Are Big Box Retailers Failing Shooters? I Think So | Gun Guy Thoughts

With Gander Mountian going out of business and rebranding to Gander Outdoors as well as sporting goods giant Cabela’s being sold recently, one has to stop and ask, what are they doing wrong? I think they are failing shooters and not because of price, but selection.

I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a big box sporting goods store in search of a piece or part that I need for a review or gun build only to leave the store empty handed. This happens far too often where I don’t have something I need and don’t much care about the brand, model, or other particulars, so I set out on a mission. Nine times out of ten I leave the store empty handed even though I entered the building with the intention of spending money.

A great example of this is I went out in search of some 34mm rings to mate the Bushnell HDMRII that I have on loan (and will probably purchase) to the Bergara B14 HMR that is also on loan. I went to no less than three separate retailers in search of ANY 34mm rings so I could get out on the range the next day. Not only did they not have a single set of 34mm rings, but the employees at each one of the stores acted as though I was insane for asking for the size.  It isn’t that I don’t want to spend my dollars locally, just that they don’t ever seem to have what I need.

It seems as though these stores have the shelves stocked by buyers that either doesn’t know much about shooting or nothing at all. A quick glance around just about any sporting goods store that clearly has a focus on firearms and it is easy to spot the trend from the aisles full of product that ranges from pure crap to mediocre at best.

I get it though, the general gun buying public doesn’t care to spend a bit more on specialized parts, nice scopes and rings, and firearms that might be a bit outside the norm.

My friends that work for retailers that sell both the mass market junk that big box stores have become so fond of, as well as the more specialized and higher end product, have a unique perspective. They tell me that customers that talk to a sales person with a sound knowledge base and the ability to articulate why spending a bit more on something is a good idea, they typically opt to pay a bit more for the better product. This begs the question if big box retailers hired employees based on knowing their stuff instead of paying so many dollars an hour to whatever warm body shows up reliably, would they sell more good product and drive the need to stock higher end product?

I tend to believe that if big box stores hired staff that knows more that what they learned back in Nam or from Xbox, they might move the mid-level product more than the bargain junk that fills their shelves. Customer education is the number one tool of retail in my opinion and one that is often totally ignored.

I want to know what you think. Do you spend most of your gun dollars at physical stores or do you shop online mostly like I do? Do you even bother going into the local big box stores?

Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and TFBTV Host. He likes guns and has liked shooting guns for as long as he can remember. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Bon

    This article I dont agree with. You blame employees even though you need actual products people will come in for at decent prices. I worked at Gander and anyone who had a question on new items or info got related to me when I was there. Because I keep up for a variety of reason. It doesnt matter how knowledgable you are if you dont have the product in the stores. People going in either know what they want or have no clue. The latter can be lied to or not told the whole truth as I saw former coworkers do. But price and selection are why these guys are dying. Plain and simple. The middle man clueless buyers for these companies are way way way behind. Its not the employees they can be taught. Its whoever is dealing with selection and market trends.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Just because you are the exception to the rule doesn’t mean that every employee is worth a darn. I agree that the buyers are to blame, but most of the gun counter employees at big box stores don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.

      • Big Daddy

        Agreed, he is the exception and there are few.

      • pun&gun

        I’ve been to one Gander Mtn (Fredericksburg, VA) where the guy behind the counter really knew his stuff. Young guy, and he even owned an NFA item. He was the most helpful gun store employee I’ve ever interacted with.
        Every other experience, even in smaller gun stores, involved people who either knew nothing, or knew a little and *thought* they knew much.

      • Jared Vynn

        Unless a survey or study is done it’s all anecdotal evidence on both sides.

      • FightFireJay

        1- You were looking for a very uncommon part. Less than 1% of shooters use other than 1″/30mm tubes. The Cabela’s in Lacey that I work at usually has them, but I’ve only sold 1 pair in nearly 3 years.

        2- Cabela’s hasn’t been purchased by Bass Pro yet, and may not be the way things are going (public knowledge, no insider info here)

        3- Placing any sort of “rule” to have an exception to is highly inflammatory. Most of my coworkers not only care about their customers but are at least moderately knowledgeable in firearms in general and have an area or two that they specialize.

        No one can know everything. I can help you find 34mm rings, an AR that fits your needs, or a (nearly) perfect handgun fit. But I can’t tell you the differences between a Beretta 686 Silver Pigeon I and a 687 Silver Pigeon II.

        I get it, you had a bad experience looking for a specialized part. But have to be realistic about these sort of things (Logan 9 Fingers reference). You went to an outdoor sporting goods store and expected the type of service that a specialty shop like Bruno’s Shooter Supply would give.

        And, FYI, some of the folks there don’t have much patience either. So let’s try not to dump on the folks that get paid less than you because they didn’t know about or have the specialized thing you are looking for.

        • Reedin

          More and more, there’s a sense of elitism here that makes it seem like half of the people here take joy in dumping on people that get paid less. This insistence that everyone get into the NFA game, for instance.

          • Gun Fu Guru

            That is my biggest complaint with the gun community. Heaven forbid I don’t spend $250 on a new Geissele trigger to replace the factory trigger that works just fine.

            Not everyone can afford 50+ NFA items like Alex C. (Where is he?)
            Not everyone can be an attorney like James.
            Not everyone can afford to be a stay-at-home dad like Patrick.

            There is nothing wrong with people having more. The issue is in how those “with” treat and talk about people “without.” This article doesn’t help.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            I wish someone had told me I was a stay at home dad, I wouldn’t have been working two jobs.

            Alex quit last year and moved on.

            You are correct that James is an attorney. Yay for being 1 for 3.

          • Gun Fu Guru

            TFB does not count as a job for anyone except Steve. Everyone else gets paid to give their opinions which they already would be doing (not in long form, mind you).
            The criticism of Alex is still valid, especially the “if you can’t afford pre-’86 prices, you shouldn’t have machine guns” mentality. (I knew he left; I was mocking everyone who asks where he is.)
            3 for 3.

          • If you believe that’s what Alex said, you have reading comp problems. Simple as that.

      • Gun Fu Guru

        @tfbpatrick:disqus You didn’t address his criticism. His comment – “[y]ou blame employees even though you need actual products [that] people will come in for at decent prices” – is very accurate. Even if the local employees knew the difference in scope sizes, it wouldn’t have helped because they still didn’t have the item. Even if the local BBS store could have special ordered the item for you, it wouldn’t have helped because you already planned to “get out on the range the next day.” The real question is: would you let the local big box store order it for you knowing that you could buy the item from Brownells [1] for less money or [2] get it quicker with next day shipping that BBSs don’t offer?

        Not to be rude, but have you every worked for a retailer in the back office? If so, how long ago was it? Your views may be as irrelevant to the modern day as the staff members you berated with knowledge from “Nam or from Xbox.”

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          I have within the last year.

          • Gun Fu Guru

            Please enlighten us on your retail experience.

            You still avoided the criticism: “[y]ou blame employees even though you need actual products [that] people will come in for at decent prices.” While I understand the sentiment that the retail industry has shifted from skilled salesmen to per-hour employees, it is misplaced in this instance for reasons that almost everyone who worked in a retail back office understand. Specialty items (like 34mm rings) will sit on the shelf and tie up a company’s resources; therefore, most companies don’t stock specialty items. For the companies that special order items, they know that customers are going to order it online for less money with standard shipping or expedited shipping that gets the product faster than the brick-and-mortar can receive it.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            That isn’t entirely true. If a store such as Cabela’s can justify having multiple $20,000 shotguns in inventory as well as high end scopes, ATVs and boats, there is no reason that they aren’t capable of stocking some $150 rings.

    • Big Daddy

      All are part of the problem. You are the exception. A gander mountain just opened a new store right next to Ft. Hood, a place filled with soldiers and their money waiting to be parted. So what do they do? Charge more for a used Glock than a new one. And they can get at blue pricing at a local Glock dealer for even less. Charge double the price for ammo as Academy a half-mile away down the main highway 190. Even Academy charges more than Walmart these days and more than most good online ammo places like SGA.

    • Ted Unlis

      So Bon, “got related to me when I was there”, is that sort of like getting “referred” to you? Too funny!

  • Ark

    Informed consumers don’t go to Gander Mountain. Thus, they carry products for the uninformed that are priced to take advantage of the uninformed.

    • pun&gun

      Oh, I *go* to Gander Mountain often. I just don’t *buy* stuff there. It’s great for handling firearms to see how you like them.

      • Gun Fu Guru

        @pungun:disqus That is the same reason people go to Barnes and Noble: to see what they like before they buy it on Amazon for much less money.

        • PeeDee

          Exactly – so what is the benefit of the retailer to spend the money to carry it, educate their employees, and pay the employees to educate the consumer only to have them buy it online from someone who doesn’t know anything about the product except it’s in their catalog? I think that basically answers the question of this entire article.

          • Jeremy von Kesselburg

            The advantage is that the dealer should be able to get better distribution costs than smaller vendors with less inventory.

        • Rooftop Voter

          Did just that last Christmas. The gf was into Rachel Ray cookbooks and hinted about a particular one. Went to B&N, found it, fell over at the 40 dollar price tag, left store, ordered same thing from Amazon on my phone while in the parking lot. Shipped to house, 19 bucks. There, that was easy.

        • richard kluesek

          & have a coffee while browsing

      • Treyh007

        This is exactly what I would do before my local store shut down. Always had a good selection (at least better than any other gun store in my area) so I would go handle the ones I was interested in but would order online. Usually a online retailer out of state to save on tax.

        • Ark

          It’s really worth giving up a little extra money to avoid the online hassle and patronize a store you enjoy.

          Or, so I tell myself, every time I walk out of the store without paying $330 for a 91/30 or $700 for a Yugo M48 or $1,600 for a Garand.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      Informed customers go there when they need something in a pinch.

      • Rooftop Voter

        A really desperate pinch at that.

    • derpmaster

      These stores are basically outdoors camping, clothing, and fishing stores with a gun department tacked on. I’m sure if you broke their revenue down by segment, firearms and accessories would be dead last and clothing would be number one.

      Also for any niche interest, you are going to be ordering online. Gun parts, car speed parts, specialist tools, etc. etc. – no stores carry this stuff. This is nothing new, we used to have things called catalogs and order via telephone.

      • Miguel Raton

        I worked for Oshman’s back in the ’80s [anyone remember them? Horribly mismanaged company, ran on nepotism, all the upper management was intermarried, but I digress…] and 50% of the floor space was devoted to softgoods [aka “clothing” to the fortunate reader who’s never worked retail hell…. 😉 ] So you’ve got the order wrong in your description above, it s/b: “they’re outdoor clothing, camping & fishing stores w/ a gun dept. etc.”

