We’ve all seen the photos of packed gun stores and empty shelves around the country as Americans prepare themselves for a national emergency. Grocery stores, restaurants, coffee shops and pharmacies are changing the way the do business and interact with the public given the need for social distancing and minimizing crowds of people congregating together.
Gun stores are no different and they’re adapting to the new reality.
TTAG’s talked to a number of firearms retailers that have weathered the weekend gun rush and they’ve told us how they’re changing their business practices to adapt.
First, many stores are lining up customers outside. No one is let into the store until there’s an employee available at the counter to help them. That’s intended to keep large crowds from packing the stores where social distancing is impossible.
We’ve talked to a number of stores that are shortening their hours, too. Employees are frazzled, having worked 12 to 15-hour days over the last week with little to no time for restocking, let alone ensuring that all of the required paperwork that’s necessary with each gun sale is complete, accurate and filed away according to each retailer’s particular requirements.
Most gun sellers we talked to are shaving an hour or two off of their business days, opening later and closing earlier.
To help employees help the most customers while they’re open, two retailers told us they’re not answering their phones right now. They told us they haven’t stopped ringing since Thursday.
“Are you open today?”
“What are your hours?”
“When will you have more AR-15’s?”
“Is it really busy there?”
“Do you have any GLOCK 19’s in stock?”
“When do you think my background check will be complete?”
Dealing with the constant call volume was taking at least one full-timer off the sales floor who could be helping customers in the store.
Finally, we asked them how the distributors are doing getting them new product. Most said they have a lot of guns and gear inbound, but many of the larger distributors — the RSR’s Lipsey’s, Sports South, to name a few — have been nearly cleaned out. There’s more on the way, but in the mean time, they’re getting inventory from smaller distributors the stores haven’t done business with before.
But they are being resupplied.
In short, gun retailers are working night and day to meet the unprecedented demand for firearms, ammunition and more. So the next time you head to your local gun store or big box retailer, be prepared for some changes. At least until the surge subsides and, we all hope, the viral threat diminishes.