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Thread: Independent Selling at a Gun Show vs. Commercial/Retailers

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Independent Selling at a Gun Show vs. Commercial/Retailers

    Threads here about "Selling it all", "When is a good time to pare down?", "No one to whom to leave my arsenal - now what?", or titles of like import, have me getting real interested in SELLING stuff at a gun show (and there are some in Melbourne, FL from time to time). I have never researched how to approach what appears to me to be the monumental effort and logistics of hauling stuff - a lot of stuff maybe - into (and hopefully not out of) a show.

    How do you effect SECURITY of your own stuff (in the parking lot, at your assigned set up, going to the bathroom, etc.), if you are an independent seller?

    Do you bring your own tables or do they provide?

    How do you find out about selling at a show?

    Are there any "right" or "wrong" ways of doing business there? The intent here is how things are displayed, available to touch, avoiding Goobers with no intent to buy, etc....

    How does the little guy "stand out" and set himself apart (in a good way) from commercial/retail sellers when the independent is just starting out?

    Since it is suspected that nearly ALL independent sales are cash transactions, how do you effect security in transporting "a wad" of cash?

    I suspect there are "rules" that must be followed at the Show, set up by the Organizers, fees to be paid (profit dissipation), and a host of related carp, but can you go there carrying (provided you have a CCW permit)?
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

    Winger Ed.'s Avatar
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    Out here, the sponsor of the show will organize everything at the venue, and give you a paper of their rules.

    You rent one or more tables for whatever amount. That's all you pay them.

    The day before the show is when everybody sets up and you can take your turn at the freight dock to unload.

    They have armed security guards 24 hrs.
    At night the vendors will normally run a cable through all their firearms and lock them all together.
    After a certain time at night, nobody but the guards are allowed on the floor inside the building.
    It wasn't playing the blame game, finding fault, and complaining about every little thing that made America great.
    It was God, guns, and guts.


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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Same here. I usually buddy up on a table or 3. Having a gun friend their is nice so you can take a break or whatever you want to do while they tend the tables.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Some states require you to collect sales tax. Make sure you keep accurate records of what you sell so you can pay your10-12 dollars in sales take you owe at the end of the show.

    If you trade something there is no sales tax.
    " If you cant do it with a 308 , you dont need to do it!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    I wonder if when you have to collect sales tax, since tax has already been paid on the item, can you file for a sales tax rebate from the state for tax you already paid.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I think that sales tax is collected because you are selling at a trade show. I really don't know the organizers could have been scamming us and pocketing the money. I know that by my records I didn't owe much in sales tax.....
    " If you cant do it with a 308 , you dont need to do it!

  7. #7
    Boolit Buddy
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    In Louisiana at the end of the show, you're required to total your sales and pay local tax at the venue. Paperwork is provided to send the states share in by mail.
    Usually there's someone at the next table that will watch yours for a break and you'll do the same for them.
    "EXPERT= Ex is a has been, spurt is a drip under pressure" Unknown

  8. #8
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Boy that's a lot of questions...most about security.
    I can't speak for Melbourne, FL...But the shows I've worked, there is no worry about security.

    I've suggest you give a call to a promoter of a upcoming show and tell him to give you the low-down.
    Then sign up for one table and give it a test run, and try it for a weekend...I always bring my own two wheel cart, to haul your stuff into the showroom. Most places provide a few carts for vendors, but if there are 50 vendors, you may have to wait your turn to use a cart.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ďIf someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.Ē
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Right after I retired I cleaned out my drawers, closets and loading room and a buddy and I went in together on a table at a local show. Knives, belt buckles, excess brass, unused reloading equipment, ect.

    Having a friend along will answer most of your questions about the required work and security. Work as a team.

    A 2 wheel dolly worked well for us. We boxed up most of our stuff in boxes that rode well on the dolly. We could haul several cased long guns on the dolly by securing them with a tie down strap or a tarp strap.

    We started by covering the table with a blanket and kept another blanket to cover our goods with at night.

    We didn't do anything extra to draw attention to ourselves except to try to arrange things to be seen and make the price tags visible. You could make a frame out of PVC pipe to hang a sign or banner on but we didn't. Some guys have a sexy spouse, sister or daughter sit there showing off some skin, but neither one of us qualified! Half way through the last day I had a fire sale.

    Do your homework on the value of your stuff. You're not going to sell very much used stuff by asking retail prices for it. I priced my stuff to sell.

