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The future of gun shows

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by Joe Link, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I see a lot of complaining about the state of gun shows today, how good they were back in the 80's and 90's, and how the whole concept is pretty much dead.

    I'd like to hear your opinions on this, as well as what you think could be done to improve the situation, and by whom.
  2. slimer13

    slimer13 Deer Park Well-Known Member

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    The problem that I have with gun shows is that if there are any deals to be had then the vendors snatch it up for themselves before the gates even open. Also alot of gun show vendors have a less than savory reputation. I still go though and I always leave some money behind and the place is always packed so I guess it must be working for them.
  3. matt_w

    matt_w Hillsboro, OR Active Member

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    Remove all actual firearms sales from the show and hold it in a venue with free parking/admission. It seems like the general public goes to the shows with an "I need to buy a gun at whatever cost" mentality which attracts all the bad vendors and unreasonable prices (because they know the average joe will pay them).

    If the show sold mainly parts/ammo/etc and had guns you could view/handle (and purchase later at vendor for an agreed on price), it might keep the less knowledgeable away (maybe).
  4. Glockman19

    Glockman19 Hillsboro Active Member

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    I think that is part of the problem if I get from your statement is " there is not any real good deals but I still go and buy anyway". If people continue this path why would the vendors change as I can guess a few less people but higher prices gain the vendor a larger paycheck. If people stopped going then the shows will stop or vendors will lower their prices to draw people back, however, if people continue to go and dont spend their hard earned money on an average deal and voiced why then there is more likely a chance it might get back to where we (the consumer) want the show's to be. Just my thoughts.
  5. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    The downfall of the shows can be attributed to the requirement of back ground checks. It used to be alot of private owners that wanted to do trading/selling as a hobby, now it is all dealers with shop stock. This equates it to a car dealer get together at the fairgrounds to put their stock in front of more buyers. Another issue is the cost to rent a table as most fairgrounds have renovated or built new facilities and want to make as much profit as possible when renting the place. To further add to the cost the promoters want to make alot of money also to support their club/business.

    The only way I see it going back to any resemblance of what they were would to get rid of the BGC's, but that wont happen anytime soon if ever. Another option would be to hold them at other sites that would be cheaper but that would most likely not happen as the site may be less easily found by the general public causing less sales/revenue.

    It may be better in general to reduce the freqiency of them as not all vendors go to every one due to costs involved. The overlapping of different shows/cites also tends to reduce the sizes which relates to the overall downsize of each. We all know what happens when the actual firearms deminish, we end up with beanie babies and other BS tables which in my opinion shouldnt be allowed, but the promotor makes his money off them all the same.

    I dont see them ever going back to the way they were, as everyone wants to make as much as possible. It's not the hobby crowd anymore it is just a big business.

    Another issue is the internet as who would rent a table at a show to sell parts/accesaries rather than sell off a site.
  6. eldbillbo

    eldbillbo clackamas New world samurai and a redneck none the less Bronze Supporter

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    Gun shows were awesome prior to Measure 5 background checks and the invent of the internet there gun show going on right here right now on this board and on many others.
  7. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    Gun shows provided a market for used guns before the internet took over. Look at the classifieds here. That's why there's nothing to be had at bargain prices at gun shows.
    Nwcid, novamind, Ironbar and 3 others like this.
  8. Doubletap

    Doubletap Newberg Well-Known Member

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    Couldn't agree more.. I quit going when they became "Vendors Shows" Why pay parking and admission..just to then pay for them to enter your purchase into a database....
  9. Swedish K

