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A new Gun Shop

Discussion in 'Business Discussion & Reviews' started by Troy18B, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    I am looking at trying to open/start a gun shop when I retire from the Army in a few years. Would like to put it in the Vancouver/Washougal area since that is pretty much home for us. So what I am looking for is information/opinions on this. I know assembly, maintenance and repair of military weapons quite well.... civilian/sporting weapons not quite as well. So my question(s) are this:
    1.) I want to get to the point where I can manufacture my own AR platform weapons for sale... how much of a demand is there for that style weapon in the PNW?
    2.) How is the gun market in general in the Vancouver area? Is there alot of competition?
    3.) I train ALOT of people in my current job on weapons handling, safety and marksmanship... is there much of a market for training of that kind in the Vancouver area?
    4.) What kind of training/schooling does the public consider standard/necessary/required for a reputable gun shop owner/operator to have?

    I suppose I should stop with the questions there before other ones get spawned and this thing goes spinning out of controll.
    Any and all answers will be MUCH appriciated and if you have any questions of me dont hesitate to ask!

    Thanks,
    -Troy-

    P.S. I should have been more specific:
    4.) what training do I need to get that the public (you folks) consider standard/necessary/required for a reputable gun manufacturer/dealer shop owner/operator to have?

    15 year Army Special Operations Vereran, still on Active Duty untill retirement
    A little about myself: I grew up near Scotts Mills Oregon and joined the Army in '97 where I served at Fort Bragg NC for over 14 years. I was with the 82nd Airborne Division as an Infantryman from '97 to '01 and then went over to the "Dark Side", U.S. Army Special Forces Command where I still serve as a Special Forces Weapons Sergeant. I married my wife Debbie, a native of Washougal Washington, in '98. She is a WONDERFULL woman who has survived my countless Peace Time and Combat deployments (which are still ongoing) all over the world supporting me without complaint. We have been blessed with 3 beautifull daughters ages from 3, 7 and 11 years old. I am currently stationed in NW Florida and am looking forward to retirement in 5 years and coming HOME to Washington State. I tell ya, the South is nice and all (the people are friendly enough, in their own way) but there's nothing like the Pacific North West!!!
     
  2. James 61

    James 61 Clark Co Washington Member

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    I for one would welcome a new gun shop in the Vancouver/Clark County area. I think you would find there is quite a few AR manufactures already based in the region. Rainer Arms comes to mind along with another outfit who's name alludes me at the moment. I'm not sure how successful that part of your plan would be as a result.

    As far as competition goes there are 4 gun shops in town and one large hunting/fishing/sportsman type store. The 4 gun shops are all pretty small but two of them are really small and have a very limited selection. Additionally one of the smallest shops and the newest doesn't seem to know what they are doing. I went in there shortly after they opened and the had an AR-15 on the wall advertised as a M16A2. When I asked them about it they admitted it wasn't a M16A2 and when I further questioned them about ownership of class 3 firearm in Washington state they appeared to be clueless about what they law is. I haven't been back since. The large box store has a good selection but they tend to have the highest prices in town.

    I have dreamed about opening a large gun shop, like Keith's over in Gresham, in the Clark County area and think that if someone opened a similar shop that offered a huge selection with competitive prices that it would do well.
    As far as training goes I think there is a need. I don't know what is in Oregon but my fiance and I have attended training at a facility in the Chahelis area which is a good hour and a half away. Also another public range is deperatly needed. The only true public range is over priced and run down. The other ranges are membership only and they limit the number of members so it is very difficult to become a member.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Thebastidge and (deleted member) like this.
  3. speedtriple

    speedtriple Vancouver, Washington, United States Member

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    One area to think about with a gun shop in Clark County is the close distance to the People's Republic of Portland. Many people will cross the river to buy their long guns and supplies because Oregon has no sales tax. Hand guns, that would be the market for the most part.

    As for training, the biggest roadblock is having a place to provide the live fire training. If you have the capitol to buy land in a area you could build a range, you might have a market. Still, you would have to do a lot of training to cover that investment. As mentioned above, there could be a market for a better public range,or maybe a private club with ample growth potential.

    As for being a gun smith, I think there will be more and more demand for good smith. The good experienced ones are retiring at a rapid rate.
     
  4. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    Thanks for the insight guys, you bring up good points and things to think about and investigate.
    Anyone else have any advice?
     