        And I agree completely about niche interests needing to go online in the new millennium: B&M retailers are under too much pressure to stock anything that doesn’t reliably move off the shelves. And 34mm rings? I’ve never even *heard* of them before today!

    • richard kluesek

      well explained

  • Matt

    I really only buy powder, primers (due to excessive hazmat shipping fees) and occasionally cleaning supplies. Generally, price is my biggest complaint as well as selection. I’ve never even bought a firearm from one of these “big box”stores unless you count palmetto state armory in SC where I live.

    • A couple of 8lb containers of powder and the hazmat fees are nothing.

  • Michael Dellinger

    I think the problem for the big box store is paying for experience , they have so many employees it would raise cost. Although one experienced manager would go a long way.

  • Ted Unlis

    I definitely believe that a warm body for the lowest possible wage is the hiring strategy for all big box stores including those that sell sporting goods and firearm related merchandise. When I read ignorant comments posted on various gun blogs I always wonder what percentage of those folks making the ignorant comments are simply repeating what they’ve been told by the “kid working the gun counter at Gander Mountain”.

    • Twilight sparkle

      It’s been my experience that the most knowledgeable person at big box gun counters is also usually among the youngest ones working there. Sure some of the young people that work there have no business being there but the same has been true for a greater percentage of the few old people that work there.

  • M.M.D.C.

    My experience at the GM in my area (currently liquidating its inventory) mirrors yours.

    Maybe their business model is flawed. I think ‘big box’ type stores and the attendant vapid consumerism aren’t a good fit for American gun culture. In other words, you can’t sell guns the same way you sell laptops because guns will never be mainstream consumer items the way laptops are.

  • Mike Crumling

    In order to attract employees who actually know something, the big box stores are going to have to pay far better than the just over minimum wage that they are so fond of offering. Decent employees will not work for crap pay.

  • QuadGMoto

    I’ve been noticing problems with big box stores in general, not just in the firearms industry. Computer stores are another example. Just try to find a network switch any more advanced than a simple 8 port switch in a store. (Let alone a 24 or 48 port managed switch needed by decent sized companies.) Tape backups? What’s that? A good quality (mechanical switch) keyboard? Nope. Basic computer parts? Not likely. Video switch? Low end junk, only. Slightly different cable? “We can order it for you.” There are occasional stores (one per 150 miles or more) that stock things like that, but they are the exception.

    I’ve seen the same with hardware stores, and the like, too. It seems to be a mentality of never stocking anything that they don’t sell every single day, even if it’s something the customers will certainly need at some point.

    I do make an effort to buy from local firearms dealers because I want them to stick around. But sometimes it’s really hard when the don’t have—and often can’t even get at a competitive price—something specific that I’m looking for.

    • raz-0

      As far as I can tell, big box stores have one of two modes. They either try selling something to everyone or they try selling everything to someone.

      If the store is new, or if they are in the middle of nowhere, it’s usually the former. They will try to stock a variety of stuff so that they are broadly appealing to as many people as possible. Once they are established, or in more population dense areas, the next time they restock, they seriously cut back the variety severely.

      However, when it comes to guns, they are even worse than that. At least with other stuff, when they have limited variety they usually also have good prices. On the gun side of the house, they maybe do that with ammo… sometimes.

      • QuadGMoto

        On the gun side of the house, they maybe do that with ammo… sometimes.

        On that point, you’re more generous than I am.

        I strongly suspect that the underlying cause is MBA’s who only know what they’ve been taught in school compared to those who actual live and breathe the business and their customers’ needs.

    • Paul White

      I don’t think it’s rational to expect niche professional grade hardware at a consumer store; I wouldn’t expect a regular car dealership to sell 18 wheelers and bulldozers after all.

    • Wild Bill

      “Tape backups?” or token ring network cards, let alone monochrome monitors. 😉

      • QuadGMoto

        I’m still using tapes. They beat the snot out of hard drives in the $$/GB metric. I’m working on upgrading to a newer (faster, more cost effective) tape system soon. Any decent sized company should be (and usually is) using them.

        People should be backing up for when—not if—their data goes sideways. Computer stores should be selling backup solutions along with the computers. But considering the absolute lowest bidder garbage most people are willing to put up with as “keyboards,” it doesn’t surprise me that retailers are falling for—and to—the lowest cost race to the bottom.

        • BillyOblivion

          How often do you test your restores?

          I have a hard time trusting tapes.

          • QuadGMoto

            Part of the nightly backup process is a verify pass to make sure the data is written correctly. I occasionally catch bad tapes that way. There is also a separate set of tapes for each day of the week, so if there’s a problem with one, there’s another option.

            I also have a backup hard drive that gets updated every night to be an exact copy of my primary drive. If something goes wrong on the primary, I can immediately reboot to the backup and recover from there. (This has saved my sanity a number of times.)

            Finally, my bulk data is stored on a RAID 5 setup with a hot spare drive so that if I lose a drive, the spare can take over without any data loss.

            And not one of these pieces of gear was purchased from a local store, because none of them were even available locally.

    • El Duderino

      Fry’s is about as good as it gets around these parts for commercial grade hardware and gear. Best Buy, office products stores, Wal-Mart…fuhgeddaboudit.

      As others have posted, you can’t expect local stores to stock stuff like 127TB NASes, 48 port switches with OC jacks, etc. Move too slow and lose value too fast.

      • QuadGMoto

        Yep. Fry’s is one of those exceptions. But as far as I know, they’re west coast only. In my area, there are very sparsely scattered Micro-Center stores that carry components and more “advanced” gear.

        A couple of years ago I was desperate for a replacement trackball. The one I had died and the ones carried by the big box stores are simply junk. I had to drive nearly 2 hours to the closest of those stores to buy the kind of trackball that should be a standard stock item along with computers, especially since those stores routinely stock other items from the same manufacturer.

        Like I said, they are the exceptions, not the rules. Too bad someone couldn’t look at how automobile garages are supplied with parts and adapt that model to other industries.

    • WANDERLUST srt

      With the exception of the switch point why not just cloud backup?

      • QuadGMoto

        I do database development. Trying to shove terabytes of data over even my fast connection isn’t practical. (The initial backup of everything, or a full restore.) There are days when multiple gigabytes of fresh changes are added.

        I long ago discovered (the hard way) that even people who backup just their data are under-protected. If you lose your main hard drive you still have to restore all your applications, settings, licenses, passwords, etc. That can can keep you out of commission for far longer than you might think. I was down for days. The best solution is to back everything up.

        There is also the problem of events like viruses, data corruption, accidental deletes or replacements, and so forth when you will need to go back to a particular point in time. That means multiple copies of your files, saving changed versions at each backup. That is a lot of data even for an average person.

        Of course, those backups should be made to storage other than your main hard drive, because if you get a hardware failure or wipe of the drive, that will take out your backups, too.

  • Edeco

    Yeah, I mean, I got one of those expanding chairs for $6 at a Dick’s which is nice. But they’re not going to have that advanced of equipment in any one sport. It’s probably OK for families with kids when they need a commodity-grade lacrosse scoop or whatever and don’t have time for shipping.

  • Chris

    I concour. I think the issue isn’t the employee as much as the buyers. They go for wide pass and check boxes. Not providing what customers want in terms of quality or selection. I went recently for a 7.62×39 ar magazine and none to be found. I was also looking at Dewey rods but a token selection. It was close but off by a mile.

  • Rick

    I disagree with your first paragraph. The big stores like Gander are failing in price as well as selection. I haven’t been into the local Gander in years except to pick up a gun raffle win every now and then. There are two smaller gunshops in the area that are very reasonable with a good selection. The majority of my gun purchases come from these shops but 95% of my accessories are bought online. An example; a Mossburg Shockwave can be bought online for $389…the local shop is selling them for $400. I’ll buy local.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      Thus why brick-and-mortar is dying. You want it cheap but don’t mind waiting. The business model of a local store (gun industry included) prevents low prices and wide selection.

      • BillyOblivion

        Actually, he just said the opposite. If it’s only a little more expensive he’ll buy local.

        Gander mountain didn’t fail because their gun stuff was more expensive, they failed because *everything* was more expensive.

        • Hardwood83

          One little edit- “Gander mountain didn’t fail because their gun stuff was more expensive, they failed because *everything* was *WAY* more expensive.”

        • camosoul

          Wildly more expensive. And right next door to reasonable prices on identical goods… The problem isn’t that they are retail. The problem is that they’re doing it wrong.

  • Mike N.

    You could have just written that these big box stores mostly cater to, for lack of a better phrase, fudds, and been done with it.

  • ironked

    Isn’t that the general definition of Big Box? It’s a general business model. Walmart, Target, Costco. Sell lots and lots of a variety of only the most inexpensive stuff that sells the most. Volume over quality. Lower profit for quick turnover. Low skill wages. No dependence on specific knowledge. Stores common as weeds. Gander’s problem is that they built the big boxes and didn’t follow the rest of the rules. If they had, their gun section would have looked like Dicks or even Walmart. A small selection of the quickest movers. No used. Only the 10 top calibers. Expensive clothing and crappy discounts breaks the model. I’m not sure a sporting goods store is even applicable. Too narrow. The big ones are failing in the Internet age. They don’t even have to sell federally controlled commodities.

  • Pete Sheppard

    I have always been impressed with the Gander Mountain store in Huntsville. Good selection of guns and accessories, AND a very nice ‘library’ of used guns.
    Easy ordering and unlimited selection via the Internet is an extremely hard challenge to overcome. Personal, knowledgeable service is the key to competing; drop that ball and you’re sunk.

  • A.WChuck

    Shopping online is why local stores do not carry large amount of inventory. Local stores, even big box retailers, have a massive overhead compared to our favorite web stores and cannot compete on price unless MAP pricing is in effect. No store that wants to survive longer than one year will have a bunch of inventory of esoteric items. Why do you think big box stores like Gander, Bass Pro, Cabelas, et al devote so much space to clothes and shoes? Because clothes and shoes meet the needs of the broadest possible market and make a for a good profit center.

  • There is no reason to shop at a big box sporting goods store if you know what you want and have a transfer friendly FFL nearby. I can, if I so desire, order almost any firearm from my smartphone and arrange to pick it up – within a two week (usually one week) timespan.

    Midway, HK parts, Amazon, and numerous other websites can ship anything I want to my house. The selection is unbeatable, the prices the lowest, and convenience the highest. You’d be amazed at the little stuff that no brick & mortar store will carry!

