Process and problems:
#1 You must have the proper zoning in order to have this type of business (or any business for that matter) on your property. Expect that you may have opposition from some neighbors.
#2 You need to check into insurance. Here is the fun part your house will need high risk Lords of London insurance for your house. No regular insurance company will insure you if you have a business on your property and then a gun business, nope won't happen. So this high risk insurance is about $3500 a year plus you need business insurance on top of that. And it gets even better you have to have a complete inside and outside home inspection annually. Also just because you find someone to insure you they may change their policy the next year and you will be looking all over again. Last year I almost had to resort to fire only.
#3 You must have an inspection by the ATF which may or may not approve your application.
#4 Security - Expect to have an alarm system, many cameras and sensors on your property for security. Also install bars in the windows. I have all of this. Expect to keep all you doors locked at all times. Even if you are working around the house when you are closed. Even if you have a closed sign on the door 99% of the time if someone comes before or after hours they will try the door to see if it opens. Some will then proceed to walk around or try the house. Expect problems and kicking people off your property. Yes I have done this many times. I have had shoplifters and had to add additional security. I have had individuals they are denied flip out and start yelling. One guy was 6' 6' and a big boy started yealling because he was denied and thought I was going to have call the police. The customers in the shop were terrified. I stay armed at all times. I have had to report people to the ATF and Penobscot County Sheriffs Office. I have had to kick up numerous attempted straw purchasers. My family pretty much has to stay on alert at all times. People show up before and after hours. They have no respect for your home and will walk right over to your house if your not open. I feel bad for my girls they couldn't have an average childhood and play outside because of these issues. They were honestly scared to be outside. I cannot even go outside and work after I am closed. People will drive in the driveway and stare at you. Some get out of their vehicle and almost expect you to be open 24/7. I have had drunk individuals drive in and start up a conversation on what I have for guns or ammo. This gets very old. My wife always has said it's like living in a prison. We can't enjoy ourselves at home.
#5 The large dealers are a difficult habit to break. Even having low prices and a good selection people with still go to the big places and spend higher prices.
#6 It is extremely difficult to make it full time running a home based FFL. I have no employees, I cannot afford employees, I do my own ordering, receiving, shipping, book keeping, social media posts (most of them land me in Facebook jail or Pages removed since they are all anti gun), and website maintenance (luckily I have been building websites since 1997). I do it all and put more hours in than you can imagine and have no life. Sometimes I have thought of giving up but I am stubborn. I don't expect to do this forever. One of my kids was talking about taking over the business and expanding it but that may never happen. That is the only way to really do it and not stay home based.
#7 Stocking the wrong products can put you in a mess real quick. Making the right decision on what to stock can make or break a small business.
#8 Hours - Trying to maintain steady hours is a challenge. If you have a change of hours don't expect things to go smoothly. Even though you post hour charges people will still show up and some will not be happy. I have had some real winners yelling threats at the cameras.
#9 ATF inspections can happen at anytime. You must be prepared at all times. They do show up unannounced. I had three agents on my last visit.
#10 Being a small dealer makes it hard to get product. You don't have the volume large dealers have which puts you at the bottom. All the good hard to get items go to the big dealers you get the scraps. You have to put hours into finding the products that are popular at that moment in time. Some distributors want you to buy 10 crappy guns just to get one hard to find gun and/or hard to find ammo. It's real tough.
#11 Advertising isn't enough. Even after selling guns since 2010 there are atleast 1 or 2 people a day coming in that said they had never heard of me and wish they had know. This is after they see how much they overpaid other places. Some come in and say I forgot you were even here. The only way to get people to come to you is to have low prices and a low profit margin. They want cheap transfers and deals on guns and other items. You do get some of those people that squeek when they walk. I do get some loyal customers that make every effort to buy from you but these customers alone are not going to keep you in business. The places and are big, fancy, and expensive sell items as top dollar with no effort at all. People see it they buy it. There never check prices I guess. The must think if it comes from a fancy place it must be worth more.
#12 Late minute shoppers. Those shoppers that show up 5 minutes before close. They think it's like stopping in at the Seven Eleven and picking up a big gulg. NOT. It can take 20 minutes just to do paperwork and then background checks can take up to 20 minutes to get an answer. So basically you supposed to close at 5pm and by the time you get out it might be 6pm or later. If they buy more that one handgun you have a multiple handgun purchase form to fill out and email to the ATF at end of business day.
#13 UPS and FEDEX not recognizing you as a business they recognize you as a residential address. You have deliveries that have to be signed for that shows up all hours of the night. If your not there to sign for your packages or customer transfers you won't be happy and neither will your transfer customer that expected to get their gun the next day. Now they are mad at you because they are impatient and wanted their gun yesterday. Even though they may play with it an hour and stick it in the safe you ruined their plans. And to top it off you now have money of yours sitting on the truck that cannot be processed and sold because you missed the delivery.
