I have made my living in the shooting sports industry since 1981, and agree with Miles Hall's (H&H Gun Range) article in the March 2009 issue ("Dealers' Troubles Are The Industry's Troubles.")
I have often wondered why firearms retailers pay extra insurance to sell firearms, provide the time and effort it takes to comply with the ever-changing state and federal laws to sell firearms, and yet we are still happy when we sell a firearm at a 10- to 15-percent margin.
The industry, as a whole, would be much better served if firearms drew, at minimum, a 25-percent margin at retail. This would allow dealers to advertise and attract new shooters to our sport. No one thinks twice when selling clothing or knives at a 50-percent margin--and both take much less work than selling firearms--but try selling firearms at a 25-percent margin (at least before the "Obama factor") and see what your customer response is.
Here is a list of some of the things I would like when dealing with firearm manufacturers and distributors.
Don't compete against me. It is very disheartening to have a guest tell me he can buy a hard-to-get 20-round magazine for his rifle from the factory Web site at the same price or less than I pay for it when mine are on backorder from all my distributors. I think that if the manufacturer feels they have to sell accessories on their Web site, they should be at MRSP or above, with a healthy shipping cost.
And, they should only be offered after the dealer channels are filled.
Offer a decent 100-percent co-op program so we can afford to advertise your product and the shooting sports to the public.
Don't give away the products I make money on; we make 40 percent on holsters and some accessories, so don't package them with a firearm I'm only making 10 to 15 percent on. It is hard to stay in business on the tight margins, so don't give away my profit. Instead, offer an instant coupon of $20 to $25 good at the time of purchase towards anything in the store (except the firearm). Smith & Wesson did this years back and it...