    Case in point: I needed a camp shovel for my vehicle to complement the snow shovel. Of the big box stores I searched (5, locally) they had: nothing, nothing, nothing, a glorified garden trough, and a SOG entrenching tool kit marked over online costs. I bought a stout Cold Steel shovel for $30 on Amazon instead.

    If you shop big box, you’re paying for immediacy and/or ignorance.

    • QuadGMoto

      And if they refuse to carry it, you don’t even get immediacy.

      Another reason to shop locally is the ability to inspect the merchandise before purchasing.

  • Spencerhut

    You stock the store with what people buy. Most gun / ammo consumers don’t know much about what they are buying. Why buy some stupid 34mm, or even a 30mm scope when this Tasco in the blister pack is only $49 at Walmart?
    Hate to break it to you but the general gun buying public are not up to speed on what is good, bad or ugly in the gun world. The smart ones listen to educated resellers or educate themselves, they are more rare than you might think. Over 90% buy whatever is cheap. That is why the big box stores stock common cheap stuff, most consumers don’t really know what they are buying anyway.

    If it does not turn / sell on a fairly regular basis . . . why stock it? If you have a better quality / high end item that does not turn frequently it increases the cost of stocking that item, that increases the retail price and smart / informed people simply come into your store to see/feel the item and buy it on line the cheapest place they can find it.
    Firearms retail is a hard business.

  • Ryan L

    There is no way to summarize exactly what’s wrong in a simple comment but here goes – Yeti Coolers.

    • Frank

      Pelicans coolers are better anyway.

      • Treyh007

        Actually RTIC products are just as good but half the price of all those “Big Names”.

  • Darhar M.

    Comparing what someone learned in Viet Nam and a gamers knowledge of combat and weapons is funny.

    Gander Mountain failed not because people working there were not up on the latest greatest weapons or accessories but because their prices were too high and they would not budge on them.

    • dkhdkfasdjkf

      True. Easy problem to solve, once you make the decision.

    • Zack mars

      Funny, but true.

      I go into a store, i don’t need to hear about small unit tactics, nor do i need to hear how awesome your K/D rate is. Neither background makes you an expert in small arms, nor do you need to be a vet or gamer to be an expert in small arms

      Someone who stopped learning about firearms back in the 70’s is just as bad as some guy who never started

  • USMC03Vet

    This story reminds me of trying to find computer parts at retail stores. You can’t. If they carry the type of thing you’re looking for it’s usually one or two products with both being super overpriced as though the internet doesn’t exist. Meanwhile online you can find dozens and dozens of the thing you’re looking for. That is essentially the downfall of retail. Limited space and speciality items being passed over for more popular or higher profit margin items.

    If your an educated consumer looking for something specific usually big retail just isn’t for you.

    • Holdfast_II

      Right – but the problem comes when it’s a Sunday, you have a disassembled computer all over your desk, and you realize you need that one part to finish the project. And the local Best Buy can’t get it in stock for at least 2 business days.

      • GaryOlson

        You have multiple guns in case one is out for repair, right? Why don’t you own multiple computers? Both are personal equipment/tools with known limitations like a tendency to break at the wrong time.

        • Holdfast_II

          1) Desktop computers take up a lot more space than guns, so it’s tough to have as many.

          2) Computers become obsolete much quicker than guns – I have a WW II made Hi-Power that would make a perfectly acceptable home-defense gun today. I don’t think I could do my work on a WW II ENIAC or whatever. Assuming it would fit in my house.

          3) I do have more than one computer – but each has a specific purpose. They’re not completely interchangeable.

          4) When I start a task I’d prefer to finish it the same day – if that means a quick drive down to the store, so be it. Assuming that there’s a store that has the part.

          5) I don’t want computer bits spread all over my office for the next few days. I need that space.

        • BillyOblivion

          On my desk right now is a Dell Precision 690, a 27″ iMac and my work laptop. An old Dell D620 is next to it (running), and there’s a Mac SE on the other desk, but the keyboard for it is missing a key, and I can’t find a ethernet card for it.

          I’m upstairs typing on the “travel laptop”.

          I think that’s enough redundancy without getting into the offline stuff.

      • BillyOblivion

        Do you know that:
        * It is, with sufficient force, possible to get the power plug for a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive on upside down.
        * This will cause the magic smoke to evacuate the drive.
        * With the smoke gone the drive will no longer work.
        * Even in Chicago, in 1996 there was no place that would sell you a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive at 1:30 in the morning.

        • Holdfast_II

          A 5 1/4″ floppy in 1996? Dude, you were retro before retro was cool! I have to be honest – it’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those. Was the plug the same as HDD or a 3.5″, or was it something else entirely?

          I too lost control of some important magic smoke a couple of times in the 1990s.

        • Stephen Paraski

          In 96 we had just started using DOS at a major Municipal Utility and 5 1/4″ floppy was it. The little one was for games you got from the Contractor installing systems.

      • JT Wise

        There’s this new-fangled invention that could alleviate that problem – it’s called a smart phone. Turns out it’s actually a computer! Browsing the Internet and ordering merchandise on a cell phone isn’t necessarily the best experience, but it is do-able.

      • billdeserthills

        Too bad nobody considered that when Radio Shack was still around

    • Gun Fu Guru

      Big box stores try to sell:
      — complete items (e.g. guns and computers),
      — necessary replacement parts (e.g. charging handles and chargers), and
      — consumables (e.g. bullets and batteries).

      They lose money by trying to sell vanity items (since everyone has different tastes) and speciality items (because not enough people need what they could stock). This is online warehouses (Brownells, MidwayUSA, Amazon, etc.) thrive. They can hire a high school graduate to pick items and fulfill the shipping requirements. They don’t need any knowledge about the items at all for the business to thrive.

    • WANDERLUST srt

      Actually I find micro center and frys to both be decently equipped. Now if you want a very specific mainboard or something, your right you may need to order it, but if your just fixing something or are at all willing to compromise they do have stuff, sometimes very cheap too.

    • Mystick

      Yeah…. I went all over the place trying to find a SATA cable. The places sold hard drives, but no SATA cables. But they each had a WALL of 50 different HDMI cable flavors.

    • squareWave

      I do miss the days of small independent computer shops, where you could buy individual components like cases, motherboards, CPUs, etc.

      It’s the same with cars now. Instead of parts and components, the thing is just sold and disposed of as a single unit. It’s basically just a black box, the internal workings pretty much inaccessible to the end user now.

      I’m hardheaded though, and still like to build/repair/upgrade things myself even if it would be cheaper and easier to just replace the whole thing. We risk losing know-how and capability if we don’t.

    • Stephen Jakubowski

      I guessing you don’t have a microcenter in your area. There a commuter electronics chain that is light on media and software. The store is ruffly split in thirds between computers and electronics, accessories and networking, and pc components. They’er price competitive with newegg; so much so that the last pc I built there CPU motherboard combo was the cheapest I could find.

  • GhostTrain81

    Gander is garbage period (at least one of the stores here in SE Michigan)… but generally speaking all brick and mortar retailers are struggling right now. There isn’t anything on their shelves you can’t find on Amazon (sans firearms) for a better price.

  • Sua Sponte

    Mostly shop on line…If I am near a store I will go in just to look around and maybe find something I’d like, especially if it’s at a good price compared to on line….I did go into Gander a few months ago, no agenda for any particular item, I did however think about picking up a Limb Saver slip on for one of my AR’s and wanted to check their prices….Asked a sales person, who worked in the firearms area if they carried them in the store, after about ten seconds of just staring at me I realized I had to actually explain to him what it was and even then only got shoulder shrugs and questionable looks from him…Finally just thanked him and went my way…Empty handed….No different than Lowe’s or Home Depot, I always seem to get the individual working a department that has absolutely no clue about the items, their use, or location for the area they work in…


    There is a huge difference between the mainstream gun owner and you and me. We are hard core gun enthusiasts. The hardcore gun enthusiast, not unlike the hardcore car enthusiast, or the xxxxxx (put the activity here) enthusiast, represents a tiny percentage of the group of firearms owners as a whole. These stores do NOT cater to us. Nor should they. They would have gone out of business ages ago if they did. Stocking all kinds of odd sized and low volume selling items.

    I don’t shop at these stores for the reasons you outline here. They never have what I need. Nor should they. The problem is you, not the these stores.

    • Keiichi

      More and more people are carrying concealed, and getting involved in the shooting sports – and becoming discerning gun enthusiasts in the process.

      Patrick’s point, which I agree with, is that these stores need to change with this trend to survive when online competition is so strong.

      • Dan

        More and more people are getting into the gun scene, they start out basic which is where the big stores come in they have basic stuff. Even if they end up looking for those 34mm scope rings we are still a tiny percentage of the market. These stores carry the “popular” stuff that some statistical nerd has figured sells well enough to be put in the store. When theres demand for 34mm rings they’ll be more common on the shelves. The big box stores are One size fits most type of operation.

    • Ken

      Yep, I stay away from gun stores too for that reason. The FFL system keeps them in business.

    • Tom Tweney

      Have we forgotten that our current Government is making it impossible for businesses to grow or even stay in business with energy prices out of control , particularly in Ontario, crazy regulations which put a strain on profits and now CARBON TAX the business killer. Get rid of the Liberal Reign of Terror and business will prosper.

      • basinman

        I highly agree!

    • markej4801

      Nicely stated, Jason B. Agree completely that specialized parts of this nature are just that–specialized. If the retail outlet had an ordering department (both online and in store) where you could go to order something of this nature, I think they would have a short but very happy line of specialized customers. Instead, these customers go unserved and their business and loyalty as a result is lost. Find the niche and fill it to reserve the customer base.

    • BeenThereDoneThat

      I consider myself a 73 year old “hardcore gun enthusiast”, but I ain’t crazy! For the price of one of those 34mm scopes, rings and bases, I can hire someone to go get me a deer or whatever one wants to shoot.

  • JMR

    One of the bad effects of capitalism, same reason why Remington can get away with throwing a cheap Magpul stock in a cheap r700 and charge more then what it would cost to buy them both and still sell them like hot cakes.

  • bjeremy

    I used to do quite a bit of shopping at Sportsman’s Warehouse, but the last couple times I went there to buy a firearm I couldn’t get anyone behind the gun counter to help me. I had cash in hand, and was staring at the exact gun I wanted behind the counter, and the staff ignored me (chatting among themselves or looking at catalogs). Pretty bizarre, but if they don’t want my money I’m happy to shop elsewhere. Haven’t set foot in one since.

  • dkfjsdklfjlsej

    As a buyer for a major firearms retailer, I have a few opinions I’d like to share.

