How One Gun Retailer Has Dealt With COVID19 and the Gun Buying Surge

Maxon Shooter's Supply empty shelf

Courtesy Maxon Shooter’s Supply

By Peter B. Mathiesen

We talked to Dan Eldridge, the owner of Maxon Shooter’s Supply and Indoor Range last week. The intent is to show how firearm industry companies are responding during this crisis and demonstrating best industry practices to protect their staff and customers while still offering services when appropriate and allowed by law.

The Escalation

For this facility, Friday the 13, 2020, was the day everything changed due to COVID-19. Within hours, traffic nearly tripled as Maxon saw lines forming at counters—and demand for range time became nonexistent. People chose to stockpile ammunition rather than shooting it.

Empty Range

Courtesy Maxon Shooter’s Supply

“We went from significant traffic on the range to almost zero in one business day. At the counter, there was high demand for ball ammo, and pistols were selling exceptionally fast,” said Eldridge.

Unlike most other states, Illinois is dependent on the State Police to process NICS checks. The process takes significantly longer than a federal NICS, with FFLs using standing kiosks to complete the processes.

“The background check on a good day takes 15 minutes per customer,” explained Eldridge. “As expected, the process slowed dramatically that Friday.

This created longer lines and a buildup of customers. It quickly became apparent for the safety of our employees and customers that we had to move customers outside of the front door and remind everyone to stay six feet apart. To add even more stress to the situation, it was raining.”

Shortly, Maxon staff stopped answering the phone, referring all customers to the website to make an appointment.

“We hated closing the phone lines down, but it was the only way we could effectively schedule people and start controlling the flow of customers in a safe manner. In Illinois, you are required to have a state FOID (Firearm Owner Identification Card) card, and if the customer didn’t have one, there was not much point in meeting with them—we can’t even sell them ammo without it,” he said.

The Website

One of the first changes this range made was to start making daily updates to its website.

“People have a question, they go right to or our website. It became clear that information like changing hours, ammunition availability, event and class cancellations and other timely data helps relieve frustration and provides a calming tone. Another key has been listing the store’s complete inventory on the site. This allows the customers to know what’s available and what can be purchased without relative delay,” he said.

Staying Open

While the state of Illinois has some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the country, Democratic Governor Pritzker designated gun and ammunition suppliers as “essential” in his shelter-in-place order announced on March 20, 2020, as the state took additional steps to control the spread of COVID-19. Eldridge said there were many calls to government agencies in support of this.

“This was a perfect example of the importance of having open lines of communication with our state representatives, the state police and the governor’s office. It was a relief to have them make a decision to keep the firearms retailers open. It became clear that staying open was the safest way to keep firearms secure with the procedures the State of Illinois had legislated,” he said.

Protecting the Staff

It’s a different day when a retailer finds lines at their counters and the government has mandated “social distancing.” The onslaught of customers completely reset procedures for customers in Maxon’s store.

Maxon Shooter's Supply COVID19

Courtesy Maxon Shooter’s Supply

“The first thing we realized was that, to keep our employees safe, we had to move the lines outside the store. For us, that wasn’t just an issue of social distancing. We are mandated by law to maintain complete control of our inventory and our safety. The store is now completely sanitized twice a day,” he said.

What’s Next

While the crystal ball may be cloudy, Eldridge feels that firearms will remain available at his range, though with slightly less selection. He sees ball ammo as being where the real challenge lies. He also said that his store had not raised prices, but if that happens, it will be a reflection of changes with distributors.

“We will not gouge our customers. In fact, in the recent week, there hasn’t even been time to change prices. However, ball ammo will be the toilet paper of the firearm retailer’s world. It moves slowly through the transportation system and will most likely be in short supply, with rising prices.

When the range business starts to normalize, I think customers will be shooting more expensive ammunition until the supply returns. Other challenges will be firearm safes, though they still are shipping, and then there are some firearm manufactures that have been temporarily shuttered,” he said.

