Gun show attracts browsers, few buyers

If it wasn't at the gun show this weekend, you probably don't need it to go hunting.

Eleven vendors and hundreds of hunters passed through the doors at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion to browse and buy all things hunting-related at the biannual show sponsored by the Bears Ears Sportsman Club.

"This brings in quite a few people, " organizer Jake Garcia said. "We have four more gun vendors than last time, and I think people really notice."

Money from the $2 entrance fee goes to pay for costs to rent the building, Garcia said. Club members needed to attract at least 300 people this weekend to cover rental costs on the building -- but that was the easy part. Gun show workers said they hit their visitor marks by Saturday afternoon. The hard part, some vendors said, was convincing browsers to buy.

Asked how business was doing, Mike Tomsic mouthed, "Slow."

A partner in Guns and Gadgets of Grand Junction, Tomsic said gun shows traditionally draw more browsers than shoppers.

"Most people have everything they need," he said. "We'll sell some of the guns here, but I haven't sold anything yet and we're already halfway through (Saturday)."

Jean Sexton of Douglas County Guns LLC was in the same predicament. Halfway through the day, the gun seller hadn't sold one firearm. It was enough of an inconvenience that Sexton said she had to reconsider coming back next year.

"If I have a weekend that's free, I'll come back," she said.

Indeed, Craig resident Marvin Cattoor may have echoed the sentiment of shoppers at the show.

"I just had to come by and look at guns," he said. "You can never have too many guns. But you can find any guy in Moffat County who'll come by and just look."

Tim Bertram was just looking, too.

"I'm just snooping," he said. "I came down last year, and they didn't have that much, but it seems like they have more this year."

Jewelry sellers Glenn and Audrey Pritchard of Buckskin Trails set up shop to try to pry a little business away from the gun and hunting equipment sellers.

Keeping in sync with the occasion, they displayed trinkets they thought might be attractive to hunters. On display were antler bone jewelry and earrings with small guns in holsters.

"We didn't know what to expect," Glenn Pritchard said. "Hunters like to pick up unique stuff just like anyone else. We thought we'd give this a try."

The couple said they have found it profitable to set up a booth outdoors in town during the hunting season, and they wanted to take that philosophy a step further by attending the show.

Again, the couple seemed to attract browsers, but they said business was slow.

Despite what seemed like a lack of commerce, Sheldon and Jane Howerton, who displayed a wide selection of ammunition, dubbed the Craig-based gun show, "the best little show in the country."

For a show that would draw 500 people at most, their sales were good this weekend.

The couple travels in five states selling their wares, sometimes hitting shows that attract up to 10,000 people.

"If it wasn't worth our time, we wouldn't come," Jane said. "Craig supports us. That's why we come back."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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