    First, there are absolutely SOME buyers who don’t know enough about their categories and make poor decisions because of it. MOST buyers in firearms related categories are pretty knowledgeable though. It’s surprisingly difficult to find qualified buyers that do know, FWIW. The industry is also filled with poorly qualified ones that know their products well, which isn’t any better. If it’s a bad buy, it’s a bad sell, so to speak.

    Regarding retail sales, somewhat the same problem. Firearms counter is usually paid well over minimum wage, but it’s hard to find knowledgeable staff that is good at interacting with customers. It’s a constant problem in any retail environment that requires detailed product knowledge.(think electronics) Please also keep in mind that a VAST majority of the customers served are low-med-knowledge consumers. They buy less expensive, basic, items. It takes a qualified buyer to be able to put together an assortment that carries those products and still has the budget to carry some of the higher-end, lower-turning items that most of your readers are looking for.

    The factor that wasn’t mentioned is overall leadership at these large retailers. Often times, general pricing strategy is conceived and managed by their direction, out of the hands of a lot of the buyers. Not passing the buck, but it’s a reality that needs to be acknowledged before you guys sell us buyers down the river. It’s never as simple as it seems from the outside.

    My general response though, is that while you hit some of the broad points, there is a lot you just don’t seem to be aware of within large retail. Obviously, without working there, how could you know?

    You’re right that we need to carry a broader selection of products and price-points. It’s very difficult to do profitably, but those who do it well will succeed. You’re also right that we need to price things competitively. If we’re not taking advantage of our size, to out-price everyone else, why are we even here? It will take time, but someone will do it, and they’ll be rewarded. Just bear with us. It’s a big ship to turn and everyone is still getting used to the new dynamics brought about by the current political climate and proliferation of internet-only retailers.


    • Paul Prochko

      Well put dkfjsdklfjlsej

    • MiamiC70

      Enjoy your ship ride into retail oblivion.

      • dlkfjslkjfljsd

        Clever. Tell that to Best Buy.

        • MiamiC70

          Subsidized by manufacturers marketing dollars and incentives.

          • Djdjffndjfj

            Your point? They realize that it’s worth the investment. Retail is an experience and an opportunity to touch products. In a world of only Amazon’s mid and top-tier brands suffer significantly. Manufacturers recognize that and are providing the capital to allow customers to see their products and boost sales. They win too. Also, BBY has made significant moves in cost cutting. It’s not JUST vendor dollars. Everyone thinks retail is dead. Couldn’t be more wrong. It’s simply changing.

          • Bob Atom

            To me, places like BB are showrooms for internet sales. I did not like doing it back a few years but the retail prices were and are ridiculous. BB and others stay in business because of the ignorant and lazy consumer. Young people these days will pay whatever price is asked. Just look at Aimpoints, EOTecs, and SureFire. Emperors new clothes syndrome.

    • richard kluesek

      A point not made is the counterfieting issue. Brick ‘n mortar retailers and big boxes source out from the manufactures, you’re getting oem or at least authorized subcontractors within oem specs. On line. ebay, amazon, whoever, you buy it no recourse. Even they may have been fooled. You find out when it does’nt fit or fails, even printed instructions and packaging is faked.

  • Steven

    Not sure what that cut on Nam vets was all about other than there seems to be a new generation that thinks they are way smarter than us. Tell me, where was your dad in the 60’s, sitting out the draft in a college some place? Might explain the lack of respect we get but hey us Nam vets never have gotten any respect from most of the country,

    • James I

      Technology has changed drastically since ‘Nam. What worked well for a lot of people “back in the day” has been out classed. The knowledge learned in the past is useful but not always relevant.

      • Steven

        And the world is full of way smarter guys like you James, right?

        • Zack mars

          Being in the military doesn’t make you a firearms expert.

          There’s no shame in that, and there’s no need to get mad when it gets pointed out.

          You served, thank you for that, but if you think 1911’s and M14’s are the greatest firearms ever because you used them in the military, and anything you didn’t use sucks, you are dead wrong

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    You highlighted the same primary 2 reasons that I believe that they are less than ideal.

    1) They streamline their stock to maximize profits. They dont have everything a shooter wants. Using shelf space to hold sets of 34mm rings for instance has little profit per square inch compared to their main stock. They are more concerned with maximizing profits from whatever schmoe walks in to the store than securing recurring customers. Im sure that corporate has a whole department to determine what products to stock and not stock and they have determined that the salaries for that whole department is worth the savings in a optimized (for the store, not consumer) product line.

    2) They hire whatever idiot they can to work the gun department who doesnt even know what gun to hand you when you ask for it by name unless you point at it. When you ask if they stock a certain part, they have to pull up the computer and search and then ask “Is this it?” because they obviously have no idea what you are even looking for.

    But I somehow keep going because 95% of the time they have what I need for a pretty darn good price.

  • Bierstadt54

    This is obviously a very important question, but I am not sure this is the answer. An issue, yes, but I am not certain where the money is for big outdoor retailers. My answer, if I owned a big outdoor retail store, would be to carefully examine the outdoor needs of the local community and stock accordingly (and update stock regularly), hire people who are active in each outdoor activity I stock for, and price according to what you pay for the same thing online. Three important things. Not sure how much profit you’d make, but it would be my approach.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      Unfortunately big box stores have most of those decisions made on the corporate level and are the same for the whole country. That and the type of people that have the experience base you describe wont work for $10/hr.

      • Bierstadt54

        Corporate level stocking decisions are foolish in my mind. It is certainly one of the problems. And yes, one has to pay more for good people. I’d rather have fewer good people than a bunch of know-nothings. Certainly that is my experience as a customer, anyways.

        • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

          I agree, but the executive types in charge prefer the stable and predictable return on their minimal investment. Thats the kind of person you get in corporate systems. Lots of manager types and few leader types. Managers love bureaucracy, systems, predictability, and safety. Leaders take risks and like quality over quantity. Leaders get sick of the bureaucracy and leave to start their own store. However leaders rarely have the means, opportunity, and desire (at the same time) to go beyond the one or two store level and break into a big box store scale of operations.

    • flyingburgers

      “price according to what you pay for the same thing online”
      Store bankrupt in a month. You realize how much a retail store costs in rent, electricity, labor, theft, insurance, fixtures? All costs that online doesn’t require.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      That’s a fair approach for a locally-owned store, but not it’s valid for chain stores. All the decisions (selection, quantity, price, sales, displays) are controlled by the headquarters staff so every store is the exact same (apart from the architecture itself). That enables the business managers – not the store managers – to control the finances of the entire entity.

      • Brian Menin

        Except that’s not true. Wal-Mart is an example of knowing their demographics, and catering to them. Just comparing my local store (in a college town) to one less than 20 miles away bears that out. Any successful chain offers their core products, AND products appropriate to their customer’s needs based on location. You won’t find giant dip nets in any Utah store, but they are in every Alaskan Wal-Mart.

        • Gun Fu Guru

          While Walmart is a chain, each store hires its own purchasers to stock the store from a master index of SKUs.

  • Johnny

    I actually prefer to buy guns and ammo in store than online. If im buying a gun, I, for the most part, purchase in person. I have been burned too many times when buying a new gun and something is wrong with it. It was even worse when I lived in california with all the wait times. I also like to keep my ammo purchases in store as well, and only buy from the big name stores or on rare occassions online. The reason being, the selection. In both CA and VA, every local gun shop I have been to, has carried only the cheap quality ammo, for 3-5 dollars more than msrp. Now, I understand they have to make some kind of profit, but at least sell some kind of higher end match ammo for the common calibers. I would pay a 5-10$ premium on any match ammo if it was sold locally. Instead I usually have to take a trip to a big name store, which costs more in time than money. In my opinion, if local gun stores stuck to selling decent quality ammo such as the various federal lines, remington hunting ammo, and a few boxes of some match ammo such as from hornady or federal, even with a 5-10$ increase over msrp, they would sell well. Now that example is just for rifle ammo, which is a rarity for me to find a decent amount of in local gun shops in the two states ive lived in. Handgun ammo has usually been good wherever I go, in that most stores have at minimum winchester white box, so youre not stuck buying wolf quality ammunition. I rarely buy online, although it is cheaper, because my particular schedule gives me only a week or 2 notice of when I have time off to go shooting, and in my experience and bad luck, ammo shipments never come in on time.

    Hopefully I didnt ramble on too much folks.

  • Hoplopfheil

    When I go to Sportsman’s I see weird bullshit that stays on the shelves forever​.

    Instead of carrying a nice spread of AR mags (only Bushmaster and Magpul), they have really weird stuff like a 5 round camo painted Remington AR mag that they’re asking $45 for.

    Nobody ever buys those. Why stock them?

  • John Hamblin

    I quit going to Dick’s for just this reason. Last 3-4 times I’ve gone there they’ve been out of what I wanted. I wonder if they’ll be next up for bankruptcy?

  • Russ Kell

    I think the only reasons I walk into a Gander, or Bass Pro has been to pick up odd items that end up costing more to have shipped. Like corn media, cleaning supplies, and the odd patch brush when I’m wandering down that aisle.

    Everything else either seems to be low-quality trash, or way, WAY overpriced.

  • Don Ward

    The question is why aren’t you shopping at your “local” gun store? Surely there are mom-and-pops in your area and my experience – at least in the Puget Sound area – is that most good local gun stores will have as good – or better – selection than your traditional box store. We don’t have Gander Mountains out here (unless one went in recently) but we do have Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, and Sportsman Warehouse (along with our “local” warehouse stores like Outdoor Emporium in Seattle and its sister store Sportco Warehouse in Fife). Oh yeah, and we have Big 5 up here. And the local gun stores usually have a better selection, at least the ones I choose to patronize.

    Even if I have to pay a buck or two more for a whatsit from a local gun store, to me it is worth it in order to help keep local gun guys in business and to develop a relationship with my local dealers. Particularly here in Washington state where we have to go through a NICS check for every firearms transfer even between private parties which usually entails having to go to the nearest gun store and have a licensed gun dealer do the transfer.

    As a consumer I want this option. All shopping at big box stores does is hand over your power as a consumer to far off and uncaring corporate entity whose only priority is to maximize profit in order to hit quarterly sales goals.

    • Zack mars

      It’s easy to say its a good idea to support your LGS, but lots of gun stores just plain suck.

      From terrible customer service, clueless employees, high prices, limited selection…

      I can go online, and buy all the mags and ammo i want, and not have to deal with the snotty counter jockey talking down to me

  • Cal S.

    I think my favorite part of going to Sportsman’s Warehouse is the Uncle Mike’s aisle.

    Yes, the entire aisle.

