In mid-December, one of my buddies at work mentioned he had ordered a new rifle. I asked what kind. “A Smith and Wesson AR,” he responded. Since I had been lusting over just that make and model of rifle only days earlier, I pressed him for more information. Where had he ordered it, and how much had it cost? He looked embarrassed. Finally he said, “I ordered it from Fred Meyer.”
For those of you unaware, Fred Meyer is a department store chain on the West coast. It started out in Portland, Oregon in the 1920s and has spread through Washington, Idaho and Alaska. These days it is owned by Kroger, but keeps its own brand.
The store in Snohomish, Washington recently remodeled, and expanded its Sporting Goods section. Part of this expansion was installing a gun counter and hiring a FFL holder to run it. Just after Christmas, I made my way over to check it out. At the time they had about ten handguns and revolvers in the lower case, and a mix of 3 or 4 hunting shotguns and 7 or 8 lever- and bolt-action rifles in the upper rack. They also had a modest collection of ammunition, at relatively decent prices.
And they were busy. While I waited to be helped at the counter the single clerk answered firearms questions from four different people and a few more got in line behind me. When my turn came I tried to keep my questions brief. Yes, they could order ARs. In fact, they could order a lot of things. They use Big Rock Sports as their supplier, and he gave me their catalog. Order anything, he said. They sell at the catalog list price or the marked price on the firearm when it arrives – whichever is lower. The catalog is thick… and very, very tempting. I hurried to find the model I had come for before I succumbed to the various beguiling offerings adorning each page.
I ordered a S&W MP-15T. List price is $1099. Filled out my 4473, pausing to help the salesman answer a man’s question about a Marlin lever gun in .45-70 Gov’t. (“Why is it called ‘Government?'” Easy answer for a history geek. Too bad the History Channel plays nothing but stupid reality shows about loggers and miners these days…) The salesman warned me there would be a long wait with all the orders flying around in these… interesting times.
I dropped by this weekend to check the status of my order, and as there was nobody else in line, spent some time asking more questions. The Snohomish store, unfortunately, has been cut off from special orders due to the huge number they’ve taken in the last month. The salesman showed me the sheaf of order paperwork in their file… it was over an inch and a half stack, all orders for this one store. The word spread quickly. Hopefully they’ll be able to do more in a few weeks. Their local stock had diminished greatly in the last month. Only five revolvers and two handguns, two shotguns and four rifles left. They still had that Marlin .45-70; I had to resist the temptation to give it a warm home. The best news: my rifle is coming, and according to their paperwork it isn’t back ordered. Hopefully, it will be here in a few more weeks.
I asked if there were other Fred Meyer stores that sell guns. The salesman told me there are 14 in Washington, including Snohomish and Monroe. There are others in Oregon and Idaho, and all of their Alaska stores sell guns. They don’t advertise that you can buy ARs there, and they only display “hunting style” firearms on the racks. But they sometimes have “scary guns” in the back, if you ask (They have no such guns in Snohomish, sadly). He let me peruse the catalog a bit more, after the warning that I couldn’t make any special orders. Their prices are quite reasonable. I’m sure I’ll be back.