Where this range owner felt the reset button will be the most significant could be with members of the public who, for the first time, don’t feel protected by the system. “The entire Chicago area is watching law enforcement choosing who and what circumstances are within their purview. People are frightened when they see toll booth running [cars passing through without paying] and excessive speeding unenforced. Jails are letting inmates out and many basic civil laws are also going unenforced. Much of the public feels vulnerable right now.

“We are committed to training and embracing new shooters and will do so as soon as the legal system allows,” Eldridge added, referring to the many people wanting to do business with his store and range as first-time gun owners. “We’ve had to cancel several spring and summer NSSF +ONESM promotions, but we’ll get them moving again as soon as possible. Those programs will be more important than ever as we bring these new customers into our sport.”

The New Normal

Moving into the last week of March, visiting Maxon’s is allowed by appointment only made on the company’s website. The range itself is closed until further notice. Eldridge said that they needed this approach to lower the stress on employees and work to create a calming sense of control in the store.

On average, it’s taking a couple of days to complete background checks. “We have also stopped accepting any new purchase transfers, and we don’t see that changing for a significant amount of time,” he commented.

Maxon Supply

Courtesy Maxon Shooter’s Supply

Customers with appointments have it politely explained that the store can offer them 15 minutes of counter time and that the on-hand inventory is their primary focus; for the moment, Maxon’s has suspended special orders, along with transfers.

As the coronavirus situation moves forward, Eldridge said that they are learning and adapting daily to the changing social climate, and while he would have never wished these circumstances on his family, employees or his fellow Illinois residents, he feels proud of his staff’s commitment to serve their community.

About Maxon Shooter’s Supply and Indoor Range

This range and retailer is 10 minutes from O’Hare Airport, just off of Interstate 90 in the northwest suburbs, only three miles from the Chicago City limits. Opened in 1955 as a small retail store, today the facility encompasses more than 16,000 square feet.

The 4,000-square-foot retail store carries an inventory seasonally fluctuating from 900 to 2,000 firearms and a revolving stock of approximately 90 rentals. There are 20 75-foot lanes divided into two 10-lane bays. Maxon employs a staff of 28 full- and part-time employees and operates seven days a week most of the year.

It is one of only six FFL retailers within the Chicago metropolitan area of more than nine million residents.

 

This article originally appeared at nssf.org and is reprinted here with permission. 

comments

  1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    There’s certainly an overshadowing sense of foreboding on all fronts: The early release of certain convicted criminals, the shifting priorities of LE, the run on food, the Fed Reserve’s wildly irresponsible QEinfinity, the Fed Gov’s $2.2T gamble, plus the proposed additional $2.0T package for infrastructure, the wildly irresponsible effect it will all have to devalue our currency even further in the near future, etc.

    Went on another morning jog/run today, as has been my daily routine lately. I park at the grocery store, buy a couple of bags of (non-perishable) groceries, then lock up the car and start the run to get my exercise. As of today, nearly everyone is now geared up with masks, gloves, long sleeves, hoodies, even eye shields. Just to buy some groceries. The fear is palpable. The store finally received a delivery of TP for the first time in over three weeks, and the price was literally doubled(!) over what it was before the recent panic. And it was selling out.

    I have a strange feeling that this change in zeitgeist is going to persist, and ammo will be difficult to find for a long time, just like TP. For all of us who stocked up on both over the past few years, imagine 100 times that many people (Fudds and newbie POTG) now realizing they should have done the same, and taking advantage of opportunities every time they see ammo on the shelf from now on. For all the times we joke about “you can never have enough ammo”, everyone else will be taking it seriously and shelf-clearing for perhaps years to come. Remember…it only took the potential fear of gun control when Obama was re-elected in 2012 to start a three-year drought of some popular calibers. This may be much worse.

    1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

      Got a tip a few days ago on some 9mm ball. I looked, took a chance and ordered a half case just for some replacement range ammo.

