OSI Marketing / Savvysurvivor gun show schedule and after show reviews
Note to our friends and associates from Alex Osinski
As some of you folks know, Savvysurvivor started out in my garage as something of an underground online publication and networking mechanism for survivalists in the San Francisco Bay area. Back then, about our only products were jigs used to assist home gun builders in finishing their own frames from 80% castings. I bugged out of California in 2001 and while I returned for employment several times, the low cost of living and legislative climate of the Oregon coast made it my real home over the last few years. Recognizing the limitations of the local economy and that I had accumulated considerable inventory, gun shows began to make sense. Now joined up with some business associates, we are covering several gun shows (and most of the major ones) in Washington and Oregon.
The gun shows give me the opportunity to meet readers face to face along with a lot of other interesting people from various forums and even some writers from the gun and tactics publications. Note, FFL or restricted items will not be available from us at most of these shows. Our FFL inventory is kept at a local shop in Oregon and does not leave the state while most of the shows are in Washington. The guns we have on display a the Washington shows are for display purposes only or privately owned by friends who live in Washington and are helping out at the booth.
16-17 Monroe Washington, two day show. This will be a first time for us in this location so we don't know what to expect. I am hauling up a ton of merchandise for this one but am still short on some items like Eotechs.
Show AAR - This one is held at the local fairgrounds along with several other events the same day. This one is put on by Washington Arms Collectors, the same outfit that promotes the big Puallup show. Some vendors complained that it was a "dead show" but in looking over their prices and the quality of their merchandise, I found their reactions not so surprising. Prices varied widely on some items so it definitely pays to shop around at this one but jump on a good deal when you see it. Not much of the "good stuff" traded hands and some pretty good deals went untaken. Oddly enough, I saw some real junk sitting on tables at high prices Saturday morning but by Sunday afternoon that stuff was gone. There is usually a lot of local trading in AK variants because some people in that area have a manufacturing license and are building AK kits on their own sheet metal receivers. This includes some using a few unique innovations like a rear trunion with no stock mount, just a sling swivel and thus suitable for making AK pistols from AMD-65 kits AK pistols from the exact same manufacturer went for $400 and $700 in some private party deals, with the higher price seller obviously fishing for a desperate buyer and the $400 seller being serious about selling the gun to pay for some other stuff he wanted. Saw a Beretta 92F trade quickly at $350 and another lingered on a guy's table to eventually go back home with him at $800 due to the fact that it had a set of old style crimson trace lasergrips on it. Nothing wrong with lasergrips, but they sure don't bump the value of a gun by $400. The surplus cannon barrel guy was there with some hard to get stuff like large caliber projectiles and I managed to score some East German smoke grenades that were left over from Paragon's import batch about ten years ago. I don't think there was a single Eotech for sale in the whole building (as my batch had not made it in time). The big ammo dealers had jacked prices on 7.62X39 to $115 per case and still sold out of it. The surprise was that both had SS109 at $170 per case of 1K rounds and did not sell out. Gold and silver were for sale from a few small wheeler dealer guys, but prices seemed a bit less than consistent with current national markets with the guys not wanting to come below $10 per oz for silver bullion. As the negotiations deteriorated from there, I never learned their buy prices but some other locals told me that the pawn shops had fixed buy prices significantly below spot. .
23-24 Seaside Oregon - Note, our FFL holder associate will be there with Stag Arms lowers and several of my EAA witness pistols.
Show AAR. To call this show lame would be an understatement. We arrived late but did not seem to miss anything as vendors seemed to outnumber shoppers at any given time. That made the undercover guys from the ATF stand out a bit more than usual. Being busy trying to make sales, I ignored what the two "bikers" by my table were doing until another vendor had alerted me that they were ATF agents from the Portland office. They were apparently taking notes of some sort. Perhaps filling out their gun show reports early Saturday morning so they could get out and enjoy the sunshine and scenery in Seaside on that beautiful day. Perhaps their intentions were more sinister, as they seemed to park themselves near our display of Stag ARs and optics, but we could go crazy speculating on it but I am never happy with being the subject of someone's surveillance. Sales were dismal for most of the vendors but we managed to at least break even with the table fees and gas cost along with some trades with other regulars. I scored a shotgun shell reloader kit complete for $10 and a nice Chicom knockoff of the B-Square bipod for $25. One guy had a stainless Sig P220 sport model for $800 but apart from that there were no stand out bargains in the place. I would normally not even go back to this show except that it still made for a decent weekend out to the coast in the hours before and after the show since daylight lasted to nearly 10PM that far north. It takes some scouting around but there are some good camping spots in the areas about 15 miles south of Seaside. I tried a few Mexican food places in the area and found them to be geared up for serving bland rice packed flour tortillas to otherwise ignorant white people. Nice town, but something is amiss when the Mexicans there don't have refried beans figured out.
