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Surplus shop + Guns

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Ok, so a few weeks ago many of us were throwing around the idea of opening a shop in reading.
I was one of the guys who was really interested in this idea, the reason, i love guns and i am good with public. so a shop would be a wise idea for me.

Now the issue is, in an ideal world, i would open up down in Thanet, i have friends here, not the best place, but its home.
The issue, the closest site is dover, which is 20miles away.
I could move to canterbury or dover, but then that would give me competition, which for small business can be a very hard thing to deal with.

Now the plus side i need to know, is the factor of the Shops, Due to being unused for a long time id be able to get a shop unit real cheap, and id get a good size, as most of the owners of the shops in the area become desperate and get the units licensed for A1 A2 and A3, Ideally id like to incorporate a affiliation with a site, but due to lack of, i was thinking about opening one, would bring good business to the shop.
Down side, i have no idea how to even approach the idea for starting a site. (any one with info would be accepted)

and the final matter is, Who would come to the site, Yes there are many cadet forces in the area, 3/4 towns in local proximity which would find use of the surplus nature, but the guns part. Airsoft is a very well kept secrete. The majority of people that would come into the shop would see these toys, and not realize that a license is needed to purchase these "toys" and with the nearest site being 20 miles even fewer are going to bother in getting the UKARA.

So tell me would this venture be worth while. or shall the idea remain in lala land.

Ill keep added the ideas to which i wih to incorporate into the shop if it was to go ahead

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Ok, can only write from my limited experiences and gaming shop / laser site (dont laugh) use. In any business you need something unique that brings people to you, a pile of nice shiny RIF's will look great, but you will be charging more than the net (you have your rent to pay and your salary) and you cant sell them to most people as they wont be UKARA registered... So I would see this as hurdle number one.

Linking with 1 or more sites if they are willing (not sure how many run their own shops) is a way to get yourself known and also give person off the street the option to get UKARA registered and buy that shiny RIF that caught their eye in the first place. The schemes for Hire Purchase, where the RIF is kept safe locked up until the UKARA in place and then theirs, etc.

I would suggest having a range of 2 tone weapons as well as RIF's, both budget and the decent 2 tone stuff as well as paint options for RIF purchases. This allows for new starters who want their own decent rifle to get it up front. While still catering for the visiting skirmisher looking for something now, rather than in a few days which end of the day is the one thing a shop can offer the net cant. Instant toys and chance to hold what you buying in advance.

Obvious army surplus and tactical gear options again for your off street sales as well as mil simmers.

Other Ideas to pull people into the shop apart from just to buy a RIF or new vest:
Coffee shop / meeting area with boards around about local airsoft teams and places to play?
Target range down the side? Let people use their own, rent one of 3 or 4 'shop' weapons or try out that new RIF?
Gun maintenance courses and AEG servicing?

Risks I can see, bet there is a site in Reading somewhere that could be competition. (EDIT: Found it, 'The Mall' opened in May, noted on their site "The onsite shop will sell BB’s, Pyrotechnics, gas and a range of other Airsoft equipment at competitive prices.")
Relations with local Police / community need careful handling so they understand what airsoft is and that you are not filling their streets with RIF's to 10 year olds.
Will this be your money on the line? Shops can be very risky business moves, a lot of shops fail fairly quickly and would hate to see you lose money on it.

That said, if you would be the only shop in an area, can be the first, have something unique as a business and have a sound team / right links why not go for it. All the airsoft sites / shops we know were started by someone with vision and drive. Living near Reading I would visit you, but the challenge is to catch me and keep me coming back :)

Southdown Airsoft

Southdown Airsoft

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Hi there,

I set up and run Southdown Airsoft .. as the name might suggest, before thinking about what shop size etc to get you need to start from scratch.

1) Do your research thoroughly, write up a business plans with objectives in set time periods allowing you to monitor progress, my business plan was roughly 14,000 words not including graphs and quotes. you should write it up as if you were trying to sell it to someone providing spreadsheets showing potential profits and turnover as if one day you needed a loan from the bank to help cash flow or expand, you have all this to show them.

2) sort out a name for the business and start trying to contact wholesalers you'll need as many price lists to compare as possible to keep your costs down and your profits in the green, the retail market is not what it once was and you'll need to be savvy with the products you choose.

3) I recomend setting up a website before renting floor space, around the out reaches of london commercial high street rents can be as high as 35,000 pa plus around 20,000 business rates so you'll really have to be motoring to shift enough stock to stay afloat. Where as a simple but smart website can cost as litle as a few hundred pounds a year and can be run from anywhere.

4) If you know of any suitable areas urban or woodland available to rent Southdown Airsoft may be interested in a new investment, open to a joint venture if the correct business partner comes along.

I hope this helps in some way.




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Well my idea was as follows
for the shop;
1) entry level RIF's and IF's such as G&G, classic army. ect, guns for 200 and less. but still bloody good to skirmish.
2)Electronic recepts, free email alerts for local games/event. and a instore try before you buy on an indoor range.
3) What has come to be known as my Merc package. Gun with a choice of 3 upgrades, (E.G. Sight, silencer, foregrip) at a packeged price with reasonable saving.
4) Offer loadout packages, many airsofter will look online for ideas on loadouts, what i want to do is break the clothing part of the shop into various load outs, one isle for ACU, another for DPM ect. with manikins to show example to the loadout.
5)due to many of the units ive been looking at they come with A1 A2 and A3 licence, so im covered if i want to sell hot food to customers who are waiting while their gun gets serviced.
6) Gun serivce abilt, change out parts general maintance, even help show warry players how to upkeep their weapon.
7)offer a friendly enviroment for the customer, TV and sofa with an Xbox hooked up so customers can browns and play, see an idea from rainbow six you like. perfect show me that load out and we will try and replicat it, dont have it, we will order it just for you.
8) we know that airsoft is a well kept secreat come into my show look at the notice boards, and you will see every event that is upcomming plus details for forums and phone numbers to get in contact with the sites.
9)UKARA friendly shop, dont have a licence yet, fine, chose the gun you want, and we will swap out certain parts(depends on the gun you choise) and we will keep the originals at the ready for when you get your UKARA number, then bring it back to the shop and we will put the original parts back on for you at the extra charge. didnt keep your recept, no problem, every transaction vaild for this offer will be put into out computer database so when you returen state your name and we will get the recept for you. (backups make every week and kept in secondary location)
10)the Care package. Simular to the mrc package and loadout. this gives you the supplies. carepackage includes Ammo (.20/.25) a ration pack(choice from selection) Set of dog tags(free engraving) 2 batterys 8.4/9.6, charger, speed loader. and a pair of safely glasses and 1 british army multipurpose provision aka duct tape(old joke)
11) in the local area there are 10 differnt cadet forces, which can be used to provide provisions and surplus clothing to the local cadet force, ration packs, DPM clothing, and would be a huge help for getting people into airsoft. as they would already have the interest in gunplay

Plus several more ideas.

The idea that i had about a site, was based on the fact that two stes were local to my location but no longer active, if i can get in contact and get permission depending on who owns the land depends if i can follow though with what the previous site owners fail on. this would be a more long term goal if attempting to open a shop though due to insurance requirments and would prove to require a large investment.
But several factories have come onto the market as of recent which could prove cheaper then a whole field, and the CQB element would prove refreshing as the majority of sites in the immediate area are fields or quarry.

Just to note, the original plan was for reading but reading prove to be too expensive, as i have found it better to remain where i am (thanet south east kent) As there the closest surplus stores are a good 15-20 miles away, which would give me a advantage for starting up, but the downside is that there are no local sites, other then dover, and a few sites that were local are now inactive.

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