This morning at about 0710, Brendan and I set off for Danbury, CT and Big Al's Gun and Premier Knife Show. We got there at about 0830. The show itself was being held in some hotel or another, I did not even notice the name, but if I did I probably would have forgotten it by now. Since we arrived early for the opening of the show we had breakfast at the hotel. It was buffet style and I must admit they had great service for seating, coffee and juice but the buffet itself was lacking a bit. Not terrible, okay I suppose, better because I had good company and ebcause the coffee was good. Then we walked into the show.
Well, we paid first. Brendan paid his own way in using the $1.00 of coupon I had given him. It was $7.00 with the coupon. I paid my way, got my hand stamped and we were in. At first I was in pensive almost shocked mode because what I saw was a room with about 30 tables. The online ad said there would be 200 tables. Lucky for the show promoter that he did have another room with more tables set up adjacent to the first one we entered. Unlucky for us though that this was, in my not so humble opinion, about the worst excuse for a gun show that I have ever attended. If it really had 200 tables, and it may well have had that many, then the percentage of tables that had guns displayed on them was pretty low. There was a total, yes a total, of 25 tables that had a number (above 1) of firearms displayed on them - one with only BB or pellet guns, and another that had a single gun (maybe there were two tables like that). Most of the guns being offered for sale seemed to be used. There were some new guns and many of those appeared to have had seen many a gun show and to have been handled by many a gun show goer. They had nicks, scratches and so forth. Some were pristine but truly not all that many.
Of all the other tables, two were not occupied by anything - they were simply left bare. This is, in my mind, not the sign of a good promoter; I think he should have at least let the adjacent tables' dealer use them for free to make it look better - that would have been better marketing. Another set of at least three maybe four tables was used up to hawk jerky, hot sauce, and flags (all being sold by one dealer). Of the remainder of the tables, I am going to guesstimate that about 50% of them held guns related items like magazines, sights, hunting books, cleaning equipment, bayonets, stocks, holsters and so on. There were about 10 tables at most dedicated mostly to ammunition sales, and the ammo for sale was often way overpriced. The remainder of the tables displayed mostly knives and knife accessories. Actually there may have been more tables dedicated to knives than tables dedicated to a combination of everything else but maybe that is just me overreacting to the paucity of tables displaying firearms. That though is no underestimation - I counted the tables that had more than one firearm displayed on them and the number I came up with after two counts was 25 between both rooms. I asked a few people if there was yet another room but was told that was it.
We milled about, looked here and there, and the only thing that truly caught my eye was a Beretta Silver Pigeon 12 gauge for $160. It was well used and also well worn. Knowing little of the value, and not having my price guide, I decided to hold off on that one. Brendan showed some interest in a Mosin Nagant M44 of Russian manufacture. It had a small crack in the foregrip, but otherwise looked pretty good. They wanted $125 for it but he never even bothered to ask if they would take less. I do not recall what it was but he saw something else wrong with it that made him shy away from it. I thought he should have at least asked if they would take less and told him to start at $75 and maybe go to - well to whatever he was willing to pay - but it turned out he was unwilling to pay anything for it. I guess I don't blame him because the dealer had walked over complaining he had to pay almost what he was selling it for when he bought it. Yeah - right!
Now lest you think I may just be griping too much about how much this show seemed a disappointment to me, let me tell you some specifics that got me feeling that this show was little more than a rip-off:
A box of 525 rounds of CCI Blazer .22LR had an asking price $30. This is one of the cheapest varities of .22LR ammo out there. I did an online search and found it advertised in a few places at less than $20 for the exact same thing. Even if you had to pay shipping it would be cheaper than the asking price at the show - and remember I had to pay almost $10 in tolls, gas money for a 150 plus mile round trip, and an entry fee to the show.
Boxes of Wolf 7.62x39 FMJ ammunition ( the stuff in the black boxes) going for $13 per box of 20 rounds. That would make a case of 1,000 go for $650 if the boxes from a case were sold individually. This dealer tried to explain to me that 500 rounds often passed as a full case nowadays with regard to this specific ammo. I don't know what dark hole he pulled that information out of, but it had to be a smelly one. Sure another dealer had the same exact ammo for sale at much less, I think it was $8.00 per box which may not be too bad selling it by individual box but I still cannot imagine the audacity of one of them asking $13 per box.
A box of CCI Mini Mag .22LR solid point, 100 rounds for $10, the price went up top $12 a few minutes later - and I later heard this particular dealer complaining to another that he was not selling anything. I do not wonder why! I can get these for $7.17 at Sportsmansguide.com without my Buyer's Club Advantage savings.
30 round AK magazines going for $20 apiece. Bear in mind these are not gun stores selling this stuff, this was a gun show vendor who had no business cards for a real storefront business ( I asked him for one and he said he was just a show vendor). I can easily find AK mags in just as excellent condition at online dealers for: $9.95 - see Aim Surplus. Note they had no AKs for sale, apparently they were banned in CT.
New Rifles - if there were more than 40 brand new rifles - as in not used - on display and for sale at this show I would be amazed - and come to think of it I would be surprised if there were more than 30.
Now there was a high point to the show, that was when my friend Pete K. showed up at about 1000. I introduced Brendan to Pete and we all three walked around again and again looking at stuff, and we chewed the fat. It is always nice to see Pete K whenever I have the opportunity. He retired from my job a few years back already, and I can truly say he was one of the better people I have ever met in my 30 year career (well it will be 30 years next month). He is a true gentleman and a patriot as well as a good friend. Sadly Pete dd not have time for a beer and lunch and we parted ways all to soon.
Brendan and I headed home with nothing to show for our time at the gun show, but at least with some good feelings of camaraderie between us and for Pete K. That made the trip to Danbury well worth it in my book, but next time I won't bother to stop at Big Al's Gun and Premier Knife Show - I'll just take the trip to visit my pal. Then again, there is another gun show coming up in September. This one, run by The NortheastGunShows.com and also referred to as the The Great Firearm & Knife Show will be held at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Middletown, NY on September 12 and 13, 2009. The show in Middletown has always been fair to good maybe even very good, and I am hopeful that Brendan and I will make that one too. We are both hopeful that Pete K as well as a few other of my friends from work (retired and current)can also make it. If you are thinking of going, here is a link to a $1.00 off coupon.
I anticipate that we will enjoy the Middletown show much better; as I said it has usually been a much better show than was the one we attended today.
All the best,