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  • Shelbi R. Ankiewicz

Gun store sales increase during COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has negatively influenced almost all businesses, but one thing the pandemic has been good for, is gun sales. 

Local gun store, Rivertown Gun Depot, has had the busiest year since they first opened shop. Due to COVID-19, people have realized they must start taking care of themselves, rather than be reliant on the police. For many, the solution to that problem is to buy guns. Manager Gage Jordan said that the shop has a line of customers every day before they open the doors.

“They were about ten times more than we normally do,” Jordan said when talking about this year’s sales. “We were doing about $100,000 a year, and we’re over a million, already.”

The only problem the pandemic has caused for the Gun Depot, is a shortage of employees. Aside from that, the profits made this year has allowed the gun store to do something they didn’t anticipate happening for a while.

The store was given the opportunity expand. The shop currently resides on the end of a plaza. Soon, the gun store will take over that plaza in its entirety. Their inventory will also expand to include boats, crossbows and more. 

The Gun Store and Indoor Range, a gun shop located in downtown Conway, has also had an exceptional year. Their sales have increased at least 30-40% and they have seen a significant number of customers apply for concealed weapon permits. 

Store owner, David Floyd, highlights the reason he believes people are buying guns during this pandemic. 

Floyd said, “Anytime you have an incident that causes a panic, like if people can’t buy toilet paper, then they buy guns.”

The Gun Store’s top selling products this year have been concealed carry handguns and ammunition. Although their sales are increasing, their inventory has been decreasing. They are selling products so fast that the manufacturing company cannot produce enough to supply the demand. 

Therefore, the store had to put limitations on how much of a product a customer can buy. Ammunition is limited to one box per day, per customer. 

Socastee’s local gun store, 707 Indoor Shooting Range, has also had issues with inventory. They are selling out of all their guns and ammunition, while being supplied very little. This, again, leads to limitation of certain products.

“Sometimes we wonder how we’re selling so much when we have so little,” said Master Gunsmith and CCU alumni, Al McGinn. 

707 Indoor Range has also seen a spike in numbers when it comes to new gun owners. Prior to the pandemic, people didn’t worry too much about having to take precautions to protect themselves and their families.

McGinn said, “60% of our customers come in and say, ‘I’ve never owned a gun.’” 

Mike Cannoe, another employee, mentioned that there is an estimated amount of three million background checks a year. This year alone, over 80% of those background checks were new gun owners. He also said that every month, the record has been broken for first-time gun owners.

This trend is not only in South Carolina, but nationwide.

When asked in the KCRW radio broadcast, who is buying guns, Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis, said: “… we found that 110,000 Californians, current firearm owners, said that they have purchased a firearm in direct response to the pandemic. And that included roughly 47,000 new owners…”

Every gun store stayed open during the pandemic, for they are categorized as an essential business. Not many have implemented COVID-19 regulations in their stops, such as masks, social distancing, and the availability of hand sanitizer. Although, 707 Indoor Range said they sanitize before opening and closing. 

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