Be Careful with Trade Ins

Trade Ins. Guys, you really need to watch your trade-ins very closely. This is an area where a lot of shops can lose money for a few reasons, or you can do your customer a great disservice.


You can lose money if: You do not know just what you are taking in on trade. You can’t, don’t or wont appraise the condition properly. You can’t identify the gun properly. The Make and Model are one thing, but what about Edition? You have to be able to identify correctly, and appraise it correctly so you can make an accurate determination on value.
One time I was dealing with an older gentleman, who brought in a Winchester 94. A very old one, in a not so usual caliber. Looking up the serial number to help verify, and matched description, the book value placed it between 3,000 and 6,000 dollars depending on condition. The condition was very good for the vintage and I estimated the gun’s value at about $5,000.
What happened next, I find both comical and unfortunate. Even though I showed the old guy the book, showed him the value scale, and went over the condition, the old guy did not believe that he had a rifle of such value.
So he went to another shop. This other shop looked at it, and basically said that it’s just an old beater Model 94 and Winchester made so many, they really were not worth all that much. To make the old guy feel better, they offered to take it off his hands for more than they would usually give… 600 bucks.
This shop either didn’t know what they had, or they really did know and just stuck it to the old guy that didn’t. Considering that rifle went up on Gun Broker for the full book value a few weeks later, I think I know what happened.
Another example. Norinco made a very close clone of the Browning Auto-22 rifle. It looks just like the Browning… if you do not look really close at it. Browning made parts will even fit and function in it. Well, I witnessed a Norinco being traded in. At the Browning value, which was about 4 times the value of the Norinco. The Gun Clerk did not check the gun close enough to read “NORINCO” clearly stamped on the barrel. Nor did he pay attention to the different pattern of engraving. That gun was sold at a loss. You can actually see this a lot in Winchesters and imported guns, and old Colts. But this Browning/Norinco example just always stands out in my mind.
Another thing to watch out for is a Clerk who over values a trade in for a “buddy”. That’s an area for Loss that’s hard to catch.
You might only lose 50 to 100 bucks here or there, but it adds up. Mistakes happen, and can happen easily, but watch out for patterns, or mistakes that do not get corrected. Biggest clue, they are not using the Books or they are giving too much for a trade in gun of the same make and model that you have in stock BNIB.
Best way to deal with Trade In’s is to have only a few employees handle the trade ins. Either management or employees trained or experienced in appraisals.

7 thoughts on “Be Careful with Trade Ins”

  1. I bought a Mini-14 several years ago for $400 from a local store. Was told it had been bought by a guy, who then brought it back a few weeks later with a better scope on it than it originally went out with. Judging from how far off the scope mount was adjusted he probably couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it.

    The problem for the store was that while they originally paid a typical gun-store “buying your used gun” price from whomever they bought it from, they gave him over $500 for the gun the second time they bought it. And then, whoever priced it the second time remembered what they’d paid for it the first time, and marked it up accordingly. They lost over $100 on the sale to me. They still made a profit on the whole deal, but not nearly as much as they could have.

    Don’t know who handled the buying of the gun the second time, but it sure sounds like the original purchaser was somebody’s buddy.

    I found out the various prices involved years later.

    1. Giving a buddy a little extra on the value is a classic area of Loss for the store.
      Now – there are times when such is appropriate.
      Say, you have a really good-loyal customer who does a lot of business. Giving him a bit more as a Customer Appreciation perk, I think is not just fine, but should become a regular practice.
      You might not make as much on that one transaction, but look at all the transactions in the big picture. Make that Loyalty a Two Way Street.

  2. Hi
    as a customer I had an incident similar to the NOR-INCO Browning happen. The rifle (AR-15)was listed on-line as from a very famous maker. The rifle I learned recently was not what it was advertised as. Somebody took the Lower receiver with the makers logo and frankensteined it by adding nondescript parts unfortunately I discovered it when researching the rifle for resale recently nothing I can do about it now as i bought the rifle years ago.

    1. AR-15’s are going to become quite a problem as few are kept original and parts swapping is too easy to do.
      That and there are so many variants that descriptions and such are just not possible to keep track of.
      AR’s are very much a Buyer Beware sort of thing.
      Education is the key here. You got to get familiar with the brand and the types of configs they put out.

  3. Come to think of it, other than the source code mark does any manufacturer stamp or mark the AR uppers?
    Geoff
    Who went for the low price solution.

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