So, in your retail space do you intend to stock more than firearms?
Such things as hunting, camping, fishing, general sporting good store merchandise?
The reason I ask is our family had been in retail hardware, auto parts, and sporting goods for many years. These businesses and a couple of others provided for our family for many years fairly well. (1947-2003)
My brothers and I left the businesses in the 1970's and struck out on our own. We didn't go into retail. Instead, individually, we became engineers and contractors.
I do know this, it is very hard these days, even during economic boom times for independent retailers to thrive. The large volume chain stores and even somewhat the internet has nearly squashed the little guy.
IMHO, however, it can be done sucessfully and one can provide fairly well for their family with hard work and offering to their customers excellent service. For the small guy all he has left to entice a good base of return customers is not good but excellent service. You will have to advertise but the best advertisement is word of mouth. Good products, excellent service, and knowing and taking care of your cutomers well, usually wins out at the end of the day.
The most sucessful long time around independent gun stores here are actually sporting good stores. They carry firearms, firearm related acessories, reloading componets, camping and hunting gear, and fishing gear. The one I actually go to the most has more fishing gear and equipment than anything else.(Yes, I fish alot also) However, they also have more selection and quanity of firearms and related acessories than any other store within 100 miles and their prices usually can't be beat for firearms and ammo. The place is about 6000 sq. ft. building and is always packed with customers any time of day you go there. This guy (the owner) says he has been in business since 1962 at this location and always been open 7 days a week and although it hasn't always been a good business overall through the years it has been better than worse. He also owns as of the last 6 years a quad runner (during summer) and snow mobile (during winter) dealership across town. He says that business sucks for his dealership now due to the economy and people just not wanting to or can't spend money, but that his sporting good store is carrying it. He feels the dealership business will come back in a couple of years and that he is poised to hold on till then.
So theres one way to go at it - deversity- in merchandise and over time related diversification into other businesses.
Another way to go at it is aiming (no pun intended) for a niche market.
Got to go for now but will return later with another post.