Wal-Mart To Stop Selling Guns At Some Stores

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has announced it will ax gun sales from 1,000 of its locations, and the Routes 5 and 20 store in Hopewell is one of them. Manager Kurt Spindler said Monday he was informed by company officials that firearms would be off the shelves by the end of July. Meanwhile, the Wal-Mart in Geneva, also on Routes 5 and 20, will continue selling guns, he said. The world’s largest retailer decided to remove firearms from about a third of its U.S. stores due to lack of demand. “As with all merchandise decisions that we make, our decision to remove guns from Wal-Mart locations is simply based on the lack of customer purchase history of firearms in a given community,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart. At the Wal-Mart in Newark, Wayne County, where guns will continue to be sold, manager Steve Szczepanski said Wal-Mart is removing guns from those stores that rate in the bottom one-third for gun sales. Sales at his Route 31 store run “hot and cold” during the year, depending on the season, said Szczepanski, estimating that, on average, his store sells five or six guns a week. Meanwhile, owners of local mom-and-pop gun shops said they don’t think Wal-Mart’s decision will affect their sales. Paul Martin, owner of Pro Gun Services LLC on Route 96 in Victor, said he sells more expensive, “high-end” guns, that aren’t available at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart guns appeal more to the “first-time user,” he said. “Seasoned hunters don’t shop at Wal-Mart.” At Shooters’ Supply Gun Shop on East Main Street in Bloomfield, owner Bruce Harter said he, too, offers brands not found at big box stores like Wal-Mart. He also said he offers services customers won’t find at most chains, such as on-site installation of accessories and repairs. Harter said Wal-Mart is reacting to a market that has take a nose-dive in recent years as fewer young people take up hunting. “No kids are coming up,” he said. “It’s a general, downward trend.” According to officials at Wal-Mart’s base in Bentonville, Ark., the retailer will replace firearms, at the selected locations, with other types of sporting goods and fitness equipment. Spindler said he doesn’t know specifics regarding those changes at the Hopewell site, which is tentatively set to open this fall as a Wal-Mart Supercenter in a new building between Lowe’s Home Improvement Center and the current Wal-Mart. When that opens, “we’ll have more of everything,” he said. By JULIE SHERWOOD / Messenger Post staff


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