Murph, of Murphy's Guns, Tucson, Ariz., looks up from inspecting a used shotgun.
"You have to make a profit selling used guns, but selling an excellent used gun creates goodwill," Murph said.
Murph is right. I've purchased prime examples that lured me back to the gun store. My last purchase was a never-saw-saddle-scabbard Marlin 336 Texan .30-30. The dealer made a buck and scored a regular customer.
Goodwill when selling used guns goes beyond initial profit. After all, there isn't sufficient mark-up in new or used firearms to build store wealth. Follow-up is the goal--the happy buyer returning to secure other goods.
Goodwill can only follow careful buying, Murph says.
"We look the gun over to see if it's something we really want to buy," Murph said. "Some are in demand. Others are not."
Additionally, there may be a false notion on the part of the seller that just because his rifle is 50 years old, or that a way-back kin owned it, it is a valuable antique.
"Being old does not necessarily make a gun collectible," Murph said. "The customer must understand that. We will not insult his grandfather's old shotgun. But odds are it does not hold collector value, and we have to buy or trade on the basis of real value."
Once Murph determines the used gun offered is re-saleable, he checks carefully for condition.
"We no longer do general gunsmithing, but we still have the expertise and facility to ensure a used gun is a good buy for the next owner," Murph said. "Even a well-cared-for, previously owned rifle, shotgun or handgun may require a little work. Especially important, all safety features must function properly."
Murph insists on a careful bore-check. If the bore is dark, he insists that information be passed on to the next owner.
"We cannot determine a potential metallurgical problem. But we can make sure the gun is sound. We want the customer to enjoy a good experience in buying a used gun from us. The better condition," he adds, "the higher the marketability."
A Good Deal
In talking profit, Murph says it's important to keep the price reasonable.
"If the gun is a trade, we need to make 20-percent profit. If we buy the gun outright, we need to make 20 percent. Even if it was purchased from our store, we still must realize 20-percent profit. While that is not a high-dollar return, we know keeping the price right brings customers back again and again," Murph said.
That is the goodwill aspect of the used...