      By the tracking number, it should be here Monday. My UPS guy is starting to mumble along with the dirty looks. At least this package is smaller and lighter than some…

      1. avatar John in OR says:

        Tell your UPS guy to man up. LOL Mine is a petite female and she never complains even when I get a case of .45 delivered. She’s always pleasant and usually stops to chat for a few minutes too.

        1. avatar adolf hitler says:

          tell her to suck your weenie

      2. avatar Porridgeweasel says:

        Just got a load of .45 colt and .357 hard cast in from Brazos Precision on Wednesday. I always go out and meet the mail carrier because my packages are HEAVY and it’s usually an older lady that does the mail delivery in my neck of the woods. She knows to knock on the door if I don’t come out right away.

        I don’t need anything in the way of ammo now. Nothing….(Mr. Smithers evil laugh and hand wringing)

      3. avatar Victim of ups says:

        I ordered some 10 mm, 45 acp , and 9 mm from nosler. Unfortunately they ship ups, the package made it to my home town according to ups tracking then it disappeared. After filling complaints with ups and contacting nosler two weeks later nosler shipped my order a second time. A week later (now 3 weeks late for original delivery date) my original order was delivered box open missing all the 9 mm and 100 rounds of 45 acp. I contacted ups and nosler to let them know I will not do business with anyone who ships ups. I am a loyal fed-ex customer now. This was not the first time I had problems with ups, but it was the last.

  2. avatar Ironhead says:

    Absolutely love this store. And it’s only a half mile from my house.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Maxon is in DesPlaines isn’t it Ironhead? Did they get flooded the other year? Used to go to Pace Auction years ago. And stayed with a gal in DesPlaines before that…heard good thing’s about them! From what I hear about a bunch of other states ILL isn’t that bad-YET!

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        ten miles west of me. all the guys i knew that worked there quit when the current broad started running things. their gunsmith told me he couldn’t fit a slightly larger safety on an older piece i have because it would deem him a ~manufacturer~. whatevs.
        nice facility- clean and well ventilated. the old place was kind of a dump.

        1. avatar Ironhead says:

          That’s odd. I actually found her quite pleasant to deal with. They have a new gunsmith now, very nice guy, and just did some work for me that was top notch.

      2. avatar Ironhead says:

        Yes it is. That part of desplaines doesnt usually flood though. It more the north side of town.

  3. avatar Dude says:

    Less income plus higher prices equals hard times ahead. Hopefully we can get solid data and treatments for this virus ASAP. Everyone needs to get back to work. Even if you’re sitting on a mountain of ammo and tp, something this far reaching has a way of affecting everyone.

    1. avatar SuspiciousFisherman says:

      The problem is too many people are doing nothing differently because they have to work to pay bills, or worse, because they are just fucking stupid and selfish. I took a 2 week paid vacation and that’s a luxury that most people don’t have. That said, even after 2 weeks I don’t feel like it’s enough and I’m about to use every last bit of savings for 30 more days of unpaid vacation. The way this is spreading in America is a result of our stubbornness. At least the CDC finally acknowledges what other countries have been doing for years now with masks. Still, people just refuse to distance themselves and stay the fuck home. I read a story about a bus driver complaining about people coughing on his bus and sure enough, he died. I see it at work all the time… people coughing in their hand, or just open air because they think it’s a light smokers cough… It’s selfish and the entire reason why our nation will be the worst and hardest to deal with on the virus. It’s just sad that people will need something like martial law to avoid getting others sick. That’s what drives people like me to extremes, wearing a fucken gas mask and carrying a flame thrower to Costco. Stubborn and stupid people. Without a life, you cannot have a livelihood. So stay the fuck home.

      1. avatar Dude says:

        “stay the F home”

        You must not have read what I said: “Hopefully we can get solid data and treatments for this virus ASAP.”

        Once we know more about this virus and have proven treatments, it becomes a managed risk. Then everyone can get back to work. Everyone can’t stay home until there are no new cases. That is unsustainable.