    Swedish K SW Washington Moderator Staff Member

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    Even back in the mid to late 90s there was a lot more selection - especially where parts are concerned. It used to be that every show had 2 or 3 1911 parts guys at a minimum, at least a few 10/22 parts guys, and various other tables with tons of parts for various markets. The majority of tables had guns, parts, or accessories - now it seems that half of the tables are selling jerky, new stock at above market pricing, etc. Last time I went to look for a few spare AR parts I couldn't even find a table that had a set of gas rings. One of the few reasons to go these days is to pick up a case of ammo so you avoid shipping and even that isn't always a savings.
    I agree that the background requirements have essentially eliminated private traders and most of the good deals.
    On the up side I bet the undercover ATF guys aren't going around trying to entrap people with "I got a mak90 and I wanna change x y and z on it" any more. I don't know how many times they tried to get me to sell them parts after asking about how you would go about changing to pistol grip and standard stock config back when it was illegal to do so.
  10. vmkeith

    vmkeith Vancouver, Washington, United States Member

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    Another aspect that I haven't read yet is the vendor's cost for a table/tables. Quite a few of the local gun shops that pay for table space at the gun shows seem to increase their prices to offset that cost. That's a huge turn off, but it still doesn't hurt to walk around looking for deals...and yes, they can still be found. It's all about knowing what you want, looking at the cost at each vendor's table, and knowing how to barter. Even if all you save on the deal is equivalent to the shipping costs from places like Midway, CTD, or Brownell's it's still a pretty good deal...and you don't have to wait 3-5 days for your goodies.
    skydiver and (deleted member) like this.
  11. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy between springfield and shelbyville Well-Known Member

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    I'm basing this on the Eugene gun show only since this is the only gun show i've attended lately.

    I dont like going to this gun show. It's dirty, smelly, confined, and run down.
    It's like going to the swap meet that time forgot.
    Every once in awhile I'll go try to find a good deal on ammo, but that's it. I enter, go straight for the ammo and leave.
    Between grandma's collection of vintage 70's macrame, the large selection of third tier airsoft equipment, and the tables full of knockoff accessories that are so bad even china wouldn't admit to manufacturing them, there's not much there that interests me.

    I'd like to see more vendor participation. Show off their latest and greatest in a professional manner.
    No more unbathed masses displaying used guns on old soiled bed sheets.
    A cleaner environment would be nice too. Maybe a change of venue to somewhere with better lighting and ventilation.
    OregonG20 and (deleted member) like this.
  12. vmkeith

    vmkeith Vancouver, Washington, United States Member

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    This sound like the gun shows they have in Centralia, Wa...especially the Wes Knodel Gun Shows. I usually stick to the Collectors West Gun Shows at the Expo Center in Portland. There's plenty of room, and usually plenty of vendors.
  13. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    Fewer commecrial vendors, more private citizen participation (with tables), lower table prices, lower parking fees, and less non-gun related crap (i.e. plastic toys and beef jerky tables). I'd love to say stop needing background checks at gun shows, but I think, much to my dismay, that particular law is here to stay in Oregon...
    skydiver and (deleted member) like this.
  14. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The last 6-8 shows I've been to over the past 6-7 years had many booths that either had old gun junk, junk that was sort of gun related, and booths where the firearms were more for show and tell. The prices for firearms don't seem to be any better than what a guy could get by doing a little internet window shopping. I've yet to see competitively priced ammo either. Apparently gun show vendors must make some money despite the prices as I keep seeing the same folks over and over.

    Potential improvements from where I sit: either no entrance fee or minimal; perhaps some raffles or auctons, get rid of the political booths - not there for politics.
  15. rockstardrnkr

    rockstardrnkr Vancouver Active Member

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    There is a gun show up here in Vancouver at the square dance center, usually the same crowd, ALOT of overpricing with most of the vendors having little to no wiggle room. Sometimes there is a deal to be had but most of the time its from bumping into some who is walking around.

