Gun Shops and Customer Service

I went gun-shopping this past week. It’s always a fun adventure.  I decided that my “armory” (liberal reporter term denoting a firearms collection greater than zero) was lacking in rimfire options – particularly .17 HMR. I had a great time at SHOT Range Day plinking steel with a rifle of this caliber and decided that I needed one of my own.

I did some reading online and “shopped” by looking at photos and prices and reading reviews. I even called around to local pawnshops hoping for an unexpected deal. But I eventually reached the point in my online shopping that I needed to actually handle the merchandise. 

I have a shortish wingspan and sometimes need a compact stock length, so I like to shoulder and handle what I’m interested in before buying. I also wanted to check comb height for scope use. I already have one gun that has a duct tape and pipe insulation solution for that and I was looking to avoid the need for another such home remedy.

So I puttered on over to a local gun shop to have an in-person look. This wasn’t “my” local gun shop, as that one had closed due to the owner moving out of state. I liked that one and they knew me. I spent a lot of money there. They knew that I was familiar with firearms, wasn’t an idiot, and they greeted me when I came in the door. Not so with this other local shop. 

At this other shop, I spent at least ten to fifteen minutes wandering around and looking in cases, with not a soul asking if they could help me. It wasn’t peak hours and and they weren’t busy. I thought about standing right in front of someone, clearing my throat loudly – so that they might be forced to acknowledge my presence – and demanding to know if they had any Ruger American Rimfire chambered in .17 HMR in stock. But I didn’t. I decided – screw them. I wasn’t going to beg them to let me give them my business. So I left.

Sheesh – I got better customer service over the phone from a pawnshop than I did in-person at that actual gun shop. That’s pretty sad.

I subsequently drove over to “large chain store”, where I spent approximately two minutes at the gun counter peering over at the rifles on the rack, while the staff guy served another customer. Two minutes. Not fifteen. Then he cheerily asked if he could help me. Why, yes you can!

Though they didn’t have the exact model I was interested in, they had similar models that the staff guy happily allowed me to handle – comparing the compact stock to the regular stock, comb height, weight, etc. He pointed out that if I wanted to order that model (heavy threaded barrel) online through the store’s website, I could pick it up there – probably within a week or so. And that’s exactly what I did. I then went to ShopRuger.com and ordered a compact stock module with raised comb to fix my LOP issues.

People complain about not giving local businesses a chance and that brick and mortar stores are losing large amounts of business due to online shopping.  But situations like this are WHY.

In the internet shopping age the only advantage to a brick and mortar shop is your customers being able to handle merchandise first-hand, grabbing something they need right now, and CUSTOMER SERVICE. If you can’t provide those things – particularly customer service – then why are you operating?

If you are complaining that your shop can’t compete with large chain stores – what are you doing about CUSTOMER SERVICE? Are you greeting people as they enter – particularly women who may be a little intimidated? Are you answering questions without being condescending? Details like that are what keep people (particularly women, who tend to be loyal shoppers) coming back to your business.

Maybe I’ll give that other shop a second chance with a scope or magazines. But probably not. I tend to carry grudges and I’ll likely just order online.

The shipping tracker says my new Ruger is on its way, and I’m very excited. I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t spend that money at someone’s private local shop, but oh well. Capitalism.

I’ll let you know how I like it.