Long-time readers know that the Lexington Gun and Knife Show is one of my favorites. Of all the shows in North Carolina, it's one of the closest to home, and that gives it a leg up with me. I know the guy who puts it on, and he's really spruced it up. The junk dealers are gone, replaced by good folks with good items and pretty good prices. It relatively small, and if you go a lot, you get to know the regular vendors and the regular attendees.
At this weekend's show, I had the privilege of working a table for my club, which is always a treat. Besides getting in free, I get in early, before opening. It's amazing how much business goes on before the doors open to the public, as we all run around and get the items we need ourselves. You see, everyone who is a vendor is also a gun and/or knife person. These folks are in this because they love guns, the love knives, the love accessories, and they've found a way to make their living doing something they love. It's a hard way to live, but someone has to do it. :-)
As the day goes on, you can watch the people and see who came with guns to sell and were successful, who failed, who found something to buy and who's just out for a visit. You can also watch the other tables, and see the sales and the purchases. It's always fun to see someone with their own table for the first time, and see the look of pleasure and relief on their face when they have cleared enough money in the first couple of hours to pay for the weekend. You're happy for them, because it means another small business entrepreneur has made a successful launch.
One of my favorite vendors is a lady and her husband where I buy a lot of my reloading components. They started out small, fighting for recognition, trying to build a business to replace factory jobs that they knew were going to go away sometime soon. Now, they're one of the big vendors "up front", with a ton of tables and they've brought their son into the business. I'm envious of them, not for their success, but because they've done something I'd wish I'd had the sense to think of myself.
Today's show was great. Not as crowded as last time, it was still very well attended for a show held on a weekend where a cold rain is going to fall all day, both days. The buyers were smiling more, not quite in the "take no prisoners" mood of two months ago. They were still buying very purposefully though, and you wouldn't have know we're in the midst of the worst economy in decades if it hadn't been for the jokes made when one vendor of nifty wrought-iron blacksmith goods (How cool is it to have a gun show with it's own blacksmith?) would ring a supper triangle and someone would go "Hey, the markets are closed--how much did we lose today?"
I picked up 1000 rounds of PMC brass 5.56 ammo, 2000 shotgun primers and two nice holsters from Murph's Leather in China Grove. I had some good food (a pork shop sandwich and choclate cake) from one of the food vendors, talked to a ton of people about our club, hung out with my friends and in general had a blast.
I'm not sure of a better way to spend a Saturday, except at the range shooting.
(Edit, 3/15/2009 1134: SciFiJim asks this in comments: "And for the question that all reloaders are asking now. How was the availability of primers, especially small rifle. Gunbroker.com currently has a listing for 1000 Winchester small rifle primers. Current bid is $100.01"
While I hadn't considered it for inclusion in the original post, I think it's an important enough question that it needs to be pulled up here.
At the show there were 1000 small pistol primers, and those were a happy accident from a vendor who didn't even know he had them--they were mixed in with stuff he had taken in on consignment from an estate. (There's a whole different post--the guy was a Winchester collector, and you have seen some of those Model 70s.)
There were no small rifle primers, and around 10,000 each of large rifle and shotgun. 2000 magnum primers. There was plenty of powder in various sizes, but certain powders were not available in all sizes. Plenty of shotgun wads, hulls and rifle/pistol brass in various calibers. Remember, this show generally has only the single dedicated reloading vendor.
EBRs were there to be bought, and prices have subsided a bit. They're still ridiculous compared to a year ago, but better. There was ammo in most popular calibers, and those prices, in the overall view, have subsided somewhat as well.
My reloading lady commented that all the panic buying was going to ruin the industry. She's afraid that she may have to start canceling her attendance at shows, because people aren't buying reloading supplies without primers.
I kind-sorta agree with her. This incessant "Obama might do this" and "Obama might do that" that I'm seeing all over the Intertubz is not only wearing thin (Hey, let's stop obsessing about the possibility that he might go out gun grabbing and worry qbout the fact that he's trashing the economy, huh?), but is driving the panic buying. First it was EBRs, magazines and ammo. Now it's primers. I'm also seeing a shortage of reloading presses, for cryin' out loud.
Wait until we get a panic over food availability. Folks, that one is going to be a real hoot.)