Idaho Dispatch reached out to local gun stores in Idaho to find out if the current state of the economy is impacting their businesses.
Please note that some gun stores may have a different experience than the ones Idaho Dispatch spoke with, but our goal was to get as broad of a view as possible of how the economy may be impacting gun stores in Idaho. According to WalletHub, Idaho is the state that is most dependent on the firearm industry.
Idaho Dispatch visited three local gun shops in the Idaho Falls area. Additionally, we called a gun store in Lewiston and Middleton to get their insight into how the economy is impacting their business or if it isn’t having any impact at all.
Our primary question was what impact the current state of the economy could be having on their sales, if any at all.
The first gun store Idaho Dispatch visited was Guns N Gear in Idaho Falls. We spoke with Richard Taylor, who responded to our primary question by saying,
We are coming into the usual slower months out of the year, so normally May through the end of July and August. Those are our slower months of the year. So I have noticed it slow down.Advertisement
Partly I think it slowed down because of the economy; gas prices…food prices. People don’t have as much discretionary income as they had once. So, definitely, I have noticed a slowdown, but sales are still pretty vigorous right now, especially with what’s going on currently in the news.
Paul Payne is the owner of Ross Coin and Gun in Idaho Falls. Payne responded to our first question by stating,
I believe it’s slowed things quite a bit. People have to budget whether their gonna do fuel or food, but we’ve seen it slow, definitely slow here in the last little while.Advertisement
This time of the year is generally slower. But, what’s the new normal or normal we really don’t know because the last few years have been such an upward trend, but it’s still better than a normal June.
Trevor Knudson is the marketing manager at The Gun Shop in Idaho Falls. Knudson told Idaho Dispatch regarding the current impact of the economy,
As of right now, this is the slower season of our business; in fact, most retail businesses, from my understanding.
That being said, we have seen fairly successful month-over-month growth from, let’s say, last year and then the year before. So, in comparing months to months, we have seen successful growth.
I would say that is a lot of us trying really hard to stay on top of things and really form our business to new business trends and different things like that that are going on, including high inflation.
That being said, we are seeing a lot of the products get to points where they are sitting on shelves more than we are used to. Ammunition is one that people look at and comes to mind a lot. Ammunition, where it was impossible to find, you couldn’t find it anywhere, is now on the shelves, and oftentimes at a price that a significant number of people are not purchasing as often, that’s for sure.
In a follow-up question to Knudson, Idaho Dispatch asked if the economy is part of the reason why the product is sitting on the shelf longer than usual. Knudson replied,
Absolutely. It would be impossible to say that it’s not, with the rise in material prices and everything like that. Our safes, we sell gun safes in here. Our safes have gotten to the point where we’re looking at new brands to see if we can figure out if there are other options that are good quality, that are made in the USA, and that we can sell for cheaper prices to our customers. Some of these material shortages are driving prices to points where we almost don’t feel comfortable selling them to our customers, not even just that our customers aren’t buying them.
Idaho Dispatch asked the same question regarding the impact of the economy on businesses to Mark, a manager with Lolo Sporting Goods in Lewiston.
Mark told Idaho Dispatch,
I’d say it’s been pretty decent. We sell a number of guns on Gun Broker; consignment guns. The consignment thing, I guess like everything in general, has slowed down a little bit but still fairly decent. It’s kept the store open. We’re just kind of plodding along. I don’t think inflation has really slowed any of our regular customers down. I mean, they know they have to put up with it. The hardest thing for them is not being able to get stuff.
Idaho Dispatch followed up with Mark by asking if shortages were a problem.
Mark told Idaho Dispatch that handguns were readily available, but rifles and revolvers are much more difficult to obtain. Mark explained that they are the “bottom end of the food chain” when it comes to getting inventory and that major box stores typically have an easier time getting items to stock before local stores do.
Finally, Idaho Dispatch spoke to Neil with Mid-Star Firearms, located between Star and Middleton. Neil expressed similar answers as other gun stores.
On the question of how the current economy is impacting their business, Neil told Idaho Dispatch,
Starting a year ago to now, the inflation in our industry is just insane; how much prices have just skyrocketed. I’ve canceled entire orders because they said that they were gonna raise the price 96%. That’s on the high end, obviously.
This year alone, 2022, we’ve seen the most price increases from January to now than we have before. Some ammo companies have already gotten three or four price increases. They pretty much just say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna increase it by this much. If you don’t accept our new terms, then we’re just gonna cancel all your orders.’ We are kind of just forced to deal with it.
Idaho Dispatch asked Neil if they had to raise prices due to their increased cost from the manufacturers and if that is slowing sales down. Neil responded by saying,
Yes and no. I would say yes because a lot of people will come in, look at the price of something, and go, ‘Oh, that was this price this many years ago.’ Then they just walk out of the store with nothing in their hands.
The ones who are understanding, who are like, ‘Yeah, I mean, everything’s going up. I still want this gun, ammo, or holster,’ they still buy it because they want it, but they’re not comparing prices to an unrealistic time, like three or four years ago.
Our total sales, for numbers, they’ve gone up, but at the same time, I don’t think we’re actually selling any more. If anything, it’s going to be a little less. Things are just that much more expensive than if you look strictly at the books; yes, we’re doing better. Realistically we’re not because we’re also paying a lot more for that product.
Another factor that most of the gun stores we talked to felt was impacting their businesses was the news cycle.
All of the gun stores Idaho Dispatch talked to felt that the current political climate is likely lessening the impact of inflation to a degree. Neil with Mid-Star Firearms said specifically,
There’s something bad on the news, and not 30 minutes later we’ll have someone run in the store and being like, ‘I need a gun.’
Neil went on to say that gun stores experienced a “Trump slump” when President Donald Trump was in office. On the other hand, Neil says that when threats are made to ban a specific item, sales increase on that item.
Another potential issue, according to several of the gun shops we talked with, is the manufacturing process. For example, while supplies of .223 and 9mm ammunition were hard to come by several years ago, some shops said they are experiencing an abundance of those items but not enough of other calibers.
Mark from Lolo Sporting Goods specifically said that it did not seem the manufacturers were in sync with what is going on with what gun owners need.
Overall, all five shops Idaho Dispatch spoke with indicated that the current state of the economy is hurting their businesses. However, some of the negative impacts of inflation are likely being curbed because of the current political climate.
Idaho Dispatch reached out to several other gun stores that did not wish to be interviewed for this article.
Let us know what you think of the article in the comments below!
Note: Idaho Dispatch Editor Greg Pruett also serves as the President of the non-profit group, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance.
Tags: Ammunition, Donald Trump, Economy, Firearms, Guns, Guns N Gear, Inflation, Joe Biden, Lolo Sporting Goods, Manufacturing, Mid-Star Firearms, Rifle, Ross Coin and Gun, Second Amendment, The Gun Shop