AZFirearms in Avondale, Arizona, is physically a really small store, but it has an inventory of more than 1,200 guns in stock.
“We specialize in military and old cowboy guns, and collectible guns,” owner Dan Todd says modestly as he downplays the “Largest Small Gun Shop in Arizona.” “We also carry the Glocks and the SIGs and all that,” he adds. “We’re authorized SIG dealers. We also are a Kimber Master Dealer. We also do gunsmithing here, but our shop is super small. We have everything from a pocket pistol all the way up to a 105mm howitzer.
“We’re also a manufacturer. We have an R&D manufacturing license and are also a destructive device dealer,” he says, which only suggests to me that there is more to this dealer than meets the eye.
AZFirearms also lists rental guns for motion picture use as part of its business and, in addition to the gun shop, has an adjacent auction house that Todd says is “tied” to the gun shop. “If someone comes in with 100 guns, we can buy them, because we can put them in the auction or we can put them in our retail store. Customers can also consign guns to the auction house,” he explains.
“I Do All My Buying at SHOT”
With so many ways to sell, SHOT Show is of particular importance to AZ Firearms. Todd even stays an extra day after the show to discuss with his team what they all saw and then uses the five-hour drive home to brainstorm. “Last year I took my manager and the manager of the auction side with us, and we started planning immediately,” he says. “We ordered a new holster line called Alien. We got on that right away. We got some cleaning supplies right away,” he says of how quickly AZFirearms moves on what they see at SHOT, before adding, “I do all of my buying for the year at SHOT Show.”
In addition to shopping, Todd looks for stocking dealer programs and other incentives available at the show.
“I’ll talk to distributors about trying to carry their products, anything I can do to make it the best for me. I try to buy in quantity to see if I can get better deals.”
Also while at SHOT, Todd and his team visit face-to-face with sales reps they may only know from over the phone. “That always helps with the relationship,” he says, as well giving him the chance to gather any photos, video or other collateral marketing material a manufacturer might have on new products. “We take a marketing person with us to the show, and they’ll go around and collect photos and video of various guns. We’ll show those clips here and there on Facebook or YouTube and things like that.”
The Other 51 Weeks of the Year
Following up on contacts made at SHOT is a must for AZFirearms. Todd says that as the business owner, he used to do everything himself, but now he delegates. “I took my manager there and kind of let him have that part of it, where he’s the buyer now and he picks a product out, and when he comes back to Phoenix, then he gets online with the manufacturer or distributor and makes sure orders went through,” says Todd.
When promoting a new product, Todd says AZ Firearms likes to have the product on hand so customers can see it right away on Facebook or Instagram. The store does a lot of e-blasts, especially around promotions or holidays, and Todd and his wife, Cheryl, also have a radio show/podcast called Gun Freedom Radio, where they promote new products that have arrived in the store.
“My wife and I set up this radio show,” explains Todd. “We pay for the airtime, but we talk about guns and gun safety and the people who are movers and shakers in the gun business. We also talk about laws, things like that. Right now, we’re doing it once a month.”
Todd’s store and auction house managers both spend time every day at various online listening posts monitoring what people want to buy, and when his salespeople are not busy, they’re scouring the internet for any hot new products the team might have missed at SHOT Show. “We have meetings once a month to discuss new products,” Todd says of the ongoing monitoring.
Overall, Todd says the biggest takeaway from SHOT Show for him is the experience and getting to connect with his sales reps and other people in the same industry. He particularly likes the State of the Industry event, where he says he meets a lot of other dealers. He likes the seminars on compliance, too, because they “freshen you up” and keep you in tune to what’s going on.
“I do encourage and urge all dealers to try and go to SHOT Show because there is so much,” says Todd. “New product, new equipment, stories that you hear from everybody. It’s just a great connection. You can connect with the ATF and NICS staff and all of the fine people over at the NSSF. We have learned so much more about what the NSSF does by attending the shows and taking with them. It’s just great!”
About the Author
Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for such storied publications as American Rifleman and Field & Stream. He has produced award-winning television programs on personal-defense and has hunted extensively in North America, Europe and Africa.