Posts Tagged ‘Gun Store’

shoe-shopping

Now, you may be thinking, “Shoe Shopping??? I thought this was a gun blog.” Don’t worry. It is. However, I discovered an amazing connection between these two apparent opposites. Shoes and guns are astoundingly similar in a one key area: it’s nearly impossible for somebody else to pick out the perfect one for you. 

A Woman’s Advice


shoe-shopping (1)As the only full-time lady working behind the counter at Autrey’s, I am asked all the time: “What’s a good gun for my wife?” Nearly everyday, I hear one of the many variations of this question. Sometimes, the question comes from another lady assuming that she’ll like whatever gun I like, simply because we are both female. The false premise behind these questions is this idea that there is a specific gun or a specific type of gun that is ideal for women. To refute this, I offer up the suggestion that there is one specific car that is ideal for every man. Silly, right? Same thing with guns. Each person, man or woman, must find which gun feels right to them, which gun they shoot well, and which gun they can afford. Individual preferences rule the day when it comes to gun-buying. While I can suggest general things to consider (weight, recoil, size, etc…), these generalities in no way assure success. I can no more tell a husband which gun his wife will like any more than I can tell him which shoe to buy her. And I pity the man who would ask me to pick out his wife’s shoes. 

gun-shopWhoever will be using the gun needs to hold it, feel it, make sure they can operate it, and, if possible, shoot it. From my experience, I say shooting the gun you are interested in buying, or a gun similar to it, is vital to long-term enjoyment of said firearm. For example, those little, light-weight guns everybody loves to market to women are some of the most uncomfortable guns I have ever shot. For the women out there: just because it is small, cute and you like the way it feels in your hand, does not mean you will like shooting it. Those little things pack quite a kick.

Whenever possible, shoot before buying. Going back to the shoe analogy, buying a gun without shooting it is like buying shoes without trying them on. The shoe may be the right size, style and color but still be completely miserable to wear. A gun may meet all your other criteria but still be a literal pain to shoot. (At which point, you have to decide if you will get it and put up with the pain or find something more comfortable.) 

 

Trying on a Gun:

Right grip1. Fit: For best results, the gun must fit the user. The trigger should be a comfortable reach for their finger, not too close and not too far. The operational buttons (slide lock, magazine release, safety, etc…) should be easily accessed and operated. For semi-automatic users, the user must be able to rack the slide. Some guns are harder to rack than others, so don’t give up on semiautomatics completely if you struggle with the first one you try.

2. Feel: This is the intangible aspect of gun-buying. There are some guns that just feel right in your hand. The contour of the grip, the weight, the texture, and the overall size of the gun greatly influence the feel of the gun but only you can determine what feels right.

basic-gun-safety-course-for-one-two-or-four-people-13699884503. Fun: As a general guideline, I believe a gun should be enjoyable to shoot. I readily admit that concessions to comfort must be made when situations demand a small carry gun as the only option. However, people tend to do things that are fun and not do things that are not fun. With that principle in mind, I will sometimes suggest the buyer might also consider investing in a more enjoyable gun at some point in the future. This will encourage range time and practice. At a minimum, the user must be able to safely operate and control the firearm while shooting; enjoyment is an important, but secondary consideration.

 

Concluding Thoughts

969572_364713273655812_1015285563_nI do not want to discourage people from asking me, or other women, for recommendations on firearms, but I do want to expose the mythical “Good gun for a lady.”  There is no such thing. Some guns are preferred more by women than men, but your woman may not like any of them. Buying a gun, especially for the first time, is a very personal decision. Such a decision can, when encouraged, truly reveal a person’s individuality. So, I urge all you to never pick out another person’s gun (unless they gave you very clear and precise directions or it’s a collector’s piece), for they may end up not liking anything you thought they would like. I recently encouraged a friend to look at a couple of handguns I thought he would really like. He ended up putting his hand on a completely different one and that was it. That was the one he wanted and no other would do. It just felt right. He would have been very unhappy with my choices and I am just very glad I didn’t get him one of the ones I recommended. So live and learn… and Try on a Gun!