    There was a gun show a while back at the fairgrounds that seemed to be a great show, maybe alot of overpriced stuff but then again alot of good deals. Plus i love talking to the people I meet so thats going to always be a reason for me to go back.
  16. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Gun shows have become a fragmented, disjointed shell of what they used to be. A crude combination of volume dealers, jerky sellers, cowboy junk sellers, AR 15 copies up the ying yang and now ersatz survival/prepper types prying their wares to whoever will listen to their hype and most of the sellers are no longer true 'gun' enthusiasts - just a strange collection of wannabee experts, loud mouthed idiots who talk about how they do nothing but buy this or that to resell or bizarre types who sit motionless and do not even speak when you approach their tables. Sorry but the few gun shows I have been to in the last couple years have been just this.
    Kevatc and (deleted member) like this.
  17. Torqk911

    Torqk911 Yacolt,Wa Member

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    I think gun shows have a purpose and work good for the majority of the crowd wanting to buy. The problem is everyone wants something for nothing and their will always be complainers. Gun Stores are their to make new customer and bring in money. They typically lower prices from their store to move inventory especially on used guns. I agree that the internet has taken away from a huge amount of private sells but they still occur but often they are harder to deal with than a store.
  18. Trailboss

    Trailboss Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    When the prices are the same, I save my purchases for the local brick and mortar stores. Stores spend quite alot for overhead and are always available. Many of the gun show sellers are weekend only.
    1 person likes this.
  19. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    Back in the 80&90's they complained about them and recalled how good they were in the 60&70's.

    IMHO there are too many, too often. The Albany and Rickreall shows are great and pull good crowds.
  20. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Three VERY good observations here.

    Another crucial factor (mentioned by others earlier) is the whittling down (especially at the Portland shows) of the private party seller tables. These souls are the driving engine for what makes a gunshow interesting: they bring new items to the table, they are motivated to sell, and they are engaging and friendly (for the most part). The background check had a lot to do with this, as well as other factors.

    In contrast, a show full of dealers only reflects a cold, remote, businesslike attitude (and you're lucky if you see the businesslike part). These are the "price 'em high, take-it-or-leave-it" crowd of table-holders. There are a few exceptions, and a regular attendee to the big shows can determine which few of the big fish are still willing to chaw the fat and dicker. As MCB stated, the Rickreall show is a burnished gem of the old days: lots of quality guns, friendly people, and some real bargains can be had. I will have to travel to the Albany show to verify his similar assessment of that one. The same "human" dealers that will take some time with you at Portland seem to make the trip to Rickreall. Few of the "cold fish" do. These observations are what still motivate me to make the trip to Kalispell Montana each spring for the show there: best little gunshow in the west. It is notorious enough amongst collectors, that very often a celebrity (of varying degree) can be seen lurking around to augment his collection.

    For those who write off the Portland shows, I would agree that there is very much distasteful about the whole arrangement. But, if you are a collector or looking for a particular gun (for hunting, or the like), the Portland Ordeal can occasionally pay off if you are attentive, observant, and have cash in hand. Some of my proudest finds came out of that cesspool:

    A pre-64 '94, near mint, in .25-35 Caliber. Priced like the other '94's on the rack, I talked him down only a token amount, NEVER mentioned the caliber, walked away fast when he took my money.

    A walk-in "kid" (about 23yo) with a stone mint Rem Model 81 automatic .300 Savage. Two dealers told him it had been reblued, lowballed him. I paid his modest asking price, and two Remington collectors have since offered to double my money. No 81 in their collections is this nice.

    A Nylon 66 in store condition: still had the big orange oval sticky label touting the "Zytel" stock. The friendly dealer I'd bought from before and enjoyed long discussions with had just taken it in trade from a walk-in. My fair offer cash on the table allowed him to make a quick turnaround. The requirement for paperwork in such a situation was certainly given all its due attention.

    One other factor affecting relative "quality" of current gunshows is the customer base itself. There is a fairly stark division between those who are interested in collecting and the fast-rising new engine of the gun trade: (interests lean toward AR15's, Glocks, "tactical" weaponry, defense guns, etc.). Some of us dabble in the other side of things, but a guy interested in new stuff has a multitude of sources from which to purchase and bargain-search. He need not make a physical trip to what he might see as a "flea-market" atmosphere, but certainly many do, and this is what results in twelve to twenty different new-gun dealers at each Portland show all selling identical guns for nearly identical prices (which are normally 5-10% higher than what one would pay at Bi-Mart)?????

    The view from my saddle: gunshow pest for 45 years.