    I made it a point to speak to anyone that walked by and looked or slowed down. Not a hard sell, just a good morning or good afternoon. If they stopped to look I tried to be friendly and helpful without being pushy. My buddy priced his stuff to high and instead of speaking to people sat there and played on his phone. At the end of the day I sold more stuff than he did! I sold more of his stuff than he did when he was away from the table!

    I thought that is was a fun weekend. You will meet all kinds of people. Many of them were fun and enjoyable to visit with. Then you are going to have the others. Mr know it all who knows more about your stuff than you do. Just smile and nod your head a lot. Mr low ball who is going to offer you a lot less than your asking price. Just say no thanks and smile. The poor guy thats strapped for money that you feel sorry for. Do what you think is right.

    I had a young couple walk by our table and the girl looked at one of my belt buckles. I was asking something like $5 for most of them. She ask if I would take less for it. Something like $2 or $3 and I politely declined. Probably should have accepted the offer but....... Anyway, they came back a couple more times and she looked at it again, without saying anything. About the 4th time by she ask me if I would take less for it. I just picked it up and put it in her hand and said "you will look good wearing this, why don't you just take it". The smile said it all.

    Edited to add; Take a comfortable chair. And stop by the bank and get a few hundred dollars worth of small bills. I carried mine in a roll in my shirt pocket, like the old timers did. Shoplifting is a problem at some shows so pay attention. Personal security should not be a problem. Just pay attention.
    Last edited by lightman; 02-15-2020 at 03:58 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I appreciate ALL of the advice and directed information. The local Gun Show Promoter requires $80 for a single table. So, I have to figure out what I want to "give away" in order to recoup the initial cost. I could go to the $25 per table local flea market every Wednesday, but I know those lookers are in the bargain basement game and MUCH lower target price (so a lot of No thank you's), plus I would have to be selective in what I offer as they don't allow guns. Hmmmmmm, maybe I could show pictures and generate interest to be concluded off of their grounds in a storage locker perhaps (which I already have). Thinking now...….
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master

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    If you are even remotely interested in your security, generating interest for firearms at a flea market with sales to be completed at a storage locker is a BAD plan.
    My Straight Shooters thread:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...raight-shooter

    The Pewter Pictures and Hallmarks thread:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...-and-hallmarks

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I think you would do well to follow the suggestions of Lightman. I have never had a table at a gun show, but have sure spent a lot of time wandering the aisles and visiting with vendors. A vendor with too many tables is not going to watch his stuff or the customers. No price tags tend to encourage me to just walk on by. OK, I am picky about that, if the price is not stated, maybe the vendor has no real idea of the value. A simple greeting does show interest and means the vendor is not locked into his phone or tablet.

    On the other hand, I try to not stop and BS with a buddy blocking others from goods on a table. It can get crowded so I try to avoid bumping into folks. Persons with mobility issues, kiddie strollers, and wheel chairs get clearance. I could be in a chair by the next show so give others room while they enjoy looking.

    To me, I go to the gun show but not looking for any specific item, but may have a list to refer to in my pocket. But it is more social than commercial. If as a vendor you are not comfortable with a crowd, and willing to greet those passing by, or get bored easily and tend to play on the cell phone, you will have a miserable time and may not "pay the rent".

    I would be careful with off site sales to a stranger. Especially at a storage locker which is unattended for the most part, and with video surveillance at best. Have a good show.

  13. #13
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    Since Lightman gave you a bunch of helpful hints. I will offer one, and it's an unusual one.

    Put out one item on the edge of the table as a "Gotcha item".

    If you are alone at the show, be sure to get the person at the next table in on the gag, you'll likely make a new friend, a new friend who will likely keep an eye out on your table while you visit the restroom or get something to eat, or just go walking around to shop other tables.

    OK, examples of a Gotcha Item, are a Replica handgun that looks real and also priced too good to be true, or a empty box from something that would be highly sought after. The first time I did this, I used a empty modern smokeless powder can that looked new and is priced too good to be true, it was amazing how many people would pick it up and give it a jiggle, then to find out it was empty, they'd have a disappointed look on their face, My friend at the next table and I would break out in laughter.