#14 ATF Traces. Just when you think your day is going well and you can get caught up on work or the end of the day and you think you will get out on time to go to supper with the family all of a suddon you have an email pop up requesing a firearms trace. No you could wait do it the next day but I prefer not to. I want to look good in the eyes of the ATF and I drop what I am doing and take care of it. I pull the 4473, scan it, and fill out the trace form and send it to them via email ASAP. I have got up to 4 or 5 month and some months I have none.
#15 MAP Pricing. Just when you think you can out price the competition there is MAP pricing. You can sell products for less then the competition. Some items for 50, 100 or 100's less but you cannot tag items at the lower price. Yes you will have sales reps come in and inspect your tags to make sure you are in compliance. If you get caught you could lose your ability to sell their products. Glock, Sig Sauer, FN, and many more. The funny thing is the BIG GUYS get to have these reps come in and have a special sales event that allow them to sell below MAP and probably are at your normal price but they call it a sale. You cannot advertise that price publically but they can. Fair? No!
#16 New models come out and you can be stuck with old models.Yes this happens a lot. If you don't reduce the price and possibly take a loss you might be stuck with them for a long time. Prices drop and you are stuck with something you paid full price for. This happens a lot also on certain firearms. The prices may go up a 50, 100 dollars or more if things are hard to get and the drop off sharply when the situation improves. I have lost more money then I care to mention because of this.
#17 Some think you don't have to stock much for inventory. This is false. When is going to draw people in? A good selection, good prices, and least good service. You have to stock enough to make it worth it for someone to travel to you. Trying to have little inventory and expecting customers to order from you is just a dream. A good part of people want to order something you cannot get. There are some that will order from you and pay upfront and have no problems. Others want to order but don't have them money and want to know if you will take payments.
#18 Employees to help. I just don't feel it is worth the risk especially how the ATF is cracking done on licensees. If they make a mistake it's on you not them.
#19 Hunting, Ice Fishing, and Snowmobiling. Good Luck with that. These seasons are your busiest time of year. Sept-May you are committed to the shop. I have pretty much given up on those activities. Summer activities are pretty much all you have if you are closed on the weekend.
#20 If something happens to you and your family doesn't want to continue the business now what. You most likely will never find someone that will buy the business and take it over. Expect things like accessories to be sold at pennies on the dollar some may have to given away. Ammo and guns will be sold below cost to another dealer. Not the greatest investment. When I look at a gun collection I see value and demand for collectible firearms. Common new inventory that every dealer has in stock already is not going to be as easy to sell at top dollar. I have bought out some dealers from the dealer directly that is on his death bed and from families. It is very overwhelming for the families. I had one guy that started his shop in his 50's and put some of his retirement into starting a gun shop well not more than a year or two later he came down with cancer. What a mess. He had to.come to the realization he had to take quite a loss on his investment and it was best for the family. I am already going through my complete collection so if anything happens to me. I have to figure out a plan for the business. I don't look at a small gun shop as an investment. If you are a large shop that has been well established in the area with a lot of investment into it I can see that the name itself is sellable even though no one bought Van Raymond. A smaller shop will just close when the dealer retires or dies unless the family wants to continue it. If I worked for someone else and collected guns I would be further ahead then I am now especially how much collectible guns have gone up in recent years.
#21 Feast or famine. The gun industry is driven by politics. That is one of the things I hate the most. You can selling at normal pace and then bam there is a shooting. All of a sudden there is a mad rush on guns. You try to restock to take advantage of the rush and then the gun you want are sold out. A bunch of big dealers bought them out. All of a sudden as fast as the rush comes on sales are dead. When things are slow it can be so bad you wonder if you will make it. This business is driven by shootings, pandemics, what comes out of the Presidents mouth, anti gun legislation trying to be passed through congress, anti gun legislation that is shot down, or pro gun legislation being passed. It is up and down and hard to predict.
#22 The sale that could of been. 1. Someone comes in to buy a gun they fill out all the paperwork and after all that you find out the address is wrong on their license and they don't have supplemental documentation (might be back) 2. They get delayed on the background check and they live 2 - 3 hours away (lost sale), 3. They get delayed on the background check and they didn't pay for the gun. You get an answer on the background check and you try to get a hold of them to come get the gun. Crickets. (Lost sale waist of time) 4. Then you get the try and see. They try to buy a gun and see if something is still on their record that keeps them from buying a gun. Oh I got denied? I figured that would be off my record by know. I figured I would try. I figured that would happen. (This is a complete waste of time and really makes you mad) I just had one of these.
I work my heart on this business and I have made a lot of sarafices. Has it been worth it? I really don't know. I see other that are my age (52) or older wanting to start a gun shop because they think it will be fun. It might be something to do after you retire from your job. Why? Why tie yourself down. Life is too short. Get a part time job and enjoy yourself. I don't see that this is anything I would want to do in their situation. Collect guns, shoot guns, go hunting, fishing and do other outside activities. Enjoy time with your family.
I have other properties I own in Hermon and Carmel at better locations (on main roads) who knows maybe I will expand if the kids are interested and get out of where I am.
This is still under construction expect more to be added.
11 “‘Do not steal. “‘Do not lie. “‘Do not deceive one another.
11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
9 Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.
ALLSPORT PERFORMANCE INC
681 BOG ROAD