DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The gun rush hasn’t been limited to just buying. Over the last eight months, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has licensed more people to sell guns in Texas, than in any other state. Hundreds more are waiting for the agency to approve their applications.
In the latest report from the ATF, Texas has 10,290 active licenses, about 2,000 more than the next closest state of California. Licenses were approved last month at the rate of more than three per day.
The growth has not resulted however, in traditional gun shops popping up in small towns. Buck’s Firearms, one of the new licensed businesses that opened in May in Fort Worth, has shotguns, handguns, AR-15s and ammunition. The inventory though is entirely contained in owner Brian Sifford’s office closet.
Sifford has a full-time job, but can run Buck’s in his spare time, and on nights and weekends. He makes calls and emails looking for specific orders from customers. He’s been to a couple of weekend gun shows. It took only about $1,000 in application and permit fees to get started.
“I think you’d be surprised at how many people are running gun shops out of their home,” he said. “A lot of people see this, like I did, as an opportunity to make a little money on the side.”
At a recent gun show, customers made little distinction between Sifford’s home based business and any of the larger, more established sellers next to him. He sold about half his inventory.
Until 18 months ago, Scott Platt worked out of his home too. It wasn’t easy money though he said. It took time to build a client base, and relationships with distributors to get good prices and selection. He made the decision to go to a traditional brick and mortar retail location, opening Bear Creek Firearms in Keller in 2011.
“It works for them and that’s what they choose,” he said about the new home-based sellers. “Will it increase the industry that much? I don’t know.”
Platt, a gunsmith since he was young, relies on offering specialized services now to build his business, and relationships with customers who want training and a personal sales touch. The low overhead costs new competitors have, is something where he knows they have an edge.
“I can’t compete with guys that work out of their house very well. I can give em away, I can keep people coming back, but I can’t compete with that.”
Sifford said he had always been interested in the business but was spurred to action by the rush in buying that started late last year. His wife helps with the bookkeeping. His goal isn’t necessarily to compete with larger retailers, but just make enough money to let his wife work from home if she can.
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