  5. Ironbar

    Ironbar Tigard, OR Well-Known Member

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    Well Troy, the question about whether or not to open a gun store depends on your qualifications. Let's do a quick check:

    A) Do you enjoy overcharging people for things?

    B) Do you incorrectly identify items because you thought it was one thing but it's really another?

    C) Do you ignore people on a regular basis even when you know they want to speak to you?

    D) Do you enjoy treating people as if they're an intrusion on your time?

    If you answered yes to these questions, then you're probably qualified to open a gun store.
     
  6. Steve06

    Steve06 Oregon Active Member

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    Troy, I think it would be a tough market here. About three years ago one local gun shop in Portland sold over 6,000 handguns. He dominates this market. You had better have one hell of a niche.
     
  7. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    @Ironbar: While I appriciate your humor, I unfortunately answered "no" to all of your questions....... so I guess I'm screwed, lol. But serriously, I absolutely Hate when a business of ANY kind is to big for their customers, especially one that relies on the general public for their business! It makes no sence to me to act like that.
    @Steve06: Can you give me an idea of what kind of a niche is needed in the area? What void can I fill for the area? Also please realize that I can and will be able to cover a large area..... I dont plan to sell and service only the Vancouver area. The Vancouver/Washougal area is simply where we want to place the shop because it is home and where we want to finish raising our kids.
     
  8. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    LOVING the responses and advice on here guys! KEEP IT COMIN'!!!!!!!!!!
     
  9. Steve06

    Steve06 Oregon Active Member

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    You need to do a lot of market research and have a solid business plan and a lot of money behind you. An added problem will be when they slap a toll on the bridges to Vancouver from Portland.
     
  10. Ironbar

    Ironbar Tigard, OR Well-Known Member

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    I'll tell you what the hell is needed: A FULL SERVICE GUNSMITHING shop where you can actually take your firearms to be worked on, not sent away to freakin' New York, and not in some guy's basement workshop. A real storefront!
     
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  11. IheartGUNS

    IheartGUNS WaCo Well-Known Member

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    Oh no another one? Gun shop/stores are a dime a dozen, to much competition. To me the best gun shop/store is where the employees are friendly, no matter if your just looking around and what not, throw some deals here and there. You know what I mean, connect with the customers. Everything now days are just straight up business(money). I used to go to this one shop alot when they just opened. Friendly people, I'd hangout and talk stories with them. I used to buy alot of ammo from them before. But when they started to get more business, prices when up, and it seems like everything was just business. Now I reload my own ammo, and just buy online.
     
  12. chunkeymonkey66

    chunkeymonkey66 chehalis Highway to Hell

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    I will agree with the full gunsmith service part. There are plenty of avenues to buy ready made pieces. I can not think of a "local" shop that would take my (whatever) firearm and customize with whatever I am willing to pay for. Good Luck on your venture.
     
  13. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    IMHO...........

    Because you said the Vancouver/Washougal area and BTW I only moved to Vancouver 5 years ago so, I'm still quite new here............

    Anyway.........probably if you run it as a Pawn Shop/Gun Shop you might make it. But even then, it'll be tough. Some of the red flags are........

    Ammo will be a problem, as most volume shooters will buy on the internet, by the case. It'll be the same for reloading supplies (bulk powder, bullets and primers). Don't forget the, "group buys." Then, the guys who purchase only one or two boxes might just keep shopping over in OR to avoid the taxes.

    For WA residents shopping in WA, rifles and pistols will not get charged a $10 background fee like in OR. But, the taxes will suck for a WA resident. Of course WA residents will need TRANSFER SERVICES for pistols. So, that's a plus for you, if you can keep the transfre fee resonable. But, that pesky tax will again limit handgun sales. Then, some WA residents would rather just do sales FTF with used firearms to avoid the tax or the FFL forms. So, what's left? Humm.......concentrating on having a great selection of new and used pistols at good prices might just be "the niche" because of the Federal laws.

    As for AR assembly classes. Well, my 14 year old son put his together with videos found on You Tube. As for the proper gunsmith tools....well, that might be your edge there.

    Putting together AR parts to sell as a complete rifle. Sorry, there is a guy in OR that does it for about $640.

    Reloading classes. Sorry, there is a guy in OR that sort of has that angle.

    Surplus ammo cans. Sorry, there is a guy in OR for that too.

