If you want to know how scaling back can help you succeed, talk to Dan Smith. The now retired Air Force pilot used to stand a 24 hour watch as a fulltime reservist at March Air Force Base in Riverside, CA, ready to take off on a moment’s notice in his flying tanker jet. In his downtime he went to trade shows, and that’s where he saw his first rubberband gun. “It was at the Great Western Gun Show,” he recalls. “This guy was selling 12 shot rubberband guns, so I negotiated a discount price for a dozen of them. My squadron people loved them.” That was just the beginning for Smith, who started buying and then reselling the guns. “I brought 50 with me to Desert Storm in Iraq, and they quickly sold out,” he says. Fate stepped in when the U.S. government signed the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) treaty with Russia, and Smith’s unit was disbanded. Needing a way to provide for his family, he went into selling rubberband guns fulltime, and is now probably the largest supplier in the U.S. “Our biggest customers are the small guys, the mom and pop shops, kite stores, hobby shops, gift stores and tourist locations,” he says. “They tell me our product is usually their number one or number two best seller.”
Smith’s site, www.rubberbandguns.com, carries well over 100 styles and models. “Our biggest selling handgun is the .45 pistol, and our best selling rifle is the AK-47,” Smith notes. “Our target audience is boys ages four through 14, but lots of adults buy them, too. One said he uses it to shoot flies off the wall,” Smith says with a laugh.
Smith’s rubberband guns wholesale for between $3 and $20, but can retail from $6 up to $50. He also offers starter packages for new customers containing an assortment of product. “Our ‘Package A’ kit wholesales for $299 plus shipping, but averages about $720 on a retail return,” he says. And for those looking for a real conversation piece, he can custom build a Gatling Gun that will fire off 144 rubberbands in about six seconds. “It was featured on the ‘Letterman’ show a few years back,” he says. “Dave seemed to enjoy it.”
For more information:
Magnum Enterprises LLC
P.O. Box 3861
Rapid City, SD 57709