Local gun and pawn shops are seeing an increase in customers over the last few weeks, but supplies are running low as fears rise surrounding the spread of coronavirus.
The demand for guns and ammo has been brisk in recent weeks, but retailers, warehouses and online inventories are running low, making orders increasingly difficult.
Claggett Talley owns Lock and Load of Florence and Talley’s Lock and Load in Savannah, Tennessee. He noticed the increase in demand about three weeks ago when his orders weren’t coming in as often.
After getting off the phone with one of his suppliers, Talley was informed gun and ammunition sales were at an-all time high, primarily because of a raw material shortage for 9 mm ammo.
Once other varieties followed suit, Talley acted quickly, buying as much product as he could.
“To say it’s busy would be an understatement,” Talley said Tuesday. “This time last week, the perimeter of the store was filled up.”
What Talley and other pawn and gun shop owners are seeing in the Shoals area mirrors what's happening across the country. ABC news reported the internet retailer ammo.com saw an increase in revenue of 309% in February.
At Lock and Load, Talley estimates his sales have quadrupled. If more supplies were coming in frequently, it would be higher.
“That’s the problem," he said. "Everybody is saying, well your business has been good. Well, if you can’t get more products, it's (only) going to do good for so long.”
Still, Talley expects the sales to continue to be steady. Ammo and guns are still coming in, although at a much slower pace.
For example, normally he would order 10 or 20 boxes of supplies, but now he’s only able to get two at a time.
“It’s crazy, we’ve never seen anything like this,” Talley said of the situation.
Like most similar business owners in the area, Talley has seen a mix of both first-time buyers and those who already own guns and are looking for either more ammo or other firearms.
Tuesday, Shereka Ford bought a gun for the first time at Lock and Load. Her brother suggested she purchase one after hearing that someone was trying to break into her house.
“I’m the only out of all my siblings that (doesn’t) have one,” Ford said of owning a gun. “My brother was like, “Oh no, you better get your gun.' I need one, I do.”
Leanna White is a co-owner at Patriots Armory LLC, a small, family owned gun shop in Muscle Shoals. On Friday, the store had two cases of 9 mm rounds that arrived at 11 a.m. By 1 p.m., all 40 boxes were gone.
“We keep very little things on our shelf, so when this hit, no one was prepared for it,” White said. “Maybe a larger store had a little bit more than smaller stores did, (but) none of us were prepared for this.”
When the store runs out of ammo, White says she gets online to order more. Other vendors are doing the same.
White spends a lot of time watching a computer located on the right side of the front counter, refreshing the screen frequently as she searches for available 9 mm rounds and basic handguns. Most are out of stock, and when she does find an item it's in short supply and the price has been marked up.
White estimates she’s had about 40 first-time buyers come in looking for a gun within the last week. Previous gun owners come in looking for ammo, and others bring in guns to get them cleaned and tested.