This is our seventh post in the series How Pawnbrokers Can Sell Inventory Online.
There are many different websites that enable pawnbrokers, other resale shops and individual sellers to sell firearms and other hunting gear online. We’ve listed a few of the most popular for you:
Since guns and other tools for hunting and self-defense are such a key moneymaker for pawn shops, any pawnbroker who wants to have a complete digital presence needs a way to sell firearms and their accessories online — but they need to know the right platforms to use.
Find the Right E-Commerce Site to List Your Firearm Inventory Online
Let’s explore the channels that do allow you to sell guns. We’ve compiled information about each online channel for you below, but you can also refer to this table for a quick guide:
|Verification Required?||No||Yes, $1||Yes, $1 (refunded)||No, but Optional||No|
|Final Value / After Sale Fee||None||Varies – See Below for Specifics||Varies – See Below for Specifics||None if local, OR 2% of selling price if not||No|
|Advertising||~$2500/mo||Yes, specifics not public||Yes, specifics not public||$0-$199/mo||$20-$90/mo|
|More Like Craigslist or eBay?||Craigslist||eBay||eBay||Craigslist||Craigslist|
|Levels of Membership||Regular and Premium Member||No||No||Basic, Trusted, Platinum||No|
Most of these websites also allow you to pay anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars to highlight your listing or make it stand out in some way.
Now we’ll explore each of these websites in more detail to help you figure out which one is best for your pawn shop.
Two men who had met at the Air Force Academy decided to create ArmsList after Craigslist began banning ads promoting guns. They encourage selling locally and are anti-spam.
We particularly enjoy this section of their FAQ:
Many pawnbrokers are already taking advantage of ArmsList. It’s a nationwide sales channel and is growing more popular by the day.
How to Use ArmsList
Just like Craigslist, listing and selling are free on ArmsList.
It’s extremely easy to use; in fact, you don’t even need an account to buy and sell. You simply have to select your state and the type of firearm you’re selling and upload your basic information.
If you’re serious about selling on ArmsList, though, you might want to create a Premium Vendor account, which allows you to have a nice-looking virtual storefront, link the store to your website and bypass some of the default settings so that posting becomes less cumbersome.
Unlike other channels we’ve discussed in this blog series like eBay and Amazon, the internet seems to be largely silent about ArmsList’s revenue, investments and other business activities.
So far, lawsuits have rarely if ever involved the sellers themselves, and every lawsuit against ArmsList has been dismissed.
The risk of lawsuit is always an intrinsic part of doing business, but be aware as you sell guns online that your risk of lawsuit is probably higher. As always, be sure to obey the laws of your state and follow your usual procedures when selling to people who find you on ArmsList or any other online channel selling guns.
If ArmsList is the Craigslist of guns, GunBroker is eBay. The site gives off a clean, trustworthy, professional vibe.
Like eBay, GunBroker displays seller ratings, allows you to pick favorite sellers, see how many views/bids an item has and add a seller to your favorites.
You must create an account in order to create a listing, place a bid or buy. You also have to pay an activation fee of $1.00 and, if you are flagged as “suspicious,” a verification fee of $2.00 before you begin selling. (Of course, if GunBroker determines that the account holder is indeed suspicious after verification, the site will ban them from selling).
Security measures such as these have probably protected GunBroker from the negative attention ArmsList has faced. These precautions also protect you as a seller!
Other Special Features of GunBroker:
- For an extra $15, you can get the value of your gun appraised
- With the GunBroker Pricing Report, you can see average prices for your gun model over the past 12 months
- Bulk Lister available for listing multiple items at once
- Discounted FedEx Shipping
GunBroker uses an auction format in which users can bid on firearms, but, like eBay, you can also choose a “BuyNow!” price or a fixed price.
The trade-off is that, like eBay, you have to pay a final value fee if your item sells:
GunBroker takes completion of sales very seriously and terminates accounts of sellers that cannot complete a transaction.
Therefore, if you use the site, you’ll want to either:
- Have an e-commerce integration system that makes delisting practically instantaneous if an item sells on another site or in your store, or
- Keep the inventory separate — Have inventory on GunBroker that you don’t display in-store and don’t post on any other online channels
GunAuction identifies sellers through credit card verification ($1, just like GunBroker). You also have to create an account in order to buy or sell.
The site is easy to use and easy to understand, and it includes a helpful blog with tips for buying and selling guns online. It has a search engine and sorts guns by type and condition.