    The theory:
    I have found that most people at Gun shows, like to pick up and touch things, especially if you are a private seller with a table full of random sporting items...They don't do it to the gun dealer that have 50 handguns all stringed together, I suppose they give them common courtesy??? but us small private sellers don't get that. So I put out a Gotcha item, for them to pick, so they don't just reach for that nice S&W revolver I have on the table. I don't mind if a serious buyer handles a nice gun, but I don't want 50 lookie-lou's handling that gun. I swear these people will only grab one item, so if I provide a eye catching item, they leave the expensive stuff alone...they just need to feel one item...and when they grab that Gotcha Item, it ends that need, and provides a laugh to us behind the table. My friend who has had the next table to me for many years, at a local annual gunshow, make a game out of it and keep count at how many people pick up the Gotcha item.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    ďIf someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.Ē
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Some of the bigger vendors here have a cable set up they run thru the trigger guards and only remove to allow handing. it has a joint every 18" or so. Keeps things secured but again every showing requires removal. Most shows have guards at the doors and checking in so its already not to bad.
    Having a friend to trade off with for breaks and snack meal runs is a plus and the company isnt bad either. If your having a good day selling and large amount of cash. You might call someone trusted to come in 2-4 hours before close to take cash out at an unsuspected time. Use an old trimmer or equipment box and It wont be noticed. And you wont be leaving with a big pocket full of cash LOL

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    I canít help you with the selling part, but Iíll tell you what I look for as a buyer.

    1. I skip all commercial sellers and look at their stuff at the end of the show. Most of what they have is plain vanilla and can be found anywhere, and usually cheaper.

    2. Clean the guns!! I offer less for a dirty gun. Why is twofold. First is I think a dirty gun may not be a well maintained gun. Second is mental. A clean specimen is always more appealing to me.

    3. Have prices and have them clearly marked on the item. I normally donít waste my time at a table with unmarked items, or I lowball.

    4. Be friendly to all. Iíve passed on buys before because the owner couldnít be bothered to answer questions, or didnít respond to a friendly greeting, etc. Also donít stereotype. The man dressed like a bum or a hippy might have a pocket full of cash.

    5. Price well. Collector items are worth collected prices. Run of the mill fair is not worth as much as a new retail gun of the same or similar model. Donít give it away, but realistic pricing is nice.

    6. Be willing to negotiate. Just offering $5 off can make some people jump off the ledge to buy, lol.

    7. If you have the factory box and papers...BRING THEM WITH THE GUN!!

    8. Have a nice, organized table. Makes your stuff easier to see.

    Thatís all I have from my end.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have been helping my Father and selling on my own at Gun shows for 46 years.

    A few things I can offer that may help.

    Sales tax, each state is differrent, the show manager will know, here in Washington, I can do two shows a year as a hobby and not worry about sales tax.

    Several nice blankets, one to cover the table before you put things down and another to cover the table up for the night.

    Doing it by yourself is hard, you have to rely on a neighboring table holder to cover you while you take a break.
    So if you have a friend it helps, My son is currently 16 and learning to drive, so he has been helping me set up the table the evening before.
    Then Dad and I cover the show for Sat, and Sun.

    With my back condition now, I can not sit for long in a folding chair so have been taking my own higher stool with a back to it.

    Price each item clearly.

    We are required to disable the firearms with plastic ties, so no one can load and discharge the weapon, plan on taking a pair of snips, and extra ties so if some one wants to really look at the weapon they can, and then it has to be tied up again.

    Paperwork, again that varies from state to state, the show manager will know and many times sets up a FFL transfer spot.
    Here in Washington all firearms are required to have the Federal paperwork, and background check, unless the buyer is a FFL holder.

    Be aware of the shoppers, we have been very lucky over the years, but things have simply walked off from time to time.
    Last month Dad had a AK magazine that disappeared, I know he had 3 lookers at it Sat, but by the start of Sun it was gone.

    Thankfully, I have been on my Father the past few years, and he has cleaned out a lot of his stuff.
    At least that is less I will have to deal with when he is gone.
    The Christmas week of 2013 I spent a week in the hospital, that will change your thoughts about many things.
    Then I spent quite a while that summer and fall, simply selling off old projects I knew I would never get to.
    Selling those items was a relief to my mind, and now I can concentrate on other things.

    Make up a plan that works for you, and good luck.

    J Wisner

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy nelsonted1's Avatar
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    I was at a gun show in the early 90s when an mp5 walked.away. Right off a table. The p.a. system quickly lit up with an announcement the gun was gone and for everyone to look around. Was never found. The odds are very slim with eyes roving everywhere that things can be snatched up but put a little thought into it.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy nelsonted1's Avatar
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    Here is a question for the ages: what possesses people to put things out for sale without pricing them? The thought that has rolled through my head is are there different prices for different prospective buyers? Talk about a downer image!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master

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    When I see tables without prices, I usually just walk right on by.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Jedman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatelk View Post
    When I see tables without prices, I usually just walk right on by.
    I do the same !

    Jedman

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