  4. avatar JUST THE FACTS! says:

    illegal NICS ck never took over 3secs @ my dealer but, im not in commie land……

  5. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

    “In Illinois, you are required to have a state FOID (Firearm Owner Identification Card) card … we can’t even sell them ammo without it”

    JFC… at least this reminds me that even on the left coast we still have a lot of ground to defend.

  6. avatar Slapshot says:

    Wow only 6 retail gun shops in a metro area of 9 million people!!! I live in a metro area of 100k In the Rockies and we have over a dozen gun shops from mom& pops to local regional chains and a over priced Cabella’s. The average new glock here is $100 less than a CA approved one in San Diego and that’s NOT including tax, registration & background check DROS fees. I love free America. I would Never Again live in CA WA CO IL NY MD NJ MA RI CT or DC or anywhere that unconstitutional laws infringe on my rights.

    1. avatar Binder says:

      Take a look at GAT. Then tell me how “restricted” the Chicago area is.

      Illinois is no Arizona, but it is no California either. I’m now in NC and honestly is more of a PITA with pistol permits and county level CCPs than Illinois.

      1. avatar Northeast Escapee says:

        Nothing is perfect, but I do not mind NC’s methods. Got a CCW as soon as I could when I moved here and it’s great. Buy as many guns as I want to with NO background check, just fill out the 4473. The NC CCW is good in 39 states and Puerto Rico. NC honors all other 49 states and PR. Buying a gun here with your CCW is only limited by how quickly you fill out the 4473. Also your County Sheriff can issue a Pistol Purchase Permit to someone 18-20 years old that legally allows them to purchase a handgun from a private individual, but not a firearm dealer. (Federal Law) Open carry with no permit legal, even in your vehicle. In my County there is a sign at each door into the Library stating that “Concealed Carry is Welcomed”! I like it here.

      2. avatar anonymous4goodreason says:

        OMG, so now we’re arguing over which level of infringement is more acceptable as if that’s the way to go? Disgusting!

        1. avatar UpInArms says:

          ” arguing over which level of infringement is more acceptable ”

          Nobody is arguing over what is acceptable. The argument (more accurately a discussion) is about the relative intolerability of an unacceptable circumstance.

        2. avatar anonymous4goodreason says:

          UpInArms
          “the relative intolerability of an unacceptable circumstance.”

          Talk about a mouthful of nothing, you must be a politician or you forgot the /sarc.

          Seriously, any comparison of infringements to paint one commie state in a better light than another is sickening to me. Whether during discussion or argument (a coherent series of reasons, statements, or facts intended to support or establish a point of view) such comparisons are useless. We need to fight the all. Just sayin’

    2. avatar former water walker says:

      Well I live in Cook County,ILL…plenty of NW IN gunshops sell me ammo with NO ID😏

      1. avatar Art out West says:

        God bless Indiana. It is one of the few Midwestern states I would consider living in. Chicaganois nope.

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        indiana wanted an id for the credit card. when they saw illinois they then needed my foid for the .22 ammo. not sure if it’s actual policy.

        1. avatar former water walker says:

          CASH jr. Cash.

        2. avatar jean says:

          Check the ATF regs – neighboring states to Illinois are required to follow Illinois ownership laws, so if you are in Wisconsin, Indiana, etc, they are required to see your FOID, even for an ammo purchase.

        3. avatar Specialist38 says:

          Jean…..how are they supposed to know your IL?

          Do people from IL look that different? Smell different?

          No ID needed in FL to buy ammo. They dont care where your from.

          IL is a hole because of Chiacgo.

    3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      @Slapshot,

      Glock Gen 4s and 5s were never approved for the “Safe Gun Roster”, and the Gen 3s will expire as well as of Dec 31, 2020. So as of 2021, no new Glocks of any kind will be allowed for sale in the Golden State, because reasons.

      Of course, that’s for the unwashed masses. As is the case with nearly every gun law in CA, LEOs are exempt and may buy any Glock they wish. A LEO may then later sell/transfer the “used” gun to a private non-sworn individual, though there have been multiple cases of LEOs being convicted for gun trafficking and ending up behind bars for abusing this loophole and selling too many for the CADOJ’s liking.

