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Chapter 3 – Getting Your DBA/ABN
To do business in my state, you’re required to register a DBA (Doing Business As) or ABN (Assumed Business Name) through the office of the Secretary of State. The fastest way to locate the website is to search for it on a major search engine, using the phrase “secretary of state + [your state]”.
Once you find the website, I was able to locate the necessary forms under the “Business Entities” section of the left-hand menu. There should be a link titled “Assumed Business Names,” “Doing Business As” or something similar to the two, where you can view and print off the necessary application forms.
This section should also list the fees involved for filing, which will need to be paid by a check enclosed with your application.
My state has no issue with multiple ABNs with the same names, but your state’s policy may differ. If it does differ, there should be a notice provided on the page. If there isn’t, call and verify before mailing your application.
Lastly, I highly recommend acquiring a PO Box through the post office, or something similar through a UPS or FedEx location. Your business’s address will be public record, so I opted for an additional layer of privacy.
Some states will also require there be a public announcement published in the local newspaper, which will list your personal and business name. If they do not offer such a service, you should be able to request an ad by contacting your local newspaper. If instructions on the agency’s website are vague, do not hesitate to call them and ask for clarification.
When the announcement appears in the paper, I recommend making a copy of it and retaining it as proof. It’s always better to have more paperwork than less.
I received my official certificate in the mail after approximately two weeks.
While it shouldn’t take longer, do not be surprised if it does. You can always call and verify your application was received, and ask for the status of the application.
Once your certificate arrives, keep it in a safe place. You will need this document as proof for later in this process. Lastly, be aware of any renewal requirements for your DBA/ABN. While my state does not require a renewal, and simply lets it continue into perpetuity until I cancel it, not all state agencies will handle it in this same manner.
Chapter 4 – Sales and Use Permits
Once you have your DBA/ABN certificate in hand, you are ready to apply for a sales and/or use permit. This should be conducted through your state’s tax commission.
As mentioned earlier, it’s easiest to search for their website on a major search engine, using the search phrase “state tax commission + [your state].” For me, the link to apply for permits was all located under the “Online Services” link. If your state’s tax commission has no such category, look for a “Business” section.
My state gives the option of filing electronically or via mail, so I chose to submit my application online. The application starts out asking about your type of business, its purpose, and which permits you are seeking.
Make sure you check the “Use” box, and also check the “Sales” box if you plan to sell.
If pursuing this as a business, you will want to provide a Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number). If you are only doing this for personal use, provide your personal SSN. You will then provide your ABN and list the date of incorporation as the day your ABN was approved.
The remaining boxes are self-explanatory — until you come to the section asking about the “primary nature of business”.
Honesty is always the best course of action, so under “Primary Business Function” I put “Other Direct Selling Establishments,” since I would be purchasing from wholesalers exclusively.
Under “Primary Business Function Description” I put “The business is to purchase ammunition at wholesale cost for personal use and retail sales.”
After listing the names of all owners, their SSN and related information, they’ll have you proceed through additional questions that relate to employees, wages, unemployment taxes, etc. If you’re pursuing this for personal use only, this section is fairly quick to fill out.
Once you’re done with this, sign and date the application and submit it. I was approved and received my permit in about two weeks.
Depending on the state, a Sales Permit can be a separate license you must apply for, or can be combined into a Sales AND Use Permit. For example, while I checked off both the “Use” and “Sales” boxes on the application, my state only issues a Sales Permit and expects me to make the necessary use tax payments in addition to any sales tax.
This is the part I’m sure you’ve been waiting for this whole time. Now it’s time to start signing up for wholesale dealer accounts with various companies.
The easiest way to find these companies is to do a simple search for them. If you’re not having any luck there, don’t be afraid to visit various firearms message boards and search through their posts. The collective knowledge on some of these message boards is extremely impressive.
If you don’t plan on applying for an FFL to sell guns, you’ll want to avoid the wholesalers who only sell to those with an FFL.
While I disagree with their decision to do so, I can assure you they will not budge from it. You’ll be happy to know that there are still a number of wholesalers who don’t have that requirement, so not all is lost. If you do have an FFL or are planning to get one, this will be covered in detail in the following chapter.
When you find some wholesalers that interest you, look for a link that says “Become A Dealer”, or something along those lines.
If you come across a company’s website and it doesn’t have a link referencing becoming a dealer, don’t be afraid to call or email them to find out. They’ll have you fill out a form with all the information pertaining to your business, and will want you to upload a scanned copy of your DBA/ABN and Sales/Use Permit.
If they have a section asking what your plans are, be completely honest with them. Most companies don’t mind if you’re mainly buying for yourself, friends, and only occasionally (or never) selling to others. Remember, they make a profit even if you don’t turn around and resell it to someone else, so you’re not going to hurt their feelings one bit.
Once your account is approved, make sure you reset your password. Typically, it’s automatically generated, and not very easy to remember.
In the email you receive, check to see if you have been assigned a particular sales representative. While you’re more than welcome to call their customer service number, it’s much more beneficial to establish a relationship with your assigned sales representative.
Next, go through and update your contact information. Some wholesalers will require a sales representative contact you before finalizing any orders. Most don’t require this, but it’s still good to keep all of your information current.
Chapter 6 – Finding Good Wholesalers
Finding good wholesalers can take hours to research and find. The easiest method is finding firearms message boards and forums, and searching for information on wholesalers.
To help get you started, I’ve provided a list of known wholesalers. The list is broken down into wholesalers who primarily sell guns and require an FFL, and those who don’t require an FFL.
It should be noted that wholesalers marked with an * are ones I’ve used personally and recommend. Those without an * come recommended from others, and I recommend doing your own research to decide if they’re the right fit for you.
Lipsey’s – www.lipseys.com
Davidson’s – www.davidsonsinc.com
Zander’s Sporting Goods – www.gzanders.com
No FFL Required
MGE Wholesale – www.mgewholesale.com
Williams Shooters Supply – www.willshoot.com
Crow Shooting Supply* – www.crowshootingsupply.com
Chattanooga Shooting Supplies* – www.chattanoogashooting.com
RSR Group* – www.rsrgroup.com
While you can’t order firearms without an FFL, I have confirmed with both RSR and Chattanooga that this only applies to firearms with a serial number. Since the lower receiver of an AR15 is considered the actual firearm component, both wholesalers will ship any parts and complete uppers directly to you. While this does limit your options, it does give you some additional cost savings if you’ve ever wanted a different caliber, such as 300 Blackout or 458 SOCOM, in an AR platform.
The process of purchasing from a wholesaler varies.
When going through Chattanooga or RSR, the process is almost identical to online shopping, save for additional payment options and terms. While RSR purchases are completely automated, not all are.
Crow Shooting Supply and Chattanooga Shooting Supply require a salesperson to confirm the order with you before it is finalized, so expect a slight delay. Each wholesaler has its trade-offs, but is beneficial in its own way.
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