Three Questions for Al Flaherty’s Owner Domenic Saverino

Al Flaherty’s Outdoor Store, founded in Toronto during World War II, has grown to become one of Canada’s biggest firearms retailers. It’s also the last remaining gun shop in Canada’s largest city.

Pressure on the company and its peers continues to mount. The government is preparing new gun laws, a costly requirement to mark new firearms is set to become mandatory next year as part of a UN treaty, and the pending combination of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Inc. threatens to increase competition and squeeze profit margins at smaller stores.

The following are comments by Domenic Saverino, the owner of Al Flaherty’s. He made them by e-mail on Dec. 5 in response to questions from TheGunBlog.ca (Follow on Twitter: @TheGunBlog).

Q: How important is the annual SHOT Show (Shooting Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show), held in the U.S. in January? How about the so-called “SHOT Show North,” organized by the Canadian Sporting Arms & Ammunition Association (CSAAA)?

The SHOT Show and CSAAA are extremely important to us, as we attend the SHOT Show every year to obtain a sense of trends in our industry. We support and are members of the CSAAA.

Q: How will the UN firearm-marking rules affect your business?

The UN markings will make some guns unsellable and will impact our business in a negative manner. As you are aware, all guns have a unique serial number and there is no overlap when you factor the model and serial number — these are ‘unique markings.’ It will limit our ability to import firearms since we cannot afford to purchase the machinery to stamp firearms.

The new legislation was not thought out very well, as many firearms like the Glock or SIG P320 cannot be visibly marked on the receiver. Does this mean that we will not be able to sell certain firearms? Will law enforcement have to select a firearm that can be visibly marked?

In my opinion, it is essentially a waste of taxpayer dollars that will yield no positive results.

Q: What does the combination of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s mean for you?

Independent firearm retailers will be impacted negatively by the amalgamation of Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. They will control too much of the market in Canada and we will find it difficult to compete with them on many firearm brands.

They are able to buy direct from the manufacturer, whereas we are forced to buy from a distributor because we cannot buy the volume to purchase direct. Recently, Cabela’s has been selling a number of these brands at our cost.

The marriage of these two giants will force many firearm retailers out of business as a result of reduced profits — LeBaron is a recent casualty. One needs only to look at the decline of independent book and hardware stores in Canada as a result of powerful retailers such as Amazon, Chapters, Home Depot and Lowes. Once they own the market, the level of customer service goes down and prices for merchandise increase.

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