    General Army Surplus. Sorry, two other places in OR comes to mind.

    Full gunsmith services. If you "specialize" you might have a better chance. And, you'll have to be "THE MAN" of that particular firearm(s) so that you can do gunsmithing from all over the nation.

    Then......as I see it the big killer will be, volume. Without it, you won't/can't be all that competitive. Notice that Bi-Mart is the THE PLACE to buy a Ruger 10/22, Rem 700 ADL or Savage bolt action. Checkout their sale prices, I'd bet that you would be hard pressed to even match those prices as a small business.

    Aloha, Mark
     
  14. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    Well, since it has been a few days since I have responded on here its probably time I do so.
    "You need to do a lot of market research and have a solid business plan Steve06"
    This forum is part of my market research as well as to give me an idea of what hurdles to be expecting. My wife has her degree in Business Management as well as experiance it that field already so I belive that part is covered. However, my question to you is: what other resources or avenues can I explore in referance to market research/analysis as it pertains to this field?
    "I'll tell you what the hell is needed: A FULL SERVICE GUNSMITHING shop where you can actually take your firearms to be worked on, not sent away to freakin' New York, and not in some guy's basement workshop. A real storefront! Ironbar"
    That is Exactly a huge part of the shop that I am planning and what I want to create! So happy we are on the same page!

    -Troy-
     
  15. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    Wow.... this is going to be a big post but thats ok :)
    Bottom line folks, I am not trying or even wanting to become the biggest gun dealer / gunsmith in all of the Pacific Northwest. I don't want to make millions of dollars doing this. I have served my country and through that I have found something that I love to do that I am good at. I want to continue doing it and make enough money at it to continue supporting my family since my retirement pay from the Army "might" cover a morgtage and just about nothing else. I Love training people and imparting my knowledge to others and seeing them improve and excell at what they do. If I can improve someone's life and make them safer and more effective then I am a happy man. And if along the way, I can make a living at it and support my family at the same time than I am a happy camper! :)
     
  16. Troy18B

    Troy18B Northwest Florida New Member

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    Bumping the thread to see if there's any more advice that I can glean from you guys. What would you guys want to see in a Gun shop? Lay it all out there folks!

    Thanks,

    -Troy-
     
  17. rkoreis

    rkoreis Vancouver, WA Member

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    Apply now for the FFL. It takes a good bit of time to process. Consider using your VA education benefits on a gunsmithing program. A skilled gunsmith is priceless. Instead of sinking money into inventory, look at purchasing a piece of land where you could set up a small pistol range. You say you love training and imparting your knowledge. Maybe you offer shooting and maintenance courses. That way you would also be dealing with people who are excited to receive training from someone of your background as opposed to the guy who comes in to your store trying to purchase an item for less than you can sell it.
     
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  18. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    I would be all for a full service gunsmith in the area. Being an Oregonian(therefore having far superior genes than WA folk), my firearm purchases will be made here. I have been known to travel to Surplus Ammo in Lakewood for bulk purchases of ammo. I will not support Portland gun stores unless my hands are tied. I have dumped so many thousand's of dollars into NW Armory, praised them all over this site and others, just to have them spit in my face. I will send my money elsewhere. A retired Special Forces Weapons Sergeant seems as good a candidate as any. Try not to alienate your customers. If you haven't noticed, us gun types are a bit sensitive. When we offer our hard-earned $$$(I personally have put over $100,000 into the firearm community of the NW and I am small potatoes compared to some) to a merchant, we want to at least be told we're appreciated. You don't have to mean it, just say it.

    P.S.-Until you Vancouver Sissies(sorry to those of you that are not, though you are few) find your own bridge, get your own jobs and find another state to come to to evade taxes from, "The People's Republic of Portland" will be here for you. I can't wait to get out of this city, but you can bet your sweet a** I won't be moving to Washington. Kip.
     
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  19. Steve06

    Steve06 Oregon Active Member

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    A bad night, Kip?
     
  20. unklekippy

    unklekippy In The Mountains Near Sprague River Well-Known Member

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    Not at all. The first section, regarding my disdain for PDX gun stores, was honest and sincere. The second, regarding our neighbors to the north, was in jest. My bad nights these days are caused by back surgery. No domestic disputes or hangover's. Steve, I thought all the sissies were in WA? What are you doing with an OR location?:) Kip.