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By Ruth Goodman

umpire safe

I am declaring it official. The gun-buying panic is over. The mad rush to arms following the Sandy Hook tragedy (and the politicians’ attempts to exploit it) has finally come to an end. In case you were out of the country or otherwise occupied during the last two years, let me bring you up to speed. The gun industry was already experiencing high activity thanks to the reelection of our current president when tragedy struck in Newtown, Connecticut. Immediately following the reports of a school shooting AR’s began flying off the shelves.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

While this picture is not of our store (we did not think to take pictures of our empty racks and shelves), it is remarkably similar to what happened to us.

Most of our inventory of Modern Sporting Rifles was gone within a week, all of it was gone within a few weeks. (On our busiest day, we went from a regular staff of 5 to 9 and still had customers lined up to the door.) Once all the AR’s were gone, attention turned to handguns. Self-defense purposed handguns became impossible to keep in stock. The rapid rise in handgun purchasing led to ammo shortages in nearly all the popular calibers. For most calibers, the supply quickly caught up with demand and the shortage ceased to be a problem many months, if not a year, ago. The notable exception to that is .22 ammo. In our store, the .22 ammo shortage began around the same time the rest of the calibers were catching up with demand and has continued on from that time. The most bizarre thing to many of us in the industry, is how long it has taken .22 ammo to catch up. A full year later and we still have a very limited supply of .22 and impose strict limits on how many boxes a customer can purchase. 

However, as we entered Spring we noted a marked slow-down in our store. As we talk with others from around the country, we are hearing of the return of the normal “summer slow season.” Gun stores and industry reps for national companies are reporting an industry-wide slow-down of purchases and firearms activity (with the exception of states that recently enacted increasingly infringing gun laws). I believe this slow season feels much slower to many, because it stands in stark contrast to the record making sales of the last two years. We have been so busy for so long, that record busy became the new normal. Stores increased staffing and ordered more product, producers ramped up production, etc… 

out of breath

Now that pre-chaos norms have reinstated themselves, this is the perfect opportunity for us all to rest and catch our breath. It’s a chance to look up from the daily activities and see the bigger picture. How many of the recent gun-buyers were first time buyers that now need training, supplies, and support? How can we as an industry meet those needs? Women are steadily increasing their presence in the firearms world. What can we do to encourage and support that growth? Have the local demographics changed in the last two years? Should a store focus more on building their online presence or on their brick-and-mortar functionality? There are countless questions we, as an industry, can ask ourselves at this time. Now is the chance for each of us to really sit down and evaluate ourselves as a store, an industry member, a service provider, and a member of the community. 

Let us all make the most of this time and catch our breath. 

nra_rules

Over the last few weeks, I witnessed a variety of unsafe gun handling and it spurred me to write a letter to all gun store customers. Essentially, I asked everybody, for the safety of all, not to handle a loaded gun in a gun store. Based on a recent news story, I’m now thinking I need to expand that topic a little bit. If you do not intend or expect to handle your firearm in our store and thus you leave it loaded for the duration of your shopping experience, make sure it’s in a quality holster!! An off-duty cop in Ft. Lauderdale had a negligent discharge from a pocket gun as he was dining near the bar. The shrapnel wounded six people. There are only two  ways I can see that happening. 1. He was not using a holster at all or 2. The gun slipped out of the holster enough to reveal the trigger. Either way, I consider it to be negligence. A quality pocket holster would have solved either problem. Not putting anything else in your carry pocket would also help reduce the chance of something like this happening. Firearms are serious and deadly weapons, we must constantly fight our over-familiarization of them so as to maintain a level of respect that will in turn prevent tragedies.