  • Bryan Krass

    I remember once going to a Bass Pro in Savannah, GA to buy some range ammo for my AR15 and they were dicks about me not wanting some fancy-ass varmint ammo. Buh-bye.
    Stores like those cater to, let’s be honest, cheap-ass hunters. The ones that buy one box of ammo every two years and expect ranges to let them use a lane for free because, “I only gots to shoot one bullet to see if it held zero.”
    Oh, and dude, while I have your attention, the HS2000 was make in Croatia.

  • Ken

    Getting rid of the FFL system and going back to pre-68 gun laws would solve this. It would drive out the run of the mill gun stores. People could buy their regular guns online and have them shipped to them, or even from big box stores. The gun stores that will remain will be specialty shops, with niche products for certain shooters.

    People buy their plain white T-shirt online or at Walmart. They wouldn’t go to a tailor for that. They do however still go to tailors to get a bespoke suit made or at least have an off the rack one fitted.

  • is this unique to firearms and sporting stores at all? i would presume that this is just a natural progression of ALL retail away from brick-and-mortar stores. personally, about a half dozen things have to go wrong in my life for me to try to purchase *anything* besides groceries or general purpose clothes in a real-life store.

    absolutely every article of article of consumer good that i own nowadays is ordered online. better pricing and way, way better use of my time.

    i think that brick-and-mortar is simply dying in general, and that’s a good thing (at least for me, since i’m not a cashier at Cabela’s)

  • El Duderino

    Online for new and pawn shops/specialty stores for used stuff. The big box retailers are either Fudd-focused or push tacticrap.

    A couple hunting seasons ago I argued with an older hunting buddy about his Cabelas branded scope. He swore it was made in the US since Cabelas is a US company. I told him the two have zero to do with one another and the majority of stuff in the store is made overseas. Not saying the US makes the best scopes…but his was clearly from China.

  • Gun Fu Guru

    You’re wrong to put that type of expectation on a big box store when you really needed a specialty store. Unfortunately, BBSs would need a huge warehouse attached to them to stock all of the oddities people want (and 34mm rings are an oddity considering that most sights come with rings). This is why Brownells, MidwayUSA, and others have stayed in business. Hell, it’s why Brownells was able to open a brick-and-mortar store last year.

  • yukon cornelius

    This article is spot on. Last trip to lgs, needed a scope mount for marlin 336(30-30). Not a rare firearm in the least. Been around awhile. Not a single base to be found, but saw bases for a slew of fairly uncommon rifles, covered in dust. The guy behind the counter then tells me they just order them as ppl need them. Well, i can do that!

  • Cesar Flores

    All they need is more Glock products. Duuuuh everyone knows that. get rid of all guns minus the Glocks fill every dam space with Glocks. Go in the restroom Bam Glock soap Glock TP etc you get the picture. But seriously Gander and BassPro prices are just too high for me anyways. It seems as though they count on a buyer not knowing or caring about their higher prices. The GM by the house has a Academy across the hwy and once in a while when Academy was out of AK ammo Id go to GM for the very same 40 rd box of Tula x39 1.90$ diffrence at 5 boxes. The mgrs comment “yeah i know just take it up their will mark it down” seems like GM would be inclined to lower their price on this and many other items I noticed guns included “will mark it down” at least if theirs a competitor across the rd.

  • Eric Lawrence

    Price, price, price. If my LGS buys and sells 5,000 Pmags a year and can sell them for $12.99 then why does Gander Mtn, who can move 100,000 a year, charge $19.99? Similarly if my LGS can sell 20 Glocks per week at $489.99 then why does Gander Mtn.who can sell 20 per minute nationwide, sell them for $599.99?
    Stupidity, greed, mismanagement, or a combination of all three.

    • Mystick

      A brick retail-facing sales floor is more expensive to operate than an internet-facing distribution warehouse.

      The internet has the following cost-benefits:
      1: Single point distribution centers have a larger market footprint since they ship rather than have local walk-in customers, and are therefore more efficient, and their locations are generally lower cost leases since they don’t require frontage.
      2: No sales force. You pay a one-time setup cost for page design and periodic maintenance by a handful of people. Brick stores require an ever-present sales force, whether there are customers or not, reducing overhead efficiency.
      3: One less step in the supply/warehouse-to-consumer chain. You eliminate the need to distribute to local stores and all that goes along with that including stock synchronization, restocking, and destocking.
      4: Every location has a overhead “floor” of costs that need to be paid out regularly such as local tax compliance, heating/AC, lot maintenance, building maintenance, mandatory minimum insurance and bonding, lease payments, security… it seemingly never ends.

      …it goes on and on..

      It sucks, but that’s how things are now.

      • BillyOblivion

        LGS is “Local Gun Store”, not an internet store.

  • Wanlace Yates

    I’ll throw out an example of how a big box retail store could pull this off. Anyone who owns guns and is close to Richmond has heard of Green Top. A ways back Gander Mountain threw in a big store just down the road, and everyone talked for a while about how they were going to put Green Top out of business. Bass Pro Shops even moved in around the same time frame. Well, turns out it was Gander Mountain that was forced to throw in the towel, and Green Top actually took over its nice new store to expand its operations.

    Chalk this up to Green Top having loyal customers, but also to having hard earned experience as a gun store first and thus staff and managers who know that part of the business really well. I think it is easier for a real gun store to expand into other outdoor sports lines than for a general retail store to get into guns and get it right. I think Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk is another good example of this. Anyone can sell clothes and footwear, and there are so many BS claims on gear for fishing that damn near anyone can give selling that a try, but gun related products tend to be more demanding on both the customer and sales staff side. Even just the legal compliance part outstrips other product lines.

    These big retailers also screwed up by trying to have it all at once. Too many stores thrown up too fast, without enough good staff and training to outdo or even keep pace with established gun businesses. I think it would be more feasible for a MidwayUSA or Brownell’s or Creedmoor Sports to add regional locations at a slow steady rate than it is for a big retail chain to really do the gun business and get it right as well as sustain profits.

    • Gun Fu Guru

      Green Top is locally owned. Gander Mountain is a chain, and it failed at the corporate level. Chain stores don’t allow individual stores to change anything because it messes with the logistics at the corporate level.

      • Wanlace Yates

        Sure, but it seems the point of the article is whether you could ever get the big retail experience to work well for knowledgeable gun owners, and my point is that it works better to scale up from the gun side first. Green Top provides the same sort of product lines and services that Gander Mountain did in the same location, but they can also do a good job serving the gun owner market because they started there. Midway and Brownell’s are both branching out into other product lines, but they will keep that core set of gun owner customers because they started there and prioritized that market.

        Walmart is in no danger of failing as a corporation, but I don’t think anyone thinks of them as a first rate gun store at the locations where they sell shooting related gear. But to your other point, they do seem to be able to do some useful differentiation among stores to suit local store sizes and market needs, and the fact that chains prefer one size fits all inventory does not mean that customers are obligated to just fall in when they have local and online options. This is why big retailers are having issues in the current market.

      • BillyOblivion

        That would be why Gander is a failure then.

        With sporting goods/outdoor stores you HAVE to give your local managers the responsibility to adjust to local conditions. You don’t need to stock very many “-30” sleeping bags in Southern Alabama, and deer season is different in every state.

      • Dr. Phil

        Typical of many big box stores and the corporate mindset. Worked many years in a tire shop in FL and one of the big sellers in the area was a tire size that fit 3 or 4 vehicles most preferred by FL retirees. We would order 60 and get 10 or 15 and they would sell out in a day or so. The buying office is located in Virginia and their response? “That tire model does not sell too well here.” Thank you, but in Florida they sell quite well, send us what we order. Took about a year before the bean counters realized that and we would then get what sold in our area, not what some pencil neck theorized would sell.

        Eventually the lightbulb lit up for them at corporate and we were given some leeway on popular sizes that sold in our location. It came down to a 70% corporate selection and we were given a 30% latitude in what would sell and surprisingly, it worked! Imagine that!

  • Sledgecrowbar

    I go to one once in a while just to get my shopping on and the only thing I’ve reliably left with every time is powder because it costs so much to ship powder and I buy maybe one or two pounds at a time. If I bought 16 pounds at a time it would be worth it for me to have it shipped. The big box stores seem to have better prices than the LGS’s for powder. Other than that, I check out the camping section and the whole gun section but nothing really jumps out at me. I’ve bought cases of shotshells from Cabela’s online because it was the best price and they even offered free shipping, considering what 1000 rounds of 12-gauge weighs that impressed me as to how much profit margin there is even at the lowest price on the internet. I certainly couldn’t ship 1000 rounds of 12 gauge for the $240 I paid for the ammo itself.

  • Matthew D Herrmann

    I’d also argue that for the money, guns are the only items a customer can’t demo in the store before the purchase.. Phones, televisions and other appliances can all be tested before I buy. Most gun stores around me don’t have ranges. Those that do aren’t setup to let a customer demo a firearm.

    • USMC03Vet

      I hate stores with ranges that only have certain brands available for rental so like 80% of the available models for sale aren’t avaible to rent but if it’s a Smith and Wesson you’re in luck. These place have deals with manufacturers to pull garbage like that to push only their product and it really annoys the hell out of me.

  • Asimzmn

    I remember buying a $60 HDMI cable from bestbuy once back in 2008. that was the last time i purchased anything from Bestbuy till date.

    • Darren Hruska

      Four foot $60 RocketFish HDMI cable? 2008 (or perhaps a tiny bit later), Best Buy did the same to me. Certainly NOT my proudest buy.

      • Asimzmn

        ha,,i feel you brother. my $4.99 HDMI (gold plated lol) cables from eBay and amazon are working just fine, makes it even more embarrassing.

        • Djfjfjdjdjfjj

          Give them another try. Pricing is much more competitive now.

        • mak13

          Getting screwed online is a lot like losing in Vegas; nobody ever talks about it but it does happen. Nobody wants to admit that they paid money for something sight unseen, and then didn’t get what they were expecting. Yes, it does happen. I haven’t lost more than I’ve saved online to be sure, not even close.

  • Raptor Fred
    • Gun Fu Guru

      Is that a Vickers edition or the MOS type?

  • valorius

    I think big box stores are dead men walking. That’s what I think.

  • Lead Kisses

    Pay peanuts, you get monkies.

    My local Cabela’s does have 34mm rings, btw.

  • willardandhisbowlingtrophies

    Customer service. Our local Cabela’s usually has
    two people behind the gun counter. Most of the time they are busy and you have
    four or five people waiting. I am not going to wait 45 minutes to get some

    Two words. ‘Price Match’. Best Buy was getting
    smoked by Amazon and they went to price matching and I think they are better off
    now. I worked at a college book store and we matched Amazon’s price for texts
    and it cost us a couple thousand dollars on two million in sales.

