In this Make Ready Armz guide we will outline how to open a gun store in several key steps, so you can start your own firearms ecommerce business.
- Get To Know The Industry
- Understanding Applicable Laws
- Establish A Business Plan
- Prepare A Business Presence
- Establish Credit Processing
- Marketing / SEO
1. Get To Know The Firearms Industry
While it is true that the firearms industry is constantly a hot topic of debate. Firearms ownership has seen record highs each month in 2020. This influx of firearms and accessory purchases have come from many first time gun buyers. Some of whom will likely purchase aftermarket accessories, more ammunition, training, custom work, and often a second, or third firearm. This increase of firearms and related accessory purchases adds to the potential for a retail business that buys, sells and trades in firearms and accessories to be profitable. As well as dealing in firearms, it is often profitable to sell corresponding products such as a holster, optics, ammunition, targets, etc (called cross sales). Many companies also offer services such as training, cerakote, and gunsmithing. Lastly, get to know the climate for firearms in your area to understand if it is worth it to go through these steps for you.
2. Understanding Applicable State/Federal Firearms Laws
As a gun store owner you are required to adhere to many regulations at your state and federal levels. These regulations will govern the kinds of products you’re able to sell to your customers. They will even govern who you’re able to sell a firearm to and what type of records you will need to maintain in order to keep your license.
Other items they will require of you.
- The federal government (ATF) requires that you keep detailed and accurate records of each of your gun purchases and also sales.
- With the sale of each firearm you’re required to conduct a background check on the customer purchasing the firearm. The background checking process differs depending on your state.
- You will also have to acquire business permits, depending on the state. These documents might include zoning compliance permits. Additional important records you will need include tax compliance and insurance documents.
You will need to apply for and receive your Federal Firearms License also known as an FFL before ever selling a firearm. You can do this by submitting your application to the ATF and paying their applicable fees, which they will charge you between $20 and $200 for, then they will run a very thorough background check on you and your business. They will investigate for a varied amount of time through many variables to be certain that you can be trusted with the responsibility of buying and selling firearms.
The following are the different types of FFLs
- Type 01 FFL – Dealer in Firearms / Gunsmithing (firearms repair)
- Type 02 FFL – Pawnbroker
- Type 03 FFL – Collector of Curios and Relics
- Type 06 FFL – Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms
- Type 07 FFL – Manufacturer of Firearms & Ammunition
- Type 08 FFL – Importer of Firearms/Ammunition
Be aware that the firearms industry legal space often changes as firearms legislation is passed, forcing the changing of the landscape, so you will need to stay on top of each change that applies to you.
3. Establish A Business Plan
Establishing your business plan should be a detailed strategic well thought out plan of action that will set you apart from the rest of the competitors.
Some helpful items to identify
- Customer demographic
- Your particular sales niche (what makes you unique)
- Identify sales channels
- Operational costs vs predicted income
- Any hurdles you need to account for (zoning issues, etc)
- Competitors in your area
- Your marketing strategy
Check your local laws about advertising firearms or related material
4. Prepare A Business Presence
In 2020 there are many different avenues that can be utilized as a platform for your business to succeed. From various social media providers, brokerage sites (such as gunbroker.com) to a number of website services (such as makereadyarmz.com), there are many avenues to use as sales channels. I will list a few below that are beneficial to utilize.
- Make Ready Armz
One key avenue you will want to establish is your firearms friendly eCommerce webstore. Using Make Ready Armz as your website provider, we give you the tools required to get your firearms friendly website up and running. We manage the hosting, tech support, provide professional templates, an hour of free design time, connection to distributors inventory (depending on plan) and much more. We give you full control using a drag and drop designer so your site can meet your company’s unique brand and custom needs. For more information on Make Ready Armz please visit our website. www.makereadyarmz.com
Choosing a distributor for personal or dropship inventory
Major firearm suppliers in the US are as follows:
- Sports South
- RSR Group
- Davidsons Supply
- Bill Hicks
- Hicks Inc
5. Establish Credit Processing for Gun Shops
Many banking establishments and merchant services companies shy away from firearms related businesses for several reasons. The couple providers that do allow firearms businesses to use their services do by labeling them as “high-risk” to give them a reason to set you at a higher rate than what your typical merchant would be. Other credit card processors that claim to be “firearm friendly” simply aren’t and they still process these firearms merchants at much higher than standard rates. This is why we partnered with bluedog who is an industry leader in firearms friendly credit processing. They do not label you as high risk and start with rates much lower than anti firearms companies like paypal, square and more.
6. Marketing / SEO for Gun Shops
Once you have established your business and brand presence it is now time to advertise and promote your new firearms business. One of the most beneficial ways to go about this is by establishing relationships with like minded business entities such as gun clubs, shooting ranges and firearm instructors. This will get you in contact with gun owners who are in the space and often give advice to potential customers. This will hopefully lead to referrals and marketing opportunities.
Another great avenue to explore is search engine optimization. Due to most advertising platforms banning the sale of firearms, investing in ranking your products at the top of Google is one of the best ways to grow outside of just your local area. SEO involves in depth keyword research, building links offsite, and optimizing the content and how it’s formatted to best be digested and ranked by Google.
In closing, beginning a new venture as a firearms business owner in 2020 has the potential to be profitable, but it does come with strict rules, regulations, oversight, as well as an ever changing political atmosfear. You are being trusted with a very large responsibility so do not take this venture on half heartedly. These are important tools and need to be handled properly.