I just finished a trip to my local gun store, searching for ammunition needed for an upcoming handgun safety class. Let me just say that the experience soured my mood.
When the charity course was chugging along full speed, I went through ammunition by the triple handful every month. To make sure I wouldn’t be caught short, an effort was made to gather a stockpile to be held against need.
I’ve been semi-retired from charity work for some years now, and the stockpile has finally run low. Although I knew that ammunition and reloading supplies were difficult to find, the idea was to visit several stores in the area and buy a little here and a little there until everything needed was found.
This particular store is always busy, and they have traditionally kept the ammunition behind the counter so customers have to ask for what they want. This can be tedious, as customers have to take a number and wait for a time before a clerk becomes free to help.
Things had changed a bit in the year since I had last been there. A sign on the counter stated that practice ammo for three of the most popular calibers could be had at the cash registers by the front door, so anyone needing nothing but the three listed wouldn’t have to wait. This was fine, but I use a wide variety of handguns in my course. I hit the lever, collected my little paper slip with a red number printed on it, and waited my turn.
It took some time, but my number was finally called after close to an hour. I bellied up to the glass display case and asked for what I needed, confident that I would be on my way in a few minutes. After all, how much time would the clerk need to grab a few boxes of ammo and walk them up to the cash register?
To my confusion, I was met with an attitude that I can only characterize as being heavily infused with contempt.
“All ball ammo is kept by the cash registers.” the clerk said, ready to turn away and help someone else. When I pointed out that their own sign only mentioned three calibers to be found at the front of the store, and so it was logical to look for anything else in the back, he became frustrated and brusque.
“What sign?” he demanded. When I pointed it out to him, sitting big as life not more than three feet from where we were standing, he dismissed my comments with a shrug.
“We’ve been doing it this way for a long time!” he said, making obvious his belief that I was wasting his time.
I suppose, to him, I’m an idiot for actually reading their prominently displayed printed notices instead of simply using my psychic powers to pull the information directly from his brain.
Unreliable psychic powers or not, that was pretty much it for me. I walked out of there, but first made note of the prices for the ammunition they had in stock. The idea was to find what I needed for a similar amount. Surely, I thought, I could find such deals online.
My first stop was Lucky Gunner, an online ammunition seller that has excellent customer service.
I have a soft spot for Lucky Gunner because many of my students are homebound either through injury or advanced age. Even so, they have been able to have the ammo they needed to remain safe and secure delivered directly to their door. Even though the good folks at LG can’t possibly earn enough profit on a single box of ammo to make it worth their while, they still treat even the smallest orders as if they are the most important.
I managed to find most of what was needed at the Lucky Gunner website, but even they were short some of the more exotic stuff. Prices were almost exactly what the local gun store was charging, even after I added in the shipping and handling surcharge. I paid for what they had in stock, and went back into the Internet to find the rest.
An extremely handy website is GunBot.net. It doesn’t sell anything directly, but instead is a search engine that seeks out websites that offer ammunition, after market firearm magazines, and reloading supplies. It saves a great deal of time because GunBot will not only list the price of the requested item, but also if the retail website has it in stock.
It only took a few minutes for me to find the rest of the ammunition I need for the class. It should be delivered either this week or the next, in plenty of time.
As for my local gun shop, I doubt I will be going back there again. I turn 50 years old next year, and figure I might have 30 more years of shooting ahead of me before I get too knackered to hold up a gun. Why bother wasting time going to a brick-and-mortar store when I can order almost everything from a website in a fraction of the time? As they say, time is money!
A similar dilemma has been closing down bookstores for the past decade or so. Why get dressed to go out, only to find that your local bookstore doesn’t carry your favorite author? Better to just sit in front of your computer and order it from any number of online book outlets. You are assured of getting what you want, and you don’t have to deal with that rude clerk behind the counter.
I very highly doubt that gun stores will go the way of bookstore, however. Unless you happen to have the licenses required by the US government to be a firearms dealer, it is illegal to order new guns through the mail. If you want to purchase guns that are not listed as curios or relics, then you have to go through a regular gun dealer to get them.
But we can dream, can’t we?