Last weekend there was a gun show in my area, so I grabbed a
few of the safe queens I was no longer planning to keep and decided to head on
down to trade/sell my wares as well as look for some items I needed. As I got
to talking with folks there, and dickering (yes, it’s a word), with the patrons
there, I realized I didn’t approach this very well at all, and I feel a lot of
people are not prepared for that situation so I figured I would give some tips
If selling, know what you want:
I went in with two higher-end guns, both in pretty good
condition, with the intent to sell them as I no longer use them. I made it five
steps in when someone noticed the blue box and asked, “What you got there,” and
after explaining, he followed up with “How much.” I told him, and he smiled and
said he would have to pass. This conversation happened before I met a chattier
vendor and asked, “What’s the deal? Am I too high?” If I was making a private
party sale, he said, according to the online auctions, the Blue Book of Gun
Values, I was right where I needed to be. The problem is that many gun show
vendors were looking to make a profit, which I understand, but they were
looking for desperation to sell and re-sale that day or shortly. He also
explained that within the last 12 months, many vendors simply ran out of
inventory, so they bought a lot at higher prices to sell at even higher prices
and were sitting on a lot of money and inventory. Bringing in a higher-end
pistol or rifle meant more money sitting waiting for that buyer, so bringing in
cheaper models they could flip that day was more beneficial.
Get only what you need:
As stated above, they
are in the business to make a profit, which means selling to you whatever they
can get you to buy. Most of these vendors mark up to cover the cost of the
table, gas, hotel, or other expenses compared to an online retailer, which is
less of an issue but knows what they are going for on the market. I saw AR-15
Magazines going for 20-50% higher, a used Ruger 57 pistol being sold for more
than a new one two tables down, and ammunition at nearly 100% markup (but they had
Don’t be afraid to dicker:
Negotiations are the name of the game there, and while you
might not get a lot off a new firearm, many of the used items can be
substantially cheaper if you show the cash in hand.
Come with cash:
Cash is king, with most venues charging 3% for Credit card
transactions. The event center I was in had ATMs available but charged $4 per
transaction with a $200 limit.
Have thick skin:
I love the negotiations, but I know they are
trying to get a good deal…for them. Unlike a car dealer, pawnshop, or elsewhere
that might care about your reviews, these vendors tend not to care. Most are
amiable enough, and some are downright nice, especially if they want something.
One of the nicest gents there really wanted my pistol and buttered me up
something fierce, then offered about $1000 less than the value of the gun.
Refer to numbers one and two; know what you want and only take what you need.
Also be sure to check out JM4 Tactical for your holster needs!
Author: Ian Bolser