Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Wide Open Spaces Of The Gun Shows Of Arkansas...

...that I have visited astound me. 

Brendan has been to several gun shows here in Arkansas since he moved a few months over two years ago and I've been to at least 4 or 5 of them since my first visit not long afterwards. Of course, he's been to more than me since he's been living here full time. Most of the ones one I have attended, the first in Hot Springs and the latest one yesterday in Little Rock, have had what I can only call piss poor attendance. One in Conway that Brendan and I went to together earlier this year, or maybe it was last year, had fairly decent amount of people there but even that palled to gun shows I've been to in NY.

At first I was wondering why gun show attendance would be so low in a state that is much more friendly to the RKBA than is a state like NY and I must admit I was befuddled. I asked the promoter at the Hot Springs show why there were so few people walking around looking at and buying guns & ammo and he told me because it was Sunday; he also said that the place had been swarming with people on Saturday and that is the norm for shows in AR. I call balderdash on that if only because I think I attended all the other shows on Saturdays. Of course, his idea of swarming may have been that a few hundred more folks was a swarm. The truth is that each gun show I have gone to here in AT, with the possible exception of the one in Conway, never seemed to have more than 75-100 people in the venues at any given time. I think 100 would be a stretch but maybe it got that high; in fact, it often seemed to me they'd have been lucky if there were 50 people in them at any given time.

Yesterday's Little Rock Gun Show was a good example. It was a fairly large hall and I am going to guesstimate that maybe there were 250 to 300 tables; and I know the venue has one room that can accommodate 300 tables and another room that can accommodate 100 tables and this was the larger of the two rooms. Not a big show but one big enough to draw a fairly large crowd throughout most of the day like gun show of similar sizes that I've been to in various parts of NY state. Such shows in NY as those at: Albany, Middletown, Saratoga (I think this one is no more), Yonkers (extinct, killed off by anti-gunners), White Plains (also extinct) and a couple small shows on Long Island were packed; the one in Albany I last went to was truly like being inside a Japanese subway car. Those shows were often so packed as to make it very difficult to walk up and down the aisles or to get close enough to a table to really see anything. The show yesterday in Little Rock probably never had much more than 75-100 potential customers inside at any given time, while I was there. Maybe they had more at opening time (which I missed by about an hour) or at closing and I left an hour before that.

So why was the show not packed for at least most of the day; even if there were 100 people in there at any given time, that is just one person for every three tables. Man it was slow.  So, I got to wondering why, once again, why do the gun shows in AR seemingly have such poor attendance. There are only two things that struck me as the possible cause. First is that maybe the selection of guns offered sucks. I looked around quite a bit and have to say, while not as wide a variety as I would have hope to see, there was a decent amount of diversity (yes I can be politically correct) of the gun lover's kind. I am guessing you know what might be the other possible major cause. If you are guessing it is the prices for the guns & ammo; well then, you hit the nail on the head or at least I think that's it.

Here are some of the I remember seeing:

Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistols with an asking price of $650.00 plus tax (and the particular dealer selling them told a customer the state sales tax was 10% although when I looked it up later, sales tax for Little Rock, AR is 9%). So, price plus a bullshitter of a dealer and yes he was a bullshitter as far as I am concerned. He had a certain pistol for sale which I looked over, a Beretta 1934. The finish was less than 40% in my estimation as that is what I believe is a very conservative estimate. As soon as I picked it up to look it over, he was on me like white on rice giving me his spiel. He told me how rare of a pistol it was, saying only 23,000 had been produced and how it was a fine shooter. Then he told me it was an excellent deal but I certainly thought it was more like highway robbery at an inflated price for its condition and considering that more than one million of them had been manufactured. There were many other way overpriced guns, in my opinion, at his tables and each time I stopped there to look something over it was like he was jumping on my back to try to make a sale. I think maybe that was a good clue as to how little business he was doing.

Then there was a Winchester Model 12 at another dealer's table. It was a 20 gauge in at best 80% but probably much closer to 70% finish condition. They were asking $700. Now the 20 gauge in this model is quite desirable and demands a premium over a 12 gauge but still, the going price for one of these, in better condition than this one, is usually closer to $500. 