Although it’s free to register on GunAuction, you are charged a Final Value Fee just like on GunBroker and eBay:
That may look pretty complicated, but what it breaks down to is that selling on GunAuction is generally going to be slightly more profitable than selling on GunBroker. Plus, GunAuction has a calculator to help you figure out the Final Value Fee.
On GunAuction, you will be charged a Final Value Fee of $8.13 for a $300 gun (or 2.7% of the sale price).
On GunBroker, you will be charged $8.75 for the same sale.
While the difference between these fees is pretty negligible, it’s something to keep in mind if you’re going to sell a high volume of firearms. Plus, if you sell an item for $1,500, the difference becomes more noticeable:
Final Value Fees on a $1,500 Gun
You also have the option of listing a “Buy It Now!” price that’s higher than your starting auction price.
GunsAmerica has a sleek, user-friendly interface and includes sellers from all over the country. The website has a pretty impressive selection, including almost every brand and type of gun you can think of.
It even has some interesting non-gun products like rocket-propelled grenade launcher replicas…perhaps for those who want to act out a life-size Halo 2 game?
Some Features of GunsAmerica:
- Sales or auction format available
- “Guns Near Me” selection for buyers who prefer to shop local (this could be great for pawn shops, as customers will see your guns online and then come to your store to buy)
- Informative blog so you can keep up on the latest gun trends
- Local ads are FREE, and you don’t have to pay an After-Sale Fee for local sales (within 50 miles of your zip code)
- Your customer service is very important on GunsAmerica. If you do not answer a buyer inquiry within 7 days, the website may suspend your account without notice.
How to Sell on GunsAmerica
GunsAmerica calls itself an “advertising system, nothing more.” Sellers are responsible for their items’ legality. Creating an account and posting an ad are free, but you can pay to highlight or feature your ad or upgrade your seller membership.
If you sell to someone outside a 50-mile radius of your pawn shop, your after-sale fee will be 2% —BUT guns have a minimum after-sale fee of $20, while nonguns have a minimum of $2.
So the result is that GunsAmerica is probably one of the best channels if you sell locally and/or sell expensive guns, but one of the least cost-effective if you try to sell to someone farther away or sell cheaper guns.
As a point of reference, you would only be charged an after-sale fee of $30 for the $1,500 gun, which beats out GunBroker AND GunAuction, but for the $300 gun you would be charged $20, which is more than twice the fee of the other two sales channels.
However, there are some upgrades you can make to change these fees. Here are a couple of charts from their Fees page for your convenience:
Take a look at the seller membership levels. You’d have to sell an awful lot of guns for the Platinum Access membership to be worth it, but if your shop specializes in firearms, the Platinum Access membership may be a worthwhile investment for you.
TexasGunTrader prioritizes what’s near the buyer, above and beyond product description— which is great for pawn shops. It has a search feature, but it is not prominent. Since it’s purely focused on the state of Texas, Texas pawnbrokers don’t have to worry about gun sales across state lines, which have to be from a federal firearms license holder to another FFL holder.
At the top, you can click a city like “Dallas” or “El Paso,” and immediately go to a page that shows what guns are for sale near you.
Likewise, if you’re particular about a brand, you can also click your favorite brand at the top. You have to scroll past the ads to actually see the brand listings, because the ads are purely local. So if I click Dallas first and then click “KAHR,” it shows me these ads:
Then, as I scroll down, it shows me KAHR brand items.
Likewise, if I click “Fort Worth” and then “Smith Wesson,” I see these ads—which are not all Smith & Wesson:
Similar to Craigslist, once you click a city, the URL changes. For example, I am browsing on fort-worth.texasguntrader.com.
TexasGunTrader requires both buyers and sellers to register. Like Armslist, it is free to buy and sell. The advantage of TexasGunTrader over Armslist would be that if your pawn shop is in Texas, you will probably fare better. It also hasn’t drawn the same negative legal attention and is a purely local channel.
Hopefully this post has provided you with the information you need to pick at least a couple of channels to use for selling firearms and other hunting or self-defense inventory safely, credibly and profitably online.
Do you have a multi-location pawn shop? Do you have complex inventory management needs and need to synchronize your listings across multiple websites? Here’s the main issue you might encounter: The only site we’ve discussed in this post that integrates with popular e-commerce synchronization systems is GunBroker.
Which of these websites has your pawn shop used to sell firearms? In your experience, which is the most effective, bringing you the best buyers and highest profits?
Stay tuned for our next posts, which will explore how to take amazing photos of your inventory for online sales channels and how to manage your e-commerce sales through a point-of-sale system!