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Missive #76

I think I’ll finish that Text Fragments project later today. Will be glad to have it done. I was putting it off for a long time knowing how boring it was going to be.

I have also started another project, or more like an experiment, on how to include images/pictures in my WordPress site. I have no problem with one or two images it is when I want to group three or more together that it becomes a problem. Even a bigger problem if they are a mixture of portrait and landscape. You can see that in my old website pages; same issue in WordPress.

“Many people are starting to say: wait a minute, I don’t know if we want to use that money, because it will have a problem someday. But also, the world’s international currency is supposed to be completely neutral. Anybody can use it for anything you want. But now Washington is changing the rules. And if they get angry at you, they cut you off.…
In recent years recessions have lasted a year, two, three years max. This time it will probably last four or five years because the debt is so very, very, very high. And if there is war, more war, It’ll just make the recession last longer and longer.” — Jim Rogers, Co-Founder of the Quantum Fund and Chairman of Rogers Holdings

As JHK says, draw your own conclusions. I have concluded that the ‘jab’ is killing people and will continue to do so.

Side-note or post-script, for those interested in how the vaccination story is going: A close friend went into the CVS pharmacy looking for a “get well soon” card. There were none. A clerk on-hand right there in the aisle said, “we can’t keep them in stock.” No “sympathy” cards either. Draw your conclusions. — Dum-Da-Dum-Dum…Dah by James Howard Kunstler

Wal-Mart vs Small Businesses Revisited, or
A Real-Life Example of What to Do in a Free Economy
By John Ross

Copyright 2005 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.

A while ago I ran a column discussing Wal-Mart and its effect on the small business owner.  Go here if you haven’t read it.  Recently, a discussion popped up on a shooting-oriented Internet board I frequent that resulted in a lot of back-and-forth about “It’s my hard-earned money and I want the best price” competing with “If you don’t patronize your small shops and pay more they’ll close and you’ll be sorry.”

    My favorite gun shop in St. Louis is Trail Creek Trading. I’m a dealer myself (I focus on MGs and other rare, high-end stuff) and I still buy from Trail Creek. I bought a 629 Mountain Gun for $450 and two 41s (one a light barrel) for $1250 for the pair.

    Interesting fact: Trail Creek is ACROSS THE STREET from Wal-Mart!

    Yesterday, when I was in Trail Creek, I decided to go over to Wal-Mart and compare inventory.

    Remington 700 ADL, 10/22, 94 in 30/30, 870, Marlin 22, plastic-stocked Weatherby, and a couple of other uninteresting-looking long guns that I didn’t bother to identify.

    Generic 9mm, .45, and field loads (and I suspect .22s) in the ammo department

    Clay targets and a few other peripherals like cleaning kits and cheap glasses

    No handguns at all and no used guns

    Trail Creek:
    An entire two-sided 10′ long rack (out in the middle of the floor) of various milsurp rifles, almost every one under $100

    About 100 long guns, new and used, from blackpowder slug guns to an old sidehammer .52 rimfire to a Stevens Favorite to Rolling Blocks to Hi-Wall replicas to Sporting BARs to Marlin Guide Guns to Ruger #1s to semiauto military lookalikes to .458 bolt guns to Browning Superposeds, Auto-5s, and Citoris to Benellis to Winchester 97s, English and Belgian side-by-sides, and Italian copies of 19th century guns.

    About 150 new and used handguns, from a pair of dueling pistols to cap-and-ball revolvers to $140 Makarov and CZ-52 milsurps to $200 9mm Stars to police trade-in Model 10s to Colt New Services to new and used Airweights to Colt and clone SAAs to Taurus, SIGs, Rugers of all types, Berettas, 1911s, lots of Smiths including a 4″ 500 and a .25 ACP Smith J-frame(!) with moon clips made up by Hamilton Bowen and pictured in his book, etc. etc. etc.

    Ammo of all types from milsurp by the box or case to new mfg. steel-case Russian to Speer Gold Dot to Federal Hydra-Shok to Eley match .22rf to CB caps to buckshot to slugs (several types) to round balls for muzzleloaders in all sizes. Only thing not stocked was the Winchester white box available across the street.

    Concealment and belt holsters of various types, spare mags for popular autos, targets, a variety of solvents, and other accessories. I don’t think they sell reloading stuff as they don’t have room (it’s a small shop that uses ALL available space, but I may have missed it.)

    All prices were clearly marked on tags. I don’t have the MSRPs of all guns memorized, but for every gun they had where I DO know the suggested retail price, like Smiths, their marked price was lower. The 4″ 500 was $989, and they’re still a little scarce.

    Honestly, is this (successful) shop even in the same business as Wal-Mart? I don’t see it. There may have been some item of inventory they shared, like a bottle of solvent or a pair of ear plugs, but I couldn’t find it.

    Wal-Mart sells to the person who wants a generic rifle or shotgun of new manufacture for hunting or plinking. That’s it. Assume you’re a hunter and guns are just needed tools for hunting. Further assume you are the first hunter in your family and no one left any guns to you. Once you have bought your 10/22, 94, 700, and 870 from Wal-Mart to hunt with, what are you going to do?  Guns take forever to wear out, so you’re done buying guns, at Wal-Mart or anywhere else.  You’re not likely to buy duplicate copies of these same exact plain-vanilla hunting guns.

    But 80% of gunowners don’t hunt. (This is a fact that the Democratic Party leadership has failed to grasp, but that is and has been a subject for another column.) Almost all non-hunting gunowners either just like guns and shooting, or are interested in self-protection, or both.  A large number of hunters (I suspect at least half) also own guns for reasons other than taking game. It is this 90% of the market that will find Trail Creek much more interesting than the store across the street, once they’ve bought the cheap 870 or Model 94.

    Wal-Mart isn’t really in the gun business.  The example of Trail Creek shows how little of the gun market Wal-Mart actually addresses. A gun shop owner is a FOOL if he stocks ANYTHING costing over $10 that Wal-Mart sells.   Why is this concept so hard to grasp?

John Ross 4/1/2005

Comment from a reader:

    I suppose you don’t need people to tell you that you’re right, but your column on Wal-Mart is on the money. Four months ago I bought my own store, a retail video game and DVD movie store.  We do sell new stuff, but the real meat is in reselling trade-ins and renting out games and movies, neither of which Wal-Mart is involved in to any large degree.  My store is located diagonally across the street from a Wal-Mart that’s been in town for 15 years.  The only thing I’d change is to be in THEIR parking lot.

    If I don’t have a game in stock, I do not hesitate sending people over to Wal-Mart to pick it up, usually after I’ve offered cash for their trade-ins.  They’re also good for stocking low margin stuff like game systems (I make $6 on a $150 PS2) that I’m not going to bother with.

    I also enjoy getting impulse buy trade-ins (50% margin there) since Wal-Mart doesn’t let you try a game before you buy it, doesn’t employ anybody with game knowledge in the electronics section, and doesn’t give money back for an opened game.

    I’ve been running game stores for about 5 years now, and have been involved with the opening of a few others.  When discussing location, the first thing I ask them is “How close is the nearest Wal-Mart?”

    Anyway, my point is that even in a market that’s much more mainstream than the shooting sports, Wal-Mart is a blessing to small businesses. Heck, that’s where I buy my rental movies.


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