30-31 (tentative) Centralia Washington. I have a couple of huge orders from suppliers that I expect to be delivered by this time and we will have our biggest product line ever by this point.
looks like we skipped this one.
5-7 (Event) Sapper Stakes Lightfighter competition Camp Rilea Oregon - Event cancelled because several teams flaked out of attending and the event organizers did not get all the help they needed. Kudos to Capt Martin and SFC Kingery of 162 Engineers for trying to come up with a true sporting event for modern warriors, but the event is now indefinitely postponed.
6-7 Monroe Washington - I will hopefully have a business associate with most savvysurvivor.com merchandise at this show and able to make some local deliveries.
Our associate reported this show was fairly lame. Considering the travel time and costs associated with going to this one, it may have been a loss once we do the math on our final sales count. The weather was hot and people were not spending much time in the building. Of those few people who went to the show, they went in to buy specific items and then leave with very few "browsers" or tire kickers in attendance. AK ammo prices are up all over the place to $115 per case. There was also a show in Eugene on the same weekend that was particularly lame. I made it in later on Sunday to just walk around and maybe trade a few items. I ended up dumping a Mini-14 I had been sitting on for less than it was worth just to be able to stock up on some ammo which I was not getting a really impressive deal on. Lots of guys with tables were trying to sell guns fairly cheap but there were simply no buyers, even with one dealer selling brand new Romanian AKs for $300 each. They looked like the WASR-10s converted to take hicap mags, but that was still a pretty good deal and I would have bought one if I did not already have a few other AKs. One good thing that came from that show was a slightly damaged Surefire Handguard for an Mp5 for $10 that I was able to repair pretty easily. I also managed to find a nice glass and aluminum display case at a garage sale on the way to that show so it was not a totally wasted trip.
13-14 Puallup Fairgrounds - The new expo center will be open by then and this promises to be a huge gun show, arguably the biggest one west of the Rocky mountains. We expect to have the new display racks on this one and our largest display ever by combining with a guy who is local to that area. Things should be smoothed out with the credit card processing and our largest inventory ever at the largest gun show at least in the Northwest. They appear to be doing this show less frequently as WAC (the promoters) phase in more use of their Monroe location.
This one was a good show. The improvements at the fairgrounds are not done yet so the show was held in two different buildings at the same time with the Saturday only vendors set up in the drive in courtyard between the buildings. The courtyard area gave the show an atmosphere a unique ambiance. Everybody carrying weapons, but surrounded by police guards and tightly controlled gates. Kind of like a combination between arms bazaar and prison yard. It was hard to determine all of what was going on from our spot in back of one of the halls, but it looked like an active show. It has been hard for us to factor what people are buying. The Trochtman's were there without John who is having some legal trouble and soliciting donations along with running some more discounts on their books and videos. The oddest thing about the show is that AK mags started to run in short supply and this was catching all of us by surprise since we have taken cheap AK mags for granted over the years. Part of the popularity of AKs in that area is cost related, and the big ammo dealers report massive sales of 7.62X39 in spite of recent price hikes from $85 per case to $115 (yeah, it's staying that high now). Spare mags are however, about to flip flop with the AR15s in cost and availability but AK mags have come closer to running out before prices have gone up because people have taken the supply of them for granted and nobody expected them to actually start running out. AR related products from Olympic Arms (located a short drive away) were in abundance, but oddly not too many of their Safari Arms pistols or new Wolverine pistols, with zero of their bolt action guns on display. Tactical Tailor was also conspicuously absent from being represented at the show at all, and that was with us driving by their factory a few short miles from the show. The local market of military personnel from Ft Lewis starts to trickle in and cheerfully welcomes us to the area mainly because the local surplus stores are not carrying the items they want at reasonable prices and likewise none outside of Tactical Tailor seem to understand the market or the people who actually use the gear. We also notice a lack of marketing quality tactical optics in the area. Can't tell if it is because of poor wallets or poor tastes. We are the only people with PVS-14s and Eotechs for sale in the largest show in the entire pacific Northwest. Eotech sales come out tame while people are asking about Acogs and Aimpoints, but if course the "shoppers" get evasive when I ask how serious are they about wanting to buy one soon.
