Kevin's Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel was featured in the May 2004 edition of "SHOT Business." |
(Volume 12, Number 5, pg. 20 )
Totin' in TALLAHASSEE
"Looking for an airline-proof gun case in Florida's capital"
Capital cities are, by their very nature, transient locales. Politicians, lobbyists and staff flow in and out continually. To me, that made it a natural place to find some quality travel gear. My cover story was that I would be flying to Texas for a major sporting-clays shoot and needed an airline-approved double-gun case to hold two expensive over/under shotguns. Price was not nearly as important as protection and meeting all airline regulations.
My research had shown a surprising paucity of gun shops within Tallahassee proper, so my first stop was in a small town just a few minutes outside the city limits. This shop was located in a small storefront on a downtown side street, just off the town's main street.
The interior floor space was not large, though there was quite a bit of firearms inventory for its size. Many were older, used models, and that concept also carried over to other items. The storefront signage indicated "antiques," and there was quite a bit of history on display there.
I was the only customer in the store and was greeted promptly by an older gentleman tending the counter. I gave him my story and he showed me the only gun case he had on hand - a modestly priced single-gun model that would not have met my needs. He also noted that he could order other models and broke out catalogs. He spent as much time as I required and pleasantly attempted to answer my questions.
Located in the downtown section of the city, this store's advertising and signage listed it as "Gun & Pawn." But it quickly became apparent that "Pawn" was a larger share of the business than "Gun."
The floor space was quite large, but most of it was taken up with TVs, small appliances, tool kits, CD players and other pawned merchandise. I was greeted promptly by a young man at the pawn counter. In the rear of the store was a modest firearms display manned by another young man.
Although there were few new firearms on display, the vast majority appeared to have come from the pawn side of the business, and there was virtually nothing in the way of accessory items. When I presented my story, the salesperson stepped back into the back and emerged with a battered single-gun case that looked like it had originally accompanied one of the long guns on the wall. When I asked if there might be something more suitable for my needs, I was told that was all they had.
When I inquired about the possibility of ordering a case, I got the distinct impression that if it wasn't on hand they didn't sell it.
My next stop was on a state highway on the west side of town. This area is given over to larger retail and repair businesses in the agricultural equipment and outdoor field. Store C was a small trailer tucked in among them, and when I walked in the door I realized that I had made a mistake in my research.
Although the concern was listed under "Guns" in the yellow pages, and though I had called to confirm location and business hours, I never actually asked if the store carried guns.
It didn't. I found myself in an archery shop that catered to advanced bowhunters. There were two young men and a young woman behind the counter when I walked in, and I was quickly greeted in a courteous manner.
They were very pleasant people, and when I asked them about the yellow pages listing, they just shrugged and said, "That's how the phone company lists us, and there isn't much we can do about it."
Plunging ahead anyway, I asked about long gun cases. (Most companies that make bow cases, which they did stock and sell, also make gun cases.) They did show me some catalog material and offered to order any I wanted. But they also told me that if I needed it quickly, I should go to another store, and they provided directions to it.
That happened to be the next stop on my list, so I thanked them and headed east.
This shop is a very large stand-alone building at the intersection of a major commercial thoroughfare and an interstate highway. Signage was excellent and there was plenty of parking.
My question as to why there were so few gun shops in Tallahassee was answered as soon as I stepped through the door. This place was huge, and very well stocked. There were over 20 people in the store and almost half seemed to be employees. I was greeted promptly by three of them before I had made it 15 feet inside.
The front section was taken up with clothing, including some very upscale brands. An interesting, and complete, fishing section was off to one side and I had a pleasant conversation with the young man tending it.
The gun department was on the other side and there appeared to be over 150 long guns on wall or floor display, along with an extensive array of handguns, ammunition and virtually any accessory a shooter would need - including a half-dozen different gun cases. Several would have met my needs, but I decided to be picky and approached an older gentleman at one of the gun counters.
He was very knowledgeable on the subject, including airline regulations. His basic attitude was that if I didn't see exactly what I needed on display, then by golly, we'll just go through the order catalogs and find exactly what I wanted. And he'd have it there within a few days. It was a very pleasant experience.
HOW DID THEY DO?
The salesperson was very pleasant, showed me what he had, and did offer to order an appropriate item.
It was obvious he had not flown with firearms in quite a while and was not up on current products and regulations.
The case he had was adequate for his immediate market area, and he did have catalogs on hand from which to order larger cases.
There seemed to be no interest in selling something that wasn't in stock, and there was no offer to order the product.
The salesperson had a very rudimentary idea of what I was after, and readily admitted he didn't have what I wanted in stock.
A shop of that size should have had more that one used gun case in stock, or at least the ability to order one.
Even though they could have ordered a case, they recommended a local store where I could obtain one quickly, I was impressed!
Although this was an archery shop, the staff had adequate knowledge of firearms cases and could quickly reference the appropriate catalog.
It wouldn't be fair to fault an archery shop for not carrying gun cases in stock, and they did have the means to order them.
Despite having an adequate in-stock inventory, the salesperson cheerfully opened the order catalogs to make certain I got what I wanted.
He knew exactly what I needed, what was available, who made it, and what would meet airline regulations. His advice was excellent - right on the money.
There were several cases in stock that would have worked. And he had the appropriate catalogs, and the willingness, to obtain otther models.
AND THE WINNER IS: STORE D
KEVIN'S FINE OUTDOOR GEAR & APPAREL
3350 Capital Circle N.E.
Tallahassee, FL 32308
This wasn't even close! The salespeople at Store D knew the product and had the inventory and a great business attitude. It's easy to see why this store is so successful.