New gun sales won’t be enough to keep gun stores afloat. Markups are ridiculously low, especially with online deals and Walmart. However, gun stores can still rake in big money, especially if they offer additional services.
Markups for gun purchases can go as low as 5 to 10 percent. However, most gun buyers will want some customization for their guns. Customization is mostly limited to cosmetic modifications and accuracy adjustments. Sons of Guns in Discovery Channel did a lot of wild antics. Still, their shop mainly profited on aesthetic customization instead of the over-the-top gun modifications (which require very special authorization). Modifying guns for accuracy requires a bit of know-how, but almost anyone can perform aesthetic or cosmetic changes.
Gunsmiths are required to have extensive liability insurance. However, the profits from customization will more than make up for higher premiums. The most basic aesthetic modification is changing the color of a firearm or painting specific designs. You can even go with a laser engraver and put more detail into your work. Just put a few of your best works on display (don’t forget the mags), and you’ll surely attract a few inquiries.
Accessories and Ammo
Most gun store profits will rely heavily on accessories and ammunition sales. Scopes, laser sights, suppressors, gun cases, holsters, and apparel have significantly higher markups compared to new firearms. Ammunition is consumable, so expect a boost in sales during hunting season or competitive shooting tourneys. Most gun stores will widen their services to cater to include hunting and fishing. Hunters and anglers typically buy a lot of goods, especially during open seasons.
You can even cater to the younger generation by stocking up on bows and rods that kids could use. A little effort also goes a long way. Get to know your customers and push more of your products. Offer suppressors to individuals primarily buying for home defense and explain that suppressors also reduce recoil, enabling them to fire more accurately and minimize accidents. Mention that you have the perfect holster for a recent gun purchase, and you’ll probably have an extra sale. Most people who enter a gun store have disposable income, and sales are easy if you use a bit of charm.
Tie-Ins with Ranges
Partner with a nearby range and give your customers a venue to use their ammo. A commercial shooting range can cost $30,000 to $40,000 per lane, so don’t even bother building your own unless you have the money. Send your customers to the range in exchange for discounts or maybe have a tie-up with a membership card that involves both your business.
Have competitions once in a while. The price you’ll pay for trophies is minimal compared to the surge of ammo purchases and accuracy modifications you’ll get from your regulars. Events will also foster camaraderie between your clients, which will eventually lead to more trips to the range and more ammo purchases for your store.
Legal Firearm Transfer
Gun shops can facilitate gun purchases from private individuals or even purchase used firearms. Transferring registrations from inherited guns are mostly a myth, except in California. Most legal firearms transfers involve private sales, and gun shops can usually charge $50 or more to facilitate the transfer. Purchasing firearms is even a better deal for gun stores.
The usual markup for a new $400 gun will only earn $40 to $50. Purchasing a used gun of the same model can cost $200-$250, and the shop can mark it up by $75 to $100 after cleaning and modifications. Firearm transfers are often blamed (unjustly) by the media for illegal guns. However, criminals won’t bother to go through the lengthy process of transferring registrations, especially with the meticulous background checks involved.
Firearm Safety Classes
New gun owners (especially liberals) can be clueless about what to do after their gun purchase. Offer firearm safety classes as well as the basics of using firearms. A class can take two to three hours (including range time), and it will probably make it a bit safer for the people who took the course and the people around them. Offer specials on ammunition that they’ll use on the range for practice and offer private or group coaching sessions if you have the time. A safety course and a few sessions on the range can change almost anyone’s opinion on guns, turning lukewarm feelings into interest and appreciation.
Gun stores can still be profitable without relying on new gun purchases. Offer various services and plan various activities that would allow your customers to familiarize themselves with their firearms in the range.