  • Just Say’n

    Recently had a bad experience purchasing a P320 from Sportsmans Warehouse. Their store 2 hours away had the only one left in the state (that I was able to find). I went to my local SW and asked for them to transfer it. They said “Sure! Should only take a couple of days.” They had me fill out some paperwork, called the other store and they agreed to send it over. Told me to come back Friday, which I did. Hadn’t arrived yet and they disappeared into the backroom for 20 minutes to find out what happened to my P320. I lost patience and asked one of the gun counter guys to call me when they figured it out. No phone call, so a week went by and I stopped in again. Same thing happened, just got a blank look and the employee disappeared into the back for 20 minutes. Again, I asked them to give me a call. They never did. After two weeks I had a chance to drive past the other store. I called ahead and they still had the P320. So I picked it up on my way home. A few days later I went back to my SW to get some ammo (had some rewards points to redeem). The gun counter guys saw me, didn’t say anything until I was exiting the store and half way to my truck when I heard “Sir! Sir! I think we can get that P320!” from behind me in the parking lot. I turned around and said flatly “No you can’t, I already drove down there and bought it. Got sick of waiting on you fools!”. Empty promises. Wish I could’ve found one somewhere else for the price…. Never going back there unless something I REALLY need is on sale and in stock.

  • Blackhorse

    So now a “specialty item” is supposed to be on hand at a “box store”? Really?
    Reminds me of the commercial of a girl ordering a turkey sandwich from a taco stand. LMAO too funny

  • Patriot Gunner

    “It seems as though these stores have the shelves stocked by buyers that either doesn’t know much about shooting or nothing at all.” Patrick you observation is spot on, but it goes beyond the big box stores all the way down the the local gun store. The same daft ignoramus warm body works at the local gun store as well. And those same idiot buyers are working at buying groups and distributors as well, buying up all kinds of garbage, which trickle down to the local gun store. Vast majority of local gun store owners are not shooters, just businessmen, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that, but they do not understand the market they are trying to serve (or gouge depending on who you ask). Retail is dying a slow and painful death, and I bet in the next 8 years a lot of the local gun stores will go bust. The ones who remain will actually know the products they are selling, not the ones trying to buy mexican ammo for $7 a box and trying to sell it for $17 saying “its just as good as the American made stuff!” Brick and mortar retail is dying, long live the internet!

  • Ace of Lances

    I couldn’t agree more! I like to Jerry around with my Enfields; try finding a Weaver base, stocks, resonator, barrel bands or sights (for anything other than AR) at big box! I own exactly zero new guns, but several old ones that require or could benefit from upgrades like new torx bolts, sights, rails, rings, triggers, etc. But I have to go the the local fishing store and ask around amoung the old guys who hang out there all day and usually end up buying a parts gun for thrice what the part I need would be considered a decent profit by a retailer.
    Seeing cheap plastic guns at these stores seems like a terrible waste of space. Even a simple hunter like me wants to see the nice Henry gear, not the plastic mossbergs (for levers). I want to drool over CZs, not Norinco rebranded (Bell!) .22s.
    And optics! Again, I have literally bought whole used guns with good scopes and simply transferred the scope to my own, because at least I know it’s paired right by some Oldtimer.
    Racks upon racks of XPs, 783s, AB3s, mossbergs and cheap looking Tikka crap doesn’t impress, again, even a simple needs guy like me. I’d rather a nice hardwood simple H&R pardner than the crappy plastic stuff. More hardwood, and people who know what scopes are good with which guns; who can find a rail or forend for my Enfield project, or a front sight for my huskavarna 8mm, that’s exactly what we need. For now, it’s still the fishing store for me.

    • Zack mars

      Glocks, and other polymer guns, sell.

      Stocking things that very few people want is a great way to have a falied business.

      We had a good number of store that had nothing but hunting rifles, fancy wood stocks, etc.

      Once stores came around carrying things like AR’s and glocks, he fudd stores died off quick

      • Ace of Lances

        Aye, you’re right of course; just sucks, like the author I think is saying, to bad there can’t be a happy medium. Goes for everything these days though, don’t it! Cheers bro.

  • lucusloc

    We are lucky enough to have a local Cabela’s, but the only thing I can reliably get there is ammo. Looking for stuff ranging from rails to mag pouches is hit or miss, and even if I find something I like at the store, chances are that it will not be there the next time I want a addition/replacement. The have a lot of stuff, but it is either all low end crap, or the most generic bits possible. Want something specific (even if not a specific brand)? Good luck. Despite having 10 ore more isles devoted to firearms it is highly doubtful they will have what you need. Top rail for a Mossburg? Generic single stack mag pouch for a short mag? Quarter inch rail riser? Nope, nope and nope. You are far better off to plan ahead and order it online. Heading to the local shop is just setting yourself up for disappointment.

    What do I want to see in a store? A row of rail adapters/accessories, with risers and extenders in all common sizes. Mag pouches that fit every common mag, from short singles to long doubles. Scope rings for every size. Common parts for every major brand. All kinds of accessories, from VFGs and AFGs to lights and lasers. A few different kinds of BUIS, folding, canted etc. Basically take the variety we find in the ammo, scope and gun sections and extend that variety to all the other gun related areas.

    Too much to ask for? Apparently so. . .

  • Kivaari

    That is why it pays to have a Brownell’s catalog.

  • Kivaari

    There is a problem with wholesalers as well. Much of the specialty stuff is not stocked by general sporting goods wholesalers. Even some specialty places don’t have what we need.

  • hendrik kiliaan

    Excellent article, I could not agree more!
    Cabellas and Bass Pro are the Zellers store of outdoor products, cheap to mediocre. I spend most of my money on specialty gun shops here in Alberta, that sell better products, keep up their inventory and special order for me. P&D in Edmonton and Prophet River in Lloydminister. Cabellas in Canada must be their dumping ground for junk that does not sell in the USA. We do not get the better products here. Some Canadian Tire stores in Calgary in particular have outstanding gun departments, selling Blaser and other top products.

  • aka_mythos

    Firearms are a challenge to sell in a big box format store… Those stores rely on buying large enough volumes that they can get enough of a discount to sell at a lower price than their competition, however firearms are relatively low margin high priced items, where the volume the stores need to contract to buy to get a volume discount exceeds what most can reasonably sell. Take a Glock 19, a high volume firearm, dealer prices are about $440, MSRP is around $570. This is a 24% margin, where in the big box retail business 25% is what’s needed overall to break even and 35% is what’s recommended to cover the eventuality of rising costs. So a big box retailer needs the volume discount just to stay in business. Smaller stores have less overhead and can more easily let a gun sell for less than that 25% margin.

  • Tom Tweney

    Have we forgotten that our current Government is making it impossible for businesses to grow, or even stay in business, with energy prices out of control, particularly in Ontario, crazy regulations, which put a strain on profits and now CARBON TAX the business and job killer. Get rid of the Liberal Reign of Terror and business will prosper.

    • Hardwood83

      I feel for you man…..but I’m not sure how large of a Canadian Audience you’re actually reaching here.

      Might be more bang for your buck to rant somewhere more Canuck oriented, eh?

  • CJS3

    I think you went to a big box store looking to fail. BBStores don’t carry obscure parts. They have parts to support what they sell. If they don’t sell 34mm scopes then they aren’t going to have 34mm rings. If you didn’t know that walking in, then you’re not paying attention. Gander Mountain crashed and burned because they were poorly run and were too well known to fail. At least in their minds. Reloading equipment? Yeah, in a cabinet in back. Used firearms? Yeah, right over there at list + 10%. Hunting and camping equipment? You bet, twice as much as you can buy it across the street. I bought clothes there as gifts because they had Gander Mountain written on them. I would never buy anything there regularly. Gander Mountain knew all of this. Bass Pro Shop knows all of this. Cabellas knows ALL of this. Still they are all on the verge of going under. They know, just like you should have known that big box stores don’t carry obscure parts. You still went in looking.

    • camosoul

      Your point fails when one looks at cheap-o TulAmmo 9mm. They want almost 300% more for it than Wal Mart does. The problem is not merely “retail.” The problem is they’re doing it all wrong. Wal Mart doesn’t seem to have a problem… Same clueless employees. Same lack of selection.

  • J. Wade Harrell

    Gander Mountain and Bass Pro does carry some decent firearms but their selection leaves a lot to be desired and their prices are above retail whereas my locally owned gun stores sells guns at decent prices. The accessories are what the articles say but actual guns are priced out of the market.

  • BillyOblivion

    By the time they’ve achieved anywhere near market penetration on the $400 cooler they will have a newer model, or another company will come out with a “better” version.

    Same thing with the jeeps, except that there’s always a new generation of fanatical 20 year olds and men having a midlife crisis.

  • Gordon Couger

    The big box sporting goods stores are almost always priced too high for the service they provide. They don’t pay well enough to keep a knowable sporting goods sales/buyer person in the store but rely on what they get sent with a computer doing the restocking. It is too much cheaper to buy on line most of the time.

    Someone that knows what their doing soon gets a job where their paid for it and allowed to trade guns and have their opinion count on stocking and reorders.

    Market forces don’t seem to hurt places like Dong’s good dealers in Tulsa and a number gun stores in OKC that have knowledgeable people and provide s none what Andy Anderson ways on California Street or Mashburn Arms Company when I was kid in the 50’s. Everything new sold for close to MSRP then and $50 bucks for a Remington 870 was a lot of money. But the knowledge that came with the sale was a great deal more than you get to day.

  • True story I just went into my local Greenville, SC Cabelas to ask if they had a open top or Richards-Mason style conversion in .45. Actual helpful guy at gun counter tells me they not only don’t carry them but that I was not the first guy who came in looking for one. He tells me that corporate buys in bulk based on what marketing thinks will be a big seller. They had a run on black powder revolvers a few seasons before so now they have a bunch in the back that they have no room in the counters for. Long story short after a nice conversation with a fellow six gun fan I leave empty handed

    Meanwhile I can go to any one of a hundred small stores or pawn shops in my area and they’ll just run to the computer and order me one if I want. The big boxes make so much of their money on the “outfitting” and fitness products they just don’t care about shooters. My local Academy sports is the same way.

  • Ski

    Cheap crap sells. Walmart didn’t become a retail juggernaut by selling upper tier products. The problem with stores like Cabelas is that the cheap crap is still expensive because they think it’s the 1980s and that their name still means something. It doesn’t help that most salespeople behind the gun counters know slightly more about guns than editors at the New York Times.

