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RETALES: You don’t carry that?

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At some point in their lives, everyone has darkened the door of a retail firearms establishment, whether it’s to buy the latest new thing, shoot at a range, or just pick up a firearm they bought off Grabagun for 10% less than wholesale; we’ve all been there.
After having every other job in the firearms industry including media, sponsored shooter, and a whole bunch of other things I’m now running one of the largest brick and mortar gun stores in South Florida. I didn’t believe a lot of the stories I’d heard from my friends who worked retail until I decided to do it myself, and as it turns out they’re all true.


“Do you guys have a holster for this” asked the customer, as he pulled his fully loaded pistol from its case and began waving it around the store. After securing his wildly straying firearm, I asked the customer what type of gun it was. “It’s the newest gun from Croatistan’s rapidly burgeoning gun industry, the Arktac9, it’s made by monks who’ve never seen sunlight and have spent their days honing their machining skills, so it shoots sub 1-inch groups at 50 yards with gun range handloads! I’m surprised you don’t have one in the store already!”

So begins the tale of “No, I don’t carry that, but I can special order it for you.” Unfortunately, a lot of customers think that gun stores should be like giant museums full of every kind of gun imaginable, almost more of a tourist attraction than a functioning business. But like any retail establishment, the stuff we sell costs us real American dollars, so we have to make choices about what to stock and what not to stock. It’s the same as when clothing stores do huge pushes to get rid of their winter clothes at the start of spring; all that unsold merchandise represents real money that was spent to acquire it, and if it’s just sitting, out it goes.

Sig M11

To avoid having a ton of sunk cost and in an attempt to keep overhead low in order to compete with the internet, a lot of stores including mine focus our inventory on “turn and burn” guns; things like Glocks, M&Ps, etc. Sure, we’ll keep a couple of weird guns around for people to mess with and to get people into the store, but a gun that sits around for over a week is probably not the sort of gun I’m going to bet my paycheck on. Unfortunately, not everyone gets that…

“Welcome sir, how can I help you today?” The gentleman striding into my store seems filled with a sense of purpose, like a man on a mission. He’s here to buy, I can smell it on him, and it smells like I’m not eating Ramen this week. He made a beeline for me, eyes gleaming.

“Do you carry the KRISS Vector 9mm pistol with the arm brace?” As he scanned the long gun wall behind me, his face started to fall as he didn’t see his dream gun.

“No sir, I’m sorry we don’t have one of those in stock, however, I can order one for you and it will be here in two business days.” I knew this wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear, but what do you expect? This is s small shop, and seeing as he was the first person in nine months to even say the words “KRISS Vector” to me, well you do the math. Everything was still going fine, right up until he said the most dreaded words in retail: “Do you think you might have one in the back?”

No we don’t have another one in the back

No we don’t have another one in the back

Now, I don’t know what people who ask this question are thinking, but “the back” of the store is full of boxes, a broken forklift, and a snowblower, along with the broken hopes and dreams retail employees. It certainly isn’t a magical Indiana Jones warehouse full of lost treasures like $1,500 semi-auto pistols and the Ark of the Covenant. “Sorry sir, unfortunately we only have what’s on display.” I offered to special order it again, but the customer really wanted to hold it first. I’ve discovered what a powerful drug instant gratification can be, so I let him hold a CZ Scorpion instead, which he did end up buying. But the moral of the story is that when you’re shopping for something weird, call ahead. We might just happen to have it, but if we don’t, you save yourself a trip.

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