Posted by Stephen Hoesel on Apr 09, 2018
Rotary was honored to have as our guest Gale McKinney of the Iowa Outdoors Store and Hardware Hank.  What Gale began his presentation with is that his company has been the publisher of several well known outdoor magazines (including Iowa Sportsman) for many years.  He is one of about 7-9 publishers in Fort Dodge.  From the publishing business it became natural for his business to expand to include one of the largest sales outlet of outdoor equipment in Northcentral Iowa.  Gale began with a very interesting overview of current gun purchase law as follows:
  • You need a permit to purchase and carry a handgun beginning with completion of a 4473 application and approval by the County Sheriff.  Once this step is complete and you have answered the 13 simple questions and a permit has been issued by the Sheriff Gale can sell you a handgun;
  • If you are over 18 one can purchase a Long Gun with no background check, including an AR15.  The AR stands for Army Lite, and is a semi-automatic as contrasted to the Tommy Gun and Browning Automatic Rifle, which are banned from private ownership.  The debate is whether the near automatic capability of the AR15 should also be banned. 
  • There are 1,200 licensed gun dealers in Iowa, but most sell from their cars.  Many use gun shows for their sales, which eliminates the payment of taxes.
  • There is no national data base of who owns a gun.  What exists is a county registry of gun permits issued, and a dealer inventory (most often hand written logs) of gun sales. 
  • Gun shows have a gun sale loophole as no 4473 forms are required.  Also, the registry is not kept.  This is the major loophole that Congress is working to potentially close, among others.
Within the last month the Iowa Outdoor Store was restructured by moving the archery range to a new building and in its place opening a Hardware Hank.  In making this decision Gale touted the need for small businesses (who provide 65% of all sales).  Small businesses return the greatest "bang for the dollar" to their local communities.  However, he provided the following cautions:
  • Before starting a new business carefully assess the location and need for the product(s) being sold.  In his case it would make no sense to place a hardware store on 5th Avenue South close to Menards.  As an example, West Fort Dodge has people who would choose a local sales option to driving across town for a small need. 
  • The option chosen of incorporating a Hardware Hank with the current outdoor business and also partnered informally with JRG and their products makes a northwest intersection collection of businesses that can survive provided they:
    • The businesses must be service oriented beginning with a clerk that can greet the customer and help direct them to the aisle containing their needs.  Also, the clerks must be knowledgeable of the most often cited needs and suggestions of products and how to install the items.
    • The business must provide repair services, beginning and ending with pick-up and delivery of larger items.
    • Provide hurried customers with the ability of a quick entry and quick out.
    • Help with special projects and unique products.