  • George Griffin

    I just did an experiment, it took me 48 seconds to search 34mm scope…, by this time Amazon had shown me over 100 different scope rings many of which could be delivered tomorrow at no extra cost, ranged in price from 34.95 to well over 200 dollars this is why big box stores fail.

  • Scott

    You completely Lost me in the INTRO about customers not shopping there because of selection rather than price. Academy doesn’t seem to have the same problems and if any of the big chains has better prices than all of the others Academy is probably It. That being said I can’t stand Academy because most of their gun counter people all talk like the Poloticians from California most are as educated about guns and ammo as Feinstein is. Point Blank Gander is going out of business because they sell Guns over retail and try to sell Police trade in used guns at new prices and everything else is just as overpriced. In an economy where the government wants do do no more than take 20 to 25 percent of your hard earned income to give to someone that is to lazy to get a job. You sir missed the point if people can not get a better deal on something or it is even $5 dollars cheaper down the street at wal mart (Ammo) or online for way cheaper and a lot of the times free shipping why amwadte time or money at Gander or Cabellas? Also they all vary the same overpriced junk and barely ever have a middle to higher end stock in less they go from a $200 mossberg and the next closest comparison is a 2200 Binelli you might be a little off in what you have in stock.

  • Veteran for Trump

    I buy from Walmart or Academy. Their prices are the lowest. I recently bought a Savage 64F from Academy for $198, the local Walmart did not have it in stock at $188. Sales person at Academy said they would price match, but Walmart does not list gun prices on the website, so no way to verify the lower price.
    I bought my Savage Axis 308 Win at Walmart for $286, $300 at Academy.
    Not a big difference.

  • disqus_VNhNhKJeMH

    Gander Mtn preyed on customers and employees, charging beyond reasonable prices to neophyte customers, and paying less than reasonable wages to employees who were happy to turn their hobby into a job and actually had some knowledge in the field. A friend of a friend was going to be doing ATV repair when our local gander opened. He was hired on, but never told what his pay was. First day he got there he asked, and it was about a buck an hour over minimum, which is obviously not appropriate for the level of skill needed to perform the job, he walked away.

    Half a decade ago Gander actually had some decent prices from time to time, but since the panic of 13 their prices have never come back down. They still want 50c a round for bulk pack 556 when everyone online is selling for 30c or less. They want more for a POS cop turn in glock with dead night sights than I can buy a brand new one online for. They want 50-100% over going price for reloading components and equipment. We had a field and stream open a couple years ago about a mile from GM, their prices blow GM out of the water (although walmart usually beats F&S on ammo prices pretty easily). GM made ZERO attempt to be price competitive even in the local market, their SALE prices would still be quite a bit higher than F&S or Walmarts everyday price. Even with GMs going out of business “discounts”, their prices are still too high.

    Funny, true, and believable story. Over the past few years I’ve looked up prices on about a dozen new guns. Gander was consistently ALWAYS the highest price. One shotgun I looked at, cheapest price was $900, Gander was $1300. And management at GM has the balls to cry that they don’t make that much markup on new guns…

    As was said before, the only thing keeping a lot of gun shops alive is the need to have a FFL involved for the transfer. If Amazon could do guns, there would be some INSANE deals to be had. That’s why it pays to find a friendly local FFL dealer and give him 20 or 30 bucks to go the transfer.

    I’ll miss GM for the showrooming aspect and that’s about it, THANK GOD we won’t have to deal with the constant harassment to get a GM credit card or buy a useless pro-plan. I’ve bought quite a few used guns in the past 6 months and the prices have ranged from great to reasonable, I’m hoping now that GM isn’t a player in buying used guns in town more will trickle over to F&S to be sold at a more logical price.

    Funny story two. My buddy and have probably spent close to 10K on used guns @ GM b/w the two of us in the past 5 or 6 years. One of the employees told him one day, “we hate you guys”. Buddy asked why, was told because we never buy any ammo, accessories, or pro-plans like other customers do when we buy guns. And thus the mentality, you hate people that the store has made 4 or 5 grand PROFIT off of because they won’t buy your useless overpriced garbage. Personally I fully believe they’d be happier selling a 10/22, blister pack scope, a brick of 22s, and a gun case and making 75 or 100 bucks than they would selling a used shotgun for $2k and making a grand on it.

  • GarandThumb

    I think many of the big box stores are stuck in the past. They’re “target” audience is the hunter, not realizing the growth in target shooters. Who is going to shoot through more bullets? The local bass pro has nothing in 6.5mm. Yea, I order most of my stuff online but occasionally it would be nice to pick up a box locally. Their bullet selection is mostly SSTs, Interlocks, Ballistic tips, Accubonds, GameKings. Where are the SMKs, TMKs, ELD-Ms, RDFs, Custom Comps, etc, etc?

    As for knowledgeable clerks, one sales guy walks up to ask if I needed anything, I mentioned the lack of 6.5 mm bullets and he goes on about the virtues of the .308…

    • Hardwood83

      Seems like you answered you own question…..time to get a .308!

  • Ching Willy Hung

    I could not agree more.
    Even at Cabelas, the Magul line of product is very limited.
    Gunsmithing tools, like punches, roll pins are non-existent.
    How about firing pins? or Common spare.. non what-so-ever.

  • idahoguy101

    How old is the staff at Gander Mountain if they’re Vietnam veterans?! Pushing seventy…. you want to stick with that?

  • Tom

    The answer is that most of the big box stores, Cabelas, Gander, Bass Pro, Scheels etc. don’t care one bit about gun/ammo sales, the markup is tiny even though the items are expensive. What they make their $ in is clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. where the markups are 10x what guns/ammo is. They only have those big gun/ammo sections because it brings customers into the store where either they or their family buy higher profit items.

  • Andy Richardson

    Gander Mountain had ridiculously high prices on firearms. Only uninformed people would buy at those prices. Online places like Bud’s Gun Shop and Kentucky Gun Co. have prices way better beating gander mountain by more then $100 most times and that includes shipping and paying the transfer fee at your ffl.

  • SPQR9

    That’s hilarious

  • Tox

    Better employees cost more, which is anathema to the big box stores.

  • John

    The last time I went to Cabela’s I wanted a Pietta 1851 they had on sale for $200. The clerk looked at the shelf where it should be and said “Sorry we’re out”. After staring at the shelf for a few minutes I saw the one I wanted on the next shelf down. I said “You have one right there”, his response was “Oh yeah, you want it?”
    After angrily taking the box, I asked for someone who knew black powder, they said “Tony’s our black powder expert”. Tony didn’t know what powder went with the pistol or what primer caps it should use. Some “expert”.
    These guys deserve to be sold.

    • John

      It’s not that they don’t know their job….it’s that they don’t get paid enough to give a damn about their job.

      Welcome to the new world.

  • Scott P

    Patrick, We have worked together before, and you know I have a good knowledge on this subject from both the buyers and sellers perspective. Today, most buyers looking for “gun parts”, specialty or not, are driven by the price. With how fast and cheap shipping seems to be getting, most don’t seem to be bothered having to wait a day or two for the parts, so they buy online. The rest of the buyers, or the buyers with an urgent need, generally end up at a specialty shop like the local gun shops. The gun shops are the ones that have the expertise, and hire people because of their knowledge. The big box stores sell millions of items, and each of the employees have an equal knowledge of all those items. Which is usually very little. The biggest challenge is that many specialty items are too expensive to continually keep in stock for local gun shop, and the need for those items doesn’t come around often enough to justify the overhead. Online retailers for the most part, do not have near the overhead a local shop has. In fact, more and more are having the items dropped shipped, and the retailer makes a buck as the middleman. This is the exact reason many specialty shops today are closing their doors. The buyers that recognize this, and respect their local experts, are the ones that keep the few local shops alive. To that, I say Thank you! If I recall correctly, this is the reason you and I met, but you already knew that.

  • Paralus

    Big Box indeed, except there isn’t much for inventory. What you see on the shelves is what there is. With Just In Time logistics, it doesn’t pay to stock too much especially if it is doesn’t sell often.

    That is just a fact of today’s retail experience. Want something exotic? Order it online.

  • Publius

    I worked at Gander for about six months until I couldn’t take the willfully ignorant customers any longer. (“Oh, I don’t need to know how to take it apart.”) If Gander is any indication, the problem is a supply chain that pushes products indiscriminately to all stores rather than allowing store management to order what their customers actually want. It’s a lot like the Soviet era supply chain.

  • Rukus_Ruzirack

    You can say that these stores should stock XYZ item and hire qualified sales people but they’re not going to. Online distribution is too cheap and you try surviving on minimum wage. Sure the guys at the firearms counter might be paid a little better but selling warranties is what pads their check not knowing everything about every little thing.

  • camosoul

    I have thus far been unable to give any of my money to Gander Mountain, Bass Pro, or Academy. Much like the newest iPhone; it’s for people with more money than sense. Usually not their own money…

  • Ernul

    An inventory of slowly moving products that don’t sell by year’s end are TAXED, year after year. So why keep shelves full of parts for firearms when they will only be there next year and taxed again. Basic business 101.

  • James Kelly

    The discussion here is about firearms, but it is true of any decent quality product. Staying in business means carrying the lowest price item, as that is what sells. Quality is nice but low price SELLS. This is true in any field, consumer or industrial.
    On-line I buy more and more of anything – small tools, office supplies, certainly books (yeah, my interests are specialized here). Got a wool coat on-line, only way I could get one Made-in-USA.
    Salespeople not knowledgeable? Go to Home Depot and ask the nice lady at checkout where to go for a tape measure or yardstick. Really, that’s the way it is in Rochester Hills, Michigan.
    I am a 76-year old man, pleased to be Caucasian, politically somewhere to the right of Andrew Jackson. Have noticed that in my white town some of the white, male, Home D. clerks often know nothing & are not at all bothered by this. Moved from a area with significant black population, where the African clerks knew exactly where everything was. Different subject, I guess.

  • JanitorWillie

    All things being equal, online retailers offer things brick & mortar retailers cant…like free shipping. Or no sales tax. Brick and mortar stores have rent, property taxes, electric bills and insurance bills. That overhead is reflected in higher prices. I try to patronize my ‘neighborhood’ shop…if they don’t have what I want they will order it. Going online plays into the antigun bunch because if all the gun shops close, mail order and FFL regulation can choke off the gun trade eventually. Support your local gunshop.

