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Central Oregon gun stores struggle to meet demand amid shortages

Ammunition sales also skyrocket, Bend's Nosler explains

LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Demand for guns has been exceptionally high around the country since the pandemic began, and it's so strong that it's hurting some gun stores around Central Oregon.

Several told NewsChannel 21 that they are having a tough time keeping enough inventory to match the demand, which is actually leading to a drop in business.

Mike Shahan who owns La Pine Sporting Goods, said Tuesday it's been hard on his small business: "I still have a lot of people that think, 'Oh, my gosh -- you're in the gun industry, you must be doing really well!' Well, I did really well -- until everything that was on my shelves were gone."

Shahan, like many gun store operators, is now scrambling to find inventory.

"My suppliers that supply everybody in the United States -- they're all pulling from the same supplier, so they were the first ones to go out. Then I couldn't re-stock my shelves," he said. "Now what I have to do for shopping is wait for allocations to come to me, which are few and far between, or shop for retail and try to get it in the store. It's hard to do business that way."

The lack of inventory is so intense, Shahan said his customers, many who are recreational shooters, have stopped coming.

He said he's just trying to weather the storm, so to speak.

"It is threatening (the business)," Shahan said. "What I'm trying to do now is make it through this dry area until I can start getting things, because what I tell people is it's like being a car dealer -- you just don't have any cars to sell."

A representative for the Bend-based ammo company Nosler explained that they have been taking action to step up their manufacturing as well. In fact, a spokesperson told me they're breaking production records.

The Nosler representative explained, "The consumer base of ammunition sharply increased due to the approximately 8 million first time gun owners in the U.S. in 2020, according to national background checks. That's a uniquely high number of new gun owners in one year and not a measure of growth that ammunition manufacturers were prepared for."

"Couple those surging numbers with various manufacturers dealing with limited production because of COVID cases and precautions throughout the year, as well as one of the largest ammo manufacturers in the world was closed for business for much of last year to facilitate bankruptcy and a sale."

Article Topic Follows: Business
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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