Yet another of my gun mentors offered to walk the Dixie Gun and Knife Show with me this past weekend (November 17, 18 2012). He explained that to sell a gun you basically tagged it with a “For Sale” sign and walked the show. He said people would just walk up to you and make offers.You could also ask dealers for bids. I had a Marlin 336 in 35 Remington that I’d decided to sell. I was in no rush but this might be my opportunity to make that happen. If not it would help me to understand what it was worth.
The last time I walked a gun show alone I was pretty overwhelmed. This friend was ex-military and had been around guns most of his life. This was an environment and culture he knew well. I made a list of things I was interested in looking at and I looked up prices online so I would know a good price when I was shopping. What I neglected to do was look up a price for the gun I wanted to sell.
We headed over Saturday around 9am when the show was supposed to open. We drove through the fairgrounds and aborted the trip. The line to get into the gun show was at least a 1/4 mile long and 3 abreast. My best guess was a 1-2 hour wait to get in the door and neither of us needed anything that bad.
Plan B was to try Sunday morning around 10:30am. That worked out much better! The line to buy tickets was about a 20 person wait. There was no line to get the rifle declared unloaded and zip tied shut for entry into the show. I didn’t even get in the building before I got my first offer: $175. I told the fellow that I had no clue what it was worth and I was going to check in with a few dealers before deciding to sell. I’m really glad I did.
Having a rifle propped up on your shoulder with a “For Sale” tag dangling from it meant stopping a lot to talk to people. My escort is very personable and engaged prospective buyers. Most conversations went like this, “My Dad gave me the gun but I had no idea what it’s worth and I’m going to find a dealer with a book to check the value. How much would you offer?” Bids seemed to rise as we got closer to the dealer tables: $200, $225, $275… This is not a good approach for the introverted, as we got plenty of interaction with strangers.
My friend guided me to a dealer table run by an business acquaintance and asked if they could check the “book”. He pointed out the entry, let me read it, and gave me a bit of feedback on the condition. Now I knew what was reasonable. I didn’t need to get top dollar but I also didn’t want to give it away.
I went back to the dealer who’d offered $300 and asked if he’d also make me an offer on the partial box of ammo I had. He did. I took a walk back to the car to retrieve the ammo while the dealer filled out a receipt. I unloaded the rifle and picked up $315.
I was very happy with how simple this was but learned to do my homework before starting this process. Although I know it’s a good strategy to have the buyer open with a price that does me no good if I don’t have a feel for the value of the item.
I also picked up two boxes of .223 Remington at the show. I have plans for more long rifle range time in the near future and the fellow I’ll be shooting with this time is bringing an AR-15. I want to arrive with my own ammunition if he’s generous enough to let me shoot it.
This gun show was the first after Obama’s election for his second term in office. I thought the long line the day before was folks looking to buy magazines they feel will soon become illegal. We asked several vendors if sales were up. The response: “Most people are just looking, sales are not really up. The thing that is different about this show is that fewer people are selling.”