20-21 Hillsboro Oregon - This is usually a pretty small gun show and I may not be there in person but will have a business associate there (most likely our FFL rep).
As it turned out, I went to this one personally, and did not do well. Thank G_d I had the credit card machine working since nobody thought to get the ATM in the lobby stocked with cash and turned on. Most of the vendors ended this one in pretty hurting shape because of slow sales. Guns could be had at very low profit prices from the dealers who went in with a lot of impressive inventory selection and had to make various credit payments on their inventory. The actual firearms inventory from the retailers was impressive, including several variants of guns that just hit the market in the last year. The crowd seemed curious, with a large portion showing up in late model trucks and SUVs, carrying nothing into the building and carrying nothing out. Several of these people were asking questions about various vendors and their wares, but not making any purchases after spending an average of two hours in the building at a time. Private sellers walking the aisles did not have any good deals on handguns and those with ARs were still convinced they could get "preban" prices for guns built from low quality parts kits. The reality is that not much of the market is going to stomach a used AR that is over $650 that is a non-Colt even though new Colts are usually around $1000 and Bushmaster coming up just short of $900. Stag is starting to command some respect among those who know their product reputation from online forums like AR15.com and Warrifles.com along with the fact that most people building guns on Stag lowers are using quality parts kits from companies like DPMS, Bushmaster, CMT and YHM. Our sales of Stag Arms uppers are still pretty tame, with the vast majority of our buyers being in or recently out of the military.
27-28 Portland (Jackson Armory) Tentatively scheduled and usually another small show. We are looking for an alternate show to do that particular weekend.
3-4 Redmond Oregon - This is a last choice for us depending on what else will be happening that weekend but we might go to this one. We have not done it before but hear this is supposed to be a good show.
9 to 11 - The three day show at the Portland Expo. This is one that is always worth attending if you are in Oregon or Washington and I almost never miss it. The only bummer about the scheduling on this one is that it interferes with the tri-counties practical rifle shoot on Saturday.
17-18 Monroe Washington - This one is a killer commute but if it continues to be profitable, I will continue attending this one. It also gives the chance to meet some of the guys from the forums in person.
25-25 Two shows this weekend, one in Longview Washington and one in Albany Oregon. Albay has sometimes been a pathetic show but I will likely give it another chance.
1-2 There are two possible shows for us to do this weekend, Grant's Pass Oregon and Vancouver Washington. The Vancouver show has a reputation for being tame but profitable as it is still functionally in the Portland Metro area. Grant's Pass in southern Oregon near the California border has had a hit and miss reputation, with shows earlier in 2005 being pathetic.
8-9 Canby Oregon - Usually a pretty tame show but worth doing at least for the opportunity to meet with one of the ore important gun rights lobbyists in Oregon. We will try to convince Kevin Starrett of OFF (Oregon Firearms Federation) to show up for this one.
22-23 Eugene Oregon - A tame but active show. People knock Eugene for being a town that is too liberal for Oregon and there have occasionally been protesters outside the show pavillion. This show brings in an interesting crowd but is the only one where I had to keep a tight lookout on the theft problem.
29-30 Salem Oregon - Bad luck town for me, but an OK gun show held at the local fairgrounds. The fairgrounds has acceptable camp bathroom facilities and that makes this show fairly light on expenses.
5-6 Puallup Washington - Another show in the new building and promises to be a major event.
12-13 - The 7 feathers show in Canyonville south of Roseburg at the Indian casino. This is a return to the first show I drove to as a serious vendor when I first got the van. The tribal leaders say that we don't have to do "measure five" paperwork there which supposedly makes private party transactions easier than at the other Oregon shows.
18-20 Another Portland Expo for three days. This gets into one of the most active shows of the fall season and the most important venue of the northwest show circuit. There is also a show in Monroe Washington on this weekend that makes little sense since it competes with the Expo, but locals to Seattle will find it convenient to pick up a few items from whoever is not going to the Expo.
3-4 - North Bend at the little community center. I would normally not even attend this show except that it is an easy commute and I have to at least occasionally do something local. This is where I get to see both of the area's rival gun shops compete for what pathetic amount of local business there is. There is also a show in Monroe Washington this weekend that I will definitely not be attending, but I will try to have a local representative up there by then with a sampling of the merchandise.
10-11 Puyallup I plan on making it to this one if possible.