Gun Shows: Whew! ...Great for looking, but a bit Rackety
April 12, 2010
I don't know about the Gun Shows in your area, but around here, they're great for looking but not so much for buying.
I think there's a certain dynamic at play in Shows in general which applies to these as well. Correct me if I'm wrong.
At a Hobby Show you have a 100 dealers set up in an arena. Before the Show opens the dealers have a couple hours to do their own shopping. They know the market very well. But not every dealer knows every aspect of the market. So they scour and prowl each other booth's, finding the underpriced bargains which they snap up at an even-lower dealer-discount and bring to their own booth, clean up, and mark up.
Biz is a gamble. They might not mark up exactly to market price, but who knows. They price as they like and hope to turn it over. Street people know far less than any dealer. If they don't flip it right away, who cares: it's a hobby. I notice that most dealers are retirees. Pensioned? It's fun for them. They don't HAVE to move stuff. They like chatting with their pals.
In short, nothin's cheap at a Show, even though it's casual and amateurish and dealers work with micro-overhead and no follow-up obligation. Whew!
I noticed that new budget singleshot shotguns were priced the same as at Gander Mountain. Oh well! (New H&R Toppers run $150 at Shows, used for $120.)
If a casual local comes and tries to sell his stash of un-used family guns at a table, he might make a bundle of quick cash but also might feel a bit chagrined. Before the show opens the dealers swoop in and his table is cleaned out. "Hmmm, did I underprice?" he wonders. His fellow locals will never know.
Offhand, it seems like the only bargains are the odd birds that nobody is into at all. Like Euro-stuff. I notice that none of the dozen knife dealers stock any Scandi-type blades. So if a Scandi or Laguiole DOES show up you may well get it half-price. (Actually, I saw two at one dealer -- at basically new retail prices.) I bought a cheap Swiss ruck before, as nearly all the used luggage dealers strictly work with US-GI gear.
Still, a Show is a great eyeful. Like a museum. I always enjoy them.
But they're sure not like a garage/estate sale, second-hand store, pawn shop, or want-ads. I'm thinking that 10-20 years ago that's what they were like.