some very nice "gun shops"

100yr indoor range allowing 50bmg.
http://www.readylineonline.com/photos.html

A block from my work and we usually head over after work to shoot handguns.
http://shootpointblank.com/point-blank-blue-ash/

Range pricing is good and almost never have a wait to get on a lane. Obviously gun prices are way more expensive than online.

Would love a place with a 300yrd outdoor range. Doesn't have to be on same lot either. Maybe associated with the store and you get a free day of range time with every gun purchase. Would make me feel a little different about the $100 price increase on the weapon.

If you look on google maps, those 2 locations are in densely populated areas as well.
 

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Thanks for the replies.

I definitely will have a 25y indoor range. Hopefully an outdoor rifle range too.

I want a nice mix, but not heavy on hunting, more tacticool/ defense stuff.

Possibly have a LEO only area as well for community relations.

Basically I'd have all of the modern pistols, revolvers, tactical shotguns, ARs, AKs, all the cool stuff that you'd expect.

Then all the gear to go with it.

Maybe I can do hunting stuff as well later down the line.

I'm in the early planning stages. I have three friends who have opened or run a gun store.

I was thinking Nashville, but hell maybe Texas.
Better late than never I suppose, but I wouldn't suggest Nashville as there a bunch of gun stores active in the area, most of them have indoor pistol ranges though most top out at 15 yards. There is an indoor range that goes out to 75 and will let you shoot essentially anything you can bring in. The one thing we don't have is a nice 100yd plus outdoor facility that is open to the general public within easy driving distance of town, but I do rather doubt the feasibility of that given the land values here at the moment.
 

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It's interesting to see that there are three small gun stores within about 10 miles of a Cabelas here in SE WI, two of which opened up after Cabelas opened. I don't know what their secret is to competing with Cabelas. The third is a Fleet Farm store that always had rifles and shotguns but got a little more seriously into selling pistols during the Obama years with a couple of 3 ft. wide cabinet pistol displays. The next gun store north is in Lomira, WI just off Hwy 41, about 27 miles north of Cabelas. The Lomira store built and moved to a much larger building a few years before Cabelas opened up a few years ago. The Lomira, WI gun store is apparently hanging in there. Gander Mountain, a few miles south of Cabelas is closed or very near to that. It was there first; opened several years before Cabelas arrived. Anyone who knows that the small places are there is certainly aware of Cabelas, only a short distance away.

The Cabelas attracts shoppers from as far as Milwaukee, roughly 30 miles away. Cabelas does not have a shooting range so someone opened up The Range of Richfield, about a quarter mile north of Cabelas with indoor shooting for most rifles and pistols. Our winters make an opportunity for an indoor pistol and rifle shooting facility. There is an indoor, member only (easy to join last I was there), pistol only range in nearby Hartford, WI.
 

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It's interesting to see that there are three small gun stores within about 10 miles of a Cabelas here in SE WI, two of which opened up after Cabelas opened. I don't know what their secret is to competing with Cabelas. The third is a Fleet Farm store that always had rifles and shotguns but got a little more seriously into selling pistols during the Obama years with a couple of 3 ft. wide cabinet pistol displays. The next gun store north is in Lomira, WI just off Hwy 41, about 27 miles north of Cabelas. The Lomira store built and moved to a much larger building a few years before Cabelas opened up a few years ago. The Lomira, WI gun store is apparently hanging in there. Gander Mountain, a few miles south of Cabelas is closed or very near to that. It was there first; opened several years before Cabelas arrived. Anyone who knows that the small places are there is certainly aware of Cabelas, only a short distance away.

The Cabelas attracts shoppers from as far as Milwaukee, roughly 30 miles away. Cabelas does not have a shooting range so someone opened up The Range of Richfield, about a quarter mile north of Cabelas with indoor shooting for most rifles and pistols. Our winters make an opportunity for an indoor pistol and rifle shooting facility. There is an indoor, member only (easy to join last I was there), pistol only range in nearby Hartford, WI.
1. Better service
2. Lower prices

Cabela's, at least in my area, has routinely higher prices than the LGS. Cabela's also usually has a larger selection of ammo and accessories, but what it really amounts to is the ability to price shop.
 

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Around here in the DFW metroplex in Texas it seems that we need more ranges than anything. Gun stores are plentiful but a place to shoot your guns in another story. Many of the places up here will having waiting areas because they just get so busy, or you can notify them ahead of time online because, well, they're busy. I've been to Shoot Smart (chain of gun ranges) and at opening there is a waiting line at the door to get in. Do most of these places sell guns too? Sure, but it's not their bread and butter.
 

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I personally think that a gun range that also sells retail supplies, ammo and does certs is the best way to go.

With that being said, a ton of companies in the firearms manufacturing have been in a total financial downwards spiral over the past few quarters. Companies like Olympic Arms, DMPS, Radical, AAC and Rock River, along with HK are either filing for bankruptcy or are severely in the red. Most of that was due to the anticipated increase in the market with the election of 2016 that really didn't foresee the change in the market.

If you really want to start small and you have the correct military certs, there are tons of places that are hiring for overseas training exercises. That might allow you to get your toe in the water and figure out what your next step might be.
 

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I got to daydreaming on the drive into work. If I won the lottery (key phrase here), I thought I'd look at starting a gun range. Because land isn't exactly cheap here near population areas. And I'd need a lot to keep away future home development and NIMBYs.

Off the top of my head, I'd have:
1. 3 outdoor ranges: 100yd, 300yr, 500 or 600yd; 10-15 lanes per
2. 3 outdoor skeet ranges
3. 1 outdoor archery range; 5-10 lanes
4. 25-30 lane indoor pistol range: 25yd
5. Area to develop into multi-bay pistol ranges for competitions

The building would encompass:
1. Showroom/salesfloor for ammo, targets, shooting equipment, storage, safes, etc.
2. 4 classrooms for upto 50 people
3. "The Vault" for premium members to store firearms in. Concrete enclosure, etc, etc.
4. "Load" rooms where customers can load/unload and prepare for their shooting. Doing all this in a crowded bay is a PITA. Other option would be to increase the size of the range bay.
5. Cleaning room
6. Usual bathrooms, storage, offices.

Technology:
1. Members get a cardkey/"security" badge that they can swipe to gain access to range and have it tied to a bank account/credit card to pay. Certain membership levels would get guest passes and access to special areas.
2. Non-members get one-time card
3. Outdoor ranges have a hard gate closure for hot and cold range times. Basically something that operates opposite of the horse gates at a horse race.

I would not run a gun shop, but I'd be open to having a local business run one on site. I don't want to deal with that paperwork nightmare.

I would have a sign that provides a mission/vision statement to the clientele. Included in the signage would be a disclosure on insurance costs, and a wall dedicated to shooters that had an ND at the range. It would be known as the "Slop Wall."

Another idea I had was having an automated brass casing separator on site. Have a trough in front of a shooting bay feed into a giant bin, which then gets dumped into the sorter. Don't think something like this exists yet, though.
 
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