      1. avatar Dude says:

        Corruption always follows strict regulations.

    4. avatar Kevin Johnson says:

      There’s more than 6 gun stores out here. There’s one near me in Lombard: North American Firearms. https://www.northamericanfirearms.net The short drive is nice because the 72 hour waiting period makes two trips mandatory. Buying from GAT requires 80 miles of driving for 2 round trips.

      1. avatar Someone says:

        I bought a pistol from them couple of weeks before they opened their Lombard store, when they were just a kitchen table FFL dealer.

    5. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Sydney has a population about a third of that and at least 8 gun shops I know of. And this is in “gun free” Australia.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        What can you buy in OZ now? Just revolver and manual rifles.?

    6. avatar Someone says:

      There is more gun shops in the area, but still none in the City as far as I know. Not one shooting range either.

  7. avatar possum says:

    C19 China’s punishment for Trump’s tariffs and America’s economy getting stronger. If any living American left buys anything made in China after this they are fools. Please read Gary Allen’s book None Dare Call It Conspiracy. I’m poor, I will do without before I buy anything Made in China again, the rest of this countries patriots should do the same. ..

    1. avatar UpInArms says:

      ” If any living American left buys anything made in China after this they are fools ”

      Good if you can find a way to do it, but 20 years of globalist dreaming has made it impossible to find some (many) items that are not of Chinese origins. I always have to shake my head at stickers on packages that say “Made in America… with global parts.” Like that’s supposed to make me feel better? You’d pretty much have to be a hermit to be able to live without buying stuff made in China. Until American manufacturing gets back on it’s feet, anyway.

  8. avatar Uncle Neck Beard says:

    I want to leave IL because of the high taxes. The recession / depression that is going to result from the KungFlu is going to wipe out the government pension funds in IL. In many cases they were already only 30-40% funded under rules that allow them to count on investment returns that are twice what the private sector can use.

    Aside from the FOID card, the gun laws in IL are actually pretty good. The big problem with the FOID from a buyers standpoint is it can take many weeks to get one initially. With everything shut down now if you didn’t already have a FOID card, you can’t buy or even borrow a gun.

    The IL State Association (which does a great job) and others are trying to get the FOID act ruled unconstitutional. Hopefully they will succeed.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      isra. you left out rifle.
      great org. but i’m amazed that they raffle off rra stuff after the lobbying mess.

      1. avatar Southern Cross says:

        They definitely couldn’t call it the Illinois Rifle Association.

  9. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    I wish I were a stocking dealer in a place like California right about now, just so I could tell certain segments of the population that their 15 day waiting period is there because they voted for it.

    “You wanted gun control. Well, this is gun control. You wanted it, you got it.”

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      And the Karens will demand to speak to the manager.

  10. avatar gibnark says:

    Thanks for this article. Dan is a great guy fighting the good fight for us in Illinois. His staff have all been real friendly and helpful every time I’ve stopped in.

    It’s a shame this all happened when it did since I was planning some range time there to test out a few revolvers to help me decide on my next purchase. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with waiting a bit longer to keep us all safe.

  11. avatar Hannibal says:

    Appointment only seems like a very appropriate way to deal with social distancing while still being able to maintain sales. Ideally someone walks in the door with a pretty good idea of what they want based on what is in-stock (a list online, photos, whatever) and can decide based on feel between a couple different options. And I’m guessing most people don’t want to window shop right now.

  12. avatar Courthe says:

    Appointment only seems like a very appropriate way to deal with social distancing while still being able to maintain sales. Ideally someone walks in the door with a pretty good idea of what they want based on what is in-stock (a list online, photos, whatever) and can decide based on feel between a couple different options. And I’m guessing most people don’t want to window shop right now.www.self21.com

  13. avatar Johnson says:

    I’ve never been to Maxon’s, but I have a lot of friends at my club that buy from them. I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about their entire operation.

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