Another gun I looked over closely was a Llama small frame pistol in 22 LR. It in essence looks like a Colt 1911, some have a rib others do not. They had had four of them, two in 22LR, one in 32 ACP and one in 380 Auto. They were asking $475 for the two in 22 LR. I had to bite my tongue to keep from blurting out how ridiculous was that price and from laughing out-loud. I mean really now - at 100% condition the highest value in a reputable firearm pricing guide is shown as 325. These were maybe 95% at the very best bringing the value down to $200 according to the same reference. That is one hell of a difference.

As you may know from my past blog posts, I've been known to pick up a bolt action shotgun now and then. So, when I saw a Mossberg 183T in 410 bore, I was thinking I might like to make a purchase. That was until I looked at the price tag - a whopping $300! In 100% condition it might sell for the recommended $175 that is shown in one of my reference guides. his one was maybe 85-90% as I saw it and they were asking $300. In my mind it was a $100 to $125 gun at most and that is somewhat higher than what the reference guide says. Now, I'll admit, one of these shotguns recently sold for $175 on GunBroker; the thing is that one looked to be in about 98% condition - a lot nicer than the one I saw at the gun show and remember the one at the show had a $300 price tag).

I also saw several average, at best, Mosin Nagant Model 91/30s for sale with asking prices of between $450 and $500. Nothing even mentioned on the tag as to whether or not they had matching numbers and once I saw the prices I just dropped em like hot potatoes. There was also a so called Mosin Nagant sniper rifle being offered at $800; now that is right at asking prices at other places where I have seen them being sold but I think this one was faked. It looked as if the original bolt handle has been taken off, then a hole drilled into the bolt and a bent bolt secured in that hole. For some reason, I do not think that is how they made the bent bolt handled bolts for these rifles in Russia back in the day.

There was also the Ruger Mini 14 with a price tag of $900. Yes you read that right and it was a used beaten up clunker with an early serial number prefix of 183 and nothing special about it.
Table after table, dealer after dealer, the prices were outrageous in my estimation. Of course though, there were some decent deals to be had if you looked but they were apparently few and far between from what I saw. 


Ammo, I think, was another thing that went along the same lines, it was mostly overpriced but maybe not as badly as were the guns. None of the ammo dealers seemed to be doing brisk sales as far as I could tell. I saw Blazer 22 LR ammo at one dealer (not the one pictured here) with a price of $5.00 per 50 round box. Even Cabela's sells the same sized boxes for $2.99 (source). That ain't cheap for this stuff but it isn't bad compared to the $5.00 per box that was to be had at one table at this gun show. 

Granted, I suppose anyone could have tried to haggle on the prices but what would that have accomplished on a gun for which a seller was asking more than double the book value of a used gun or was about 35 to 40% more than the going gun store price for a new gun. What would likely happen is that the dealer would come down in  price and an uninformed buyer would think he was getting a good deal while he was actually being hosed.

Remember, in addition to high prices, each customer had to pay $10 to get in at the door, or $12 for so called VIP tickets if bought online. VIP evidently meant no waiting. Me, I did it on the cheap; I paid $8 because I copied a discount ticket from the promoter's website and showed it to the cashier. I did not wait longer than showing her that, paying my money, getting my hand stamped and walking inside - all of maybe 30 to 45 seconds.

I almost wish I would have gone back today, to see if any of the pricing came down for the second day or if attendance was any better, but I decided to stay at my son's place with him to kill the day. Then again, no I really don't wish that, not even almost, because  I did not need to be disgusted for a second day by seeing those prices. I am guessing that very few if any, who attended the show yesterday, went back again today for much the same reason.

As to why gun shows in NY are attended more, well I think its not so much that the prices are good, they suck too yet I think are nowhere nearly as high as comparable to those here in AR, but that in NY people are grabbing guns as fast as they can before King Cuomo outright bans them all. In NY prices can be high and people still flock to the shows. As for AR flocking to a gun show is an oxymoron. My solution to the low attendance at the AR guns show which I have visited is for the dealers down this way to bring their prices down to competitive levels since it is not like their state government is hoping to ban anything. If they did that, I am willing to bet that attendance and sales would skyrocket.

All the best,
Glenn B