  • Hervoyel

    It’s not just on selection but on price as well. You can’t tell me that a store like Gander Mountain has to charge those insane prices for their merchandise. I’ve been into a couple of their locations since they started their big closeouts and if they come down another 15% they will start to get in the neighborhood of other retailers in my area on gun prices. Very few people will pay that kind of mark up just to support a local store. Right down the road Academy undercuts their prices with relative ease. Add to that what you you said about the selection issues and it’s game over for these guys.

  • Guido FL

    Big Box stores are on the skids for the same reason as shopping malls are, the internet ! Not to mention uninformed staff, poor selection, and high prices.

  • The Deplorable Hobbit

    I am left handed and left eye dominant. Although I go to big boxes, Sportsman’s Warehouse being the newest in my area I rarely buy much. Ironically at one point a nearby Gander Mountain had a pretty impressive set of left handed rifles, but gradually eliminated most.

    In the last fifteen years or so I have tended to buy ambidextrous guns or those that don’t matter, notably an ambidextrous 1911 10mm, a Keltec RDB, and a nice used High Standard Victor, from local dealers with real gun shops. I occasionally find something specialized and left handed on Gunbroker, although I once found a left handed used, but really nice BSA Martini at a local pawn shop. Since the great ammo shortage abated my ammunition generally comes from big boxes like Walmart and Dick’s except for 10mm that my local dealer now has for about the same price as 45 ACP. Walmart is the goto place with Dick’s occasionally having a good sale.

    Beyond that I find it far more productive to buy rings, slings, red dots, scopes, magazines, and (left handed) holsters on ebay, Amazon, and Gunbroker.

  • Accurate Okie

    My friend and I were discussing this same thing the other day, specifically about rings. We live in the ATL area and there is not one store we could find that had any decent rings or mounts in 34mm. most of the places sold scope in that size but you could not get anything to mount the scope to the rifle.

    I think that most people will spend a little bit more money on something that really is better than the basic items on the shelf but only if they can buy at the same time.

  • Brent Akin

    If I spend more money than minimum, it’s for customer service and knowledge of the product. IE: I’ll go to a local gun shop.
    If I go to a big box store, it’s for one of two reasons: I want it cheap, or I want it now. I’ll pay some extra for “NOW”, but not a ton.

  • Lee

    Wanna compete with the internet, got to have the internets selection and prices… Thing is, its possible… As a big box retailer you have that “walmart” name your price cut a check now power…

    Gander Mountain went out of business in my area solely because of their prices. There is literally an academy across the street with the same exact stuff for considerably cheaper all day every day. Even when Gander had sales, you could still get the stuff cheaper at Academy. Academy’s parking lot is full most of the day every day, like walmart… Ganders is vacant, even now during their “close out almost down to msrp sale”…

    Ganders business model was based on their credit card, not their store front. Thats where they failed. Here get our credit card and you can buy this overpriced gun now, get a discount, and not worry about payments, blah blah blah….

    Keep things simple and up front… working folks like simple, clean, easy, affordable, and available… Stray from that, and you go under…

  • CA

    “I get it though, the general gun buying public doesn’t care to spend a bit more on specialized parts, nice scopes and rings”

    That’s bullsh_t! Chinese-made crap sells for the same price as if it were made in the USA. (Rifle bench-rests for example, and also clothing) These stores have NO REASON not to sell good quality US-made items that would probably FLY off the shelves, yet why don’t they?. I would bet my money that these should-be-American stores like Cabela’s and Sheels are compromised. By who? It’s a big topic, but my conspiracy theory is that the progressive leftists infiltrate American names and brands only to sell them out or have them go out of buisiness to destroy Americana.

    “Boycott Kellogg’s! Boycott Hollywood!” Do you see what’s happening here?

  • NiteGoat

    I purchase 99.999999999% of my parts online, range ammo at WAL*FARTS when they have any, and HD/SD ammo online. Every LGS or sporting goods store jacks the prices of their ammo so high, that it’s laughable. Every so often, my local Dick’s will have a good deal on .223/5.56 range ammo (think American Eagle M193/Remington Bucket O’223).

    I refuse to be price-gouged.

  • James Smith

    Before we go too far, just how much of Gander or Cabela’s sales came from firearms?

  • mark klosky

    I sometimes go to the big box stores looking for particular
    items, but more often than not am unable to find even an acceptable version of what I need. Instead there are row after row of the same yet inferior junk that someone must be buying, I have to assume. But products for the educated and opinionated consumer? Generally not.

    $400 Yeti coolers and cheaply made clothing but very little outside of that, and gun related merch is more of an afterthought tucked into a back corner.

  • Gary

    I find that more advanced shooters have to go to the web for their needs…A few well stocked shops here and there but not everywhere…

  • Willy

    I use to buy from Gander, even bought a few guns, but then something changed about six years ago, customer service, or should I say no customer service. I got sick and tired of waiting a minimum of 20 minuets and as long as 45 to get someone to come to the counter. After a half dozen times I realized the young people they had working there just didn’t care and they often had little to no knowledge about the stuff in their depts. I complained a couple times to the “manager on duty” and it didn’t change. I won’t step foot in another one even during this liquidation sale, now I’m ignoring them. Good riddance Gander, not surprised to see you fail.

  • BeenThereDoneThat

    Inventory cost!!! Ever hear of it? For every one customer that wants a 34mm ring set, there are THOUSANDS of customers that DON’T assuming they knew such an item existed!!! If one did a poll of what size rings a customer wanted for their scope, #1 answer will be 1″, #2 answer will be 30mm. If you only got fed on the number of sales of 34mm related rings & scopes, you die of hunger! Anyone who has or wants that class of optic gear sure as hell ain’t going to the big box store for it! In the 30 years I worked in a family gunshop and range, we NEVER got a request for ANY 34mm ANYTHING! And if had, we could pickup the phone an order it from one of our providers! We had tip off scope mounts for a Win 94 and an assorment of other items, but NOT ONCE did we get a request for 34mm rings or scope! And that Win 94 mount was left over from when THEY WERE POPULAR!!! Wouldn’t waste the money to keep one in stock today. Now, if there was a suddden surge in demand for those, we would invest.

  • BeenThereDoneThat

    Real life event. I worked at a LGS for almost 30 years. Then a few years back, the internet came along. Didn’t initially affect us since there are some RULES about selling guns over the internet! We stocked several MSRs (Modern Sporting Rifle) and accesories. We didn’t normally do “transfers” except for a couple of our regular customers who would ask us first.

    We knew when things changed. Customer comes in, checks the price on one MSR and announces that “I can buy that of the internet $20 (any amount) dollars cheaper”. “Ok” we say. Couple of days go by, then he shows up wanting us to do the transfer. “Sure, OK”!!! That will be $40 dollars please!” Our “normal” transfer fee was $30, but since he had been an ass and not checked with us first, we added an “asshole surcharge!”. He ranted and raved that we were taking advantage of him. Since he had already told the other dealer our name and address and was hooked when the other dealer requested a signed copy of our FFL! We are NOT under ANY obligation to do transfers for ANYONE. The ONLY money we make on internet deals is whatever we charge for the transfer! And WE are assuming all the risks and keeping that damn paperwork!

    Well, he learned his lesson and started appreciating the role that a LGS plays in the system! Remember, no LGS, no internet sales!!! And, there usually are NOT enough transfers a day to keep a LGS in business! And, a REALLY IMPORTANT “AND”, we are there AFTER the sale for support!

  • RPK

    Like many of the big box stores, the buyer’s do not have a clue what the consumer wants. The employee knows what their customers purchase however, they are not included in the process. Executives like to use terms like “employee empowerment”. They just do not execute the actual use of the term in a practical sense. It is even worse when the folks at a HQ’s change the planogram all the damn time just to justify their position. It confuses the consumer and does not tend to make easier for the employees either. There are tags at times on the shelf for items that have never been present and when you ask, no one seems to know if it ever will arrive.

  • Thinker398

    Gander is gone. The local store was stocked very well – if you were a fashion plate looking for 5.11 clothes.
    ?I was happy when the came and I’m sorry to see them go but they were very very very badly focused. Kinda like Dicks.

  • billdeserthills

    I only go to the big box gun stores when I need to meet up with a private seller & even then I only visit their parking lot, as I never enter the stores.

    Thing is I can buy whatever I want on the internet and pay less–Not only that, but I will also save almost 10% by not paying sales tax

  • Good story. The Big Boxes only carry products that have the right “velocity”, you know, it sells pretty fast. They just chase the fastest buck until they go out of business. I would never buy a firearm from Outdoor World, for example, because when I need additional parts for it, Outdoor World will not have anything I want. I give my business, all of it, to sellers who stock after-market components, even 34mm rings. Support your local small-shop gun dealers. Keep them in the chips. Those are the guys who will stay open late for you, fabricate a part for you and give you a heads up on a slick trade-in deal. Let the big retailers fail. They are not part of your community anyway.

  • richard kluesek

    Not only the big box stores but also the distributors, manufacturers, sales representation organizations all have human resources departments staffed by the usual cadre of psychologists and bean counters who make the hiring decisions. Such folks favor hiring a 30 something person with an MA in business administration. Not ‘gun guys’ as we understand them. Some of these people may even possess guns themselves or have access to guns as family members of dedicated owners but as a group have not lived the life style, likely have no law enforcement prior experience, little military background if any and if so in administrative serve support rather than combat arms, and as private citizens probably dont personally carry a gun regularly even if licensed (because that does not fit into corporate style or frequenting gun free zones). Just sayin’ not judging as favorable or not, simply the way it is. If ya dont like it create your own company and reorder the recruiting procedures to take on veterans and ex lawmen and civilian experts.

  • Patrick ONeil

    I haven’t entered a box store/sporting goods store for any gun related purchases for years. I learned long ago it was a waste of time. I just go online because I KNOW I’ll find what I need there. If I’m interested in a physical gun, I go to a gun shop, not box store. The gun shop caters only to firearms, the box store covers the barest gun basics on the side.

  • Rogertc1

    Budsguns or Grab a Gun same thing is hitting Walmart. Us as people want low assed prices.

  • Matt

    My local family owned gun shop closed recently probably due to gander and field and stream both coming to town. So now I’m paying higher prices and am limited to what they have in stock. And I’m not supporting a local business. I really liked being personally recognized and talked to in the family owned shop and I could find or order anything I needed.
    So although I have bought guns from both GM and F&S I buy more online where the prices are much better. Also the best employees at those store’s gun counters are the ones who are retired and want to be there because they like gun culture and outdoors products, not because it’s a retail job. They are usually the most knowledgeable when it comes to guns too.

  • borg

    I know of someone that bought a used Ruger LCR from Gander Mountain for $299. It looked indistinguishable from the new ones.