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For those unfamiliar with our store, Ben Autrey’s vision of a local, well-stocked, knowledgable gun store was birthed 10 years ago, this November. As it tends to happen, after birth came growth, and with growth, cramming. Sometimes it’s cramming too-big feet into too-small shoes, but in our case it was cramming product into every conceivable inch available. Realizing there was no room left in the shoe, we went looking for more room. It just so happened, there was lots of room right next door. So I am pleased to announce this vision of excellence, known as Autrey’s Armory, has escaped the too-small trappings of before and is spreading its wings in a brand new 5000 sq. foot showroom!!! Hip hip, hooray!! and all that. While it certainly is a time of excitement and anticipation, I also find myself pondering the financial security in such an investment. The ability to buy nearly anything without leaving the comfort of your couch is certainly hard to compete with. Small businesses have it rough these days (and the government sure isn’t making it any easier on them). While I am merely a humble employee of a small business, I am concerned for the brick-and-mortar shops of today. How do they compete with online stores or big box retailers? How have some thrived, like Autrey’s, while others have withered up and closed doors?  What makes a customer prefer to shop at a small business over all the other options? While I haven’t found all the answers, I believe I have found some. I simply looked at the pros and cons of each option.

online_shopping

Online

Pro’s:
  1. Convenience: One of the top reasons for shopping online is the convenience of simply clicking a mouse instead of getting in their car and driving somewhere.
  2. Price: Online products are typically cheaper than their retail counterparts (for multiple reasons) and the available savings are quite attractive to a lot of people.
  3. Selection: Hands down, selection online is better than in stores. There really is no way for local shops to beat the endless array of products available online.Xmas time
  4. Consumer Reviews: Reviews are a great way to approximate the experience of having the product in hand. As other people describe their interaction with the product and manufacturer, the customer is able to identify with the authors and determines if the product will work for him.
  5. Less Stress?: Some people find it less stressful to purchase items from the security of their home or office than travel out into retail stores. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I tend to agree. Other than that… meh.
Con’s:
  1. No Touching: You really don’t know what you are really getting when you buy online. It may be one big surprise when UPS or FedEx drops off that box.
  2. No Talking: On most sites there is little to no personal interaction. The websites that do incorporate some “live-person” interaction typically use one of the least personal means of communicating… chat.
  3. Privacy and Security: It goes without saying, shopping online puts your identify and financial accounts at risk. Effort must  be taken to secure your identity and finances.
  4. Not Supporting the Local Economy: Unless you are buying on a local store’s website, your money is not going to support your local economy. Your money may be going across the country or to other countries.

retailcashier

Major Retail Stores

Pro’s:
  1. RetailselectionSelection: While not on the same level as the internet, major retailers do offer great selection.
  2. Price: Because large retailers purchase in bulk, they are often able to get items at a lower cost. This enables them to sell items at a lower cost.
  3. Product in hand: For many people the ability to physically touch and see the item they are interested in is all the reason they need to drive to a store. Most people, myself included, want to see what an item really looks like, what it feels like, etc… before investing their hard-earned money. Unless you know someone who has that very item, going to your local store is about the only way to get your hands on it before you buy it.
  4. Related Items: Many large retailers do an excellent job of marketing related items. That is why the bike helmets are typically located near the bikes.
  5. Privacy: Unless the store uses some type of facial recognition software connected to their cameras or cell phone tracking, it is normally very easy to shop anonymously. None of the employees are likely to recognize you and most of the other customers aren’t paying attention to much else but their shopping. Pay with cash and people probably won’t even remember you were there (aside from the security cameras of course).
  6. Supporting Local Economy?: To some extent shopping at the big box store supports the local economy, but it also sends  local money off to unknown locations. It does pay the salaries of local employees, state and local taxes on the property, etc… But a certain percentage of every dollar spent at the store gets sent to the pay the overseas suppliers, transport costs, import taxes, etc… and to company headquarters to pay their salary.
Con’s
  1. Grocery_line_SkeletonCustomer Service: Big box retailers have the, typically well-earned, reputation of poor customer service. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but as a whole large stores simply do not have the heart that the small businesses have. Frequently, employees see so many people in one shift that everything becomes mechanical. The personal interaction and relationship is sacrificed to efficiency. Getting people in and out quickly becomes the goal. Generally, employee expertise is also limited.
  2. Long Lines: During peak seasons long lines can be exhausting. Christmas and Black Friday come to mind.
  3. Privacy: See above.
  4. Not Supporting the Local Economy: See Above

Small Businesses

Pro’s:
  1. small_business_ownersCustomer Service: A main reason many people buy local is the customer service they experience, both in regards to buying and returning items. Small businesses typically excel at providing personal assistance as customers research, examine and purchase items. Should anything go wrong with your item, purchasing from a local store gives you a person to speak with. A face you can remember and approach for help. Many times you find the employees to be a valuable resource as you explore your item of interest. The knowledge and expertise of such people add an intrinsic value to a local shop that is not replicable online. For example, one of the gentlemen in our shop is extremely well versed in old firearms. I’ve been astounded to hear him not only identify an unknown firearm by make and model but also go on to mention where it was manufactured and what type of machine was used to manufacture it. He is truly a wealth of knowledge. Small businesses frequently have a bit more flexibility in their pricing and some may negotiate deals with customers to ensure customer satisfaction. The first example that comes to mind is our store’s policy of mounting scopes for free with the purchase of a rifle or scope. With few exceptions, customer service is paramount in small businesses.
  2. Product in hand: In small stores you normally have more time to look at items and discuss them with the employees. Employees are typically well versed and are able to point out the features and benefits of the item. Many gun stores further satisfy a customer’s curiosity by supplying a wide variety of firearms for rent. When it comes to knowing if you are comfortable with a firearm, there is no substitute for actually firing the weapon. I wish I’d learned that lesson a few years ago. I bought an XD-40 as my carry gun on gunbroker.com. I read all the reviews I could find. I researched it up and down. But I never shot it. After years of poor shooting, I finally tried out an XD-9 and quickly traded in my 40. You just never know until you try it.

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    Customer or friend? … Why not both?

  3. Personal Relationship: Shopping at a local store provides an opportunity to develop personal relationships with the employees and owners. We have many regular customers that are more friends than customers.
  4. Privacy: It is much easier to protect your privacy and security when you shop at local Mom-and-Pop stores than online; especially if you pay with cash. (Unless you are buying a gun. Federal forms negate that benefit.) It is also highly unlikely to encounter the type of tracking and surveillance big box stores are now implementing at the local art supply store, boutique or coffee shop.
  5. Supporting Local Economy: Purchasing items at a local store inputs cash into a local business, enabling the owner to pay his employees, bills, vendors, utilities, buy groceries for his family, etc… directing nearly all his funds back into the local economy.
  6. Socializing: Many people simply enjoy going to the local store to look over the merchandise, talk with other customers and the person behind the counter. The trip to the store is no longer about buying ammo or a new holster, but about catching up on the latest industry news, information or gossip.
  7. use this2Finding related items: Local stores also tend to do a good job of carrying related items, thus enabling a customer to get all that he needs in one place.
  8. Short lines: lines are typically shorter and (excepting times of national gun buying panic) service is more prompt.
Con’s:
  1. Retail-Vertical-Price: Unfortunately, small businesses are not able to get items in bulk quantity and their prices typically reflect that. Small businesses typically have slightly higher prices than online or big box retailers. It’s just the nature of the beast.
  2. Selection: Again, simply because it is a small business, the selection in the store will not be as varied as what you can find online or at major retailers. Just look at holsters. There have got to be thousands (if not tens of thousands) of holster models. There is simply no way for a small business to carry a sample of every holster design available. It is just not going to happen. The best a store can do is carry the most popular models and special order the rest, if need be.
  3. Inconvenience: The store cannot come to you. You must leave the comfort of your home or office and travel to it.

perfect-checkout

Which Will It Be?

Overall,  it seems most people do want that face-to-face, personal interaction that is inherent in small businesses. Many are tired of the brusque efficiency of big box retailers and unsatisfied with the cold simplicity of online shopping. We are social creatures that long for pleasant, enjoyable social interactions. Having a designated place to turn to for help is also a major point for small businesses. So, while I must confess I do shop online from time to time (typically for hard-to-find items), I do believe Ben’s vision is safe in the hands of our loyal customers, new customers, and the customers yet to discover us. Why? Because, overall, for me and many others, customer service, personal interaction, and building relationships trumps cheaper prices. (Besides, one thing I’ve learned working at a gun store: just because you found it cheaper online does not mean it will be cheaper by the time you take it home.)

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. And definitely let me know if I left out anything. Thank you for reading. Stay safe.

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