Ep. 59: Matt Mendel of WanstallsFrom working in the stock room to owning a firearms business, Matt Mendel of Wanstalls details what it takes to grow a thriving firearms business during adverse times. This is a unique opportunity to get the inside scoop, the good and the bad, of what it is like to work in Canada’s firearms industry. If you have ever wanted to create a side hustle, start your own business, or are specifically looking at working in the firearms industry, you are well served to listen to pro advice from someone who has been there and done that.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- Intro [00:00:00 – 00:01:07]
- Wanstalls history, Matt’s joining of Wanstalls and social media [00:01:07 – 00:04:54]
- Going from an employee to an owner and lessons learned at a young age [00:04:54 – 00:11:50]
- Gunsmithing, working at Canada Ammo [00:11:50 – 00:23:29]
- Biggest challenges, social media, videos [00:23:29 – 00:33:30]
- Different types of people buying firearms during COVID [00:33:30 – 00:37:03]
- firearm regulations, grey areas and protecting your business from legal issues [00:37:03 – 00:48:07]
- Advice for people getting into a firearms business & pivoting in the industry [00:48:07 – 01:00:05]
- Why do we eat our own in the firearms industry & the effects of the OIC and COVID on Wanstalls [01:00:05 – 01:09:05]
- Growing Wanstalls social media, advice for others & Canadian Gun Nutz [01:09:05 – 01:23:00]
- Finding people to work at Wanstalls [01:23:00 – 01:26:27]
- Outro [01:26:27 – 01:26:55]
Explore these Resources
In this episode, we mentioned the following resources which may be beneficial to you:
- Silvercore [00:00:10] [00:00:21] [00:00:24] [00:00:53] [00:01:00] [00:11:55] [01:02:52] [01:26:39]
- Silvercore Club [00:00:31]
- Wanstalls [00:00:54] [00:01:08] [00:01:35] [00:01:52] [00:02:02] [00:02:16] [00:02:18] [00:03:07] [00:04:28] [00:05:14] [00:20:38] [00:22:12] [00:22:44] [00:23:24] [00:23:41] [01:03:34] [01:09:35] [01:10:36]
- Canada Ammo [00:03:11] [00:03:17] [00:16:42] [00:16:56] [00:17:14] [00:18:01]
- Blue Line Solutions [00:09:40] [00:10:39] [00:11:04] [00:16:17]
- Joe Dlask – Dlask Arms [00:10:46] [00:10:50] [00:11:05] [00:11:37] [00:11:50] [00:12:02] [00:14:55] [00:15:46] [00:16:06] [00:16:07] [00:19:46] [00:19:49] [00:55:31] [00:56:08] [00:56:40]
- Canadian Gun Nutz (CGN) [00:16:21] [00:16:44] [01:15:50] [01:15:53] [01:16:02] [01:16:04] [01:17:04] [01:18:12] [01:22:30] [01:22:32]
- Norinco [00:17:39] [00:18:22]
- 762×39 [00:17:47]
- Soapbox Studios [00:30:05]
- WildTV [00:31:19] [00:32:21]
- Colion Noir [00:33:00]
- Mystery Ranch [00:52:43]
- Arc’Teryx [00:52:51]
- FRT (Firearms Reference Table) [00:54:08]
- Kodiak Defence [00:54:15] [00:57:08] [00:57:17] [00:58:11] [00:58:13]
- Spectre Ballistics [00:54:17]
- Maple Ridge Armoury [00:54:20] [00:54:37]
- Ultimatum Precision [00:54:22] [00:54:23]
- IBI (International Barrels) [00:54:24]
- PGW Defence Technologies [00:54:25]
[00:00:00] Travis Bader: I’m Travis Bader, and this is The Silvercore Podcast. Join me as I discuss matters related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor pursuits with the people in businesses that comprise the community. If you’re a new to Silvercore, be sure to check out our website, www.Silvercore.ca we can learn more about courses, services and products that we offer as well as how you can join The Silvercore Club, which includes 10 million in north America wide liability insurance to ensure you are properly covered during your outdoor adventures.
[00:00:44] So today I’m sitting down with Matt Mendel, who is a connoisseur of watches, knives, firearms. It just so happens to be the general manager and partner in Wanstalls, a premium firearms retailer in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. Matt, welcome to The Silvercore Podcast.
[00:01:01] Matt Mendel: Thank you for having me. What an intro.
[00:01:04] Travis Bader: Hey, I worked on that a little bit.
[00:01:06] Matt Mendel: There you go.
[00:01:07] Travis Bader: So Wanstalls, you know, I’ve been watching what you guys have been doing for a long time. You guys were involved everywhere. I see you involved with shooting matches. In fact, there was one justice last weekend, I think it was a precision rimfire match out in Merritt. Uh, you’re getting rave reviews all over the internet for customer service and for, you carry products that other people are carrying.
[00:01:31] How did this come to be? Because I haven’t always had Wanstalls on my radar. Um, but for the last number of years now, you guys just seem to be pushing further and further into the, uh, uh, top of the end of what people are talking about in firearms retailers.
[00:01:47] Matt Mendel: Oh, thank you for the very nice compliment there. Um, yeah, no, the a Wanstalls has been around, uh, in one form or another, uh, in Maple Ridge here since 1973. Um, it it’s been a gun store, outdoor store and the original owner, Tony Wanstalls. Uh, and his brother ran it, um, in 2000 and he’s going to get mad at me, but in 2006, I believe, uh, my partner, Craig Jones left his job and actually purchased Wanstalls.
[00:02:17] So Wanstalls was like a, kind of a sleepy town gun shop at that time. It was, you know, they had like a few rifles and stock and you’d go in for your hunting season and say, I need a box, a 30-06. And he would be like, no problem, I’ll order it and it’ll be here in two weeks, you know, one box of federal blue box or whatever it was.
[00:02:34] Um, and when Craig, my partner took it over and Craig is a hardcore gun guy. Like he loves firearms, all different types and he built the business into an actual true gun shop that stocked the coolest stuff that, you know, we could really get our hands on.
[00:02:51] Travis Bader: Totally. So, ’06. Uh, how old would have you been at that point?
[00:02:56] Matt Mendel: In 2006, I just graduated high school and I started my first job at a gun store somewhere else.
[00:03:05] Travis Bader: So when did you get involved with Wanstalls?
[00:03:08] Matt Mendel: Um, in 2013, I was working for Canada Ammo at the time. And, um, they ended up approaching me through, they knew me through Canada Ammo and, uh, offered me a job. So it was kinda more in the direction I wanted to be in where it was. Um, the product I was really excited to, um, be selling and bringing in was more so what they were doing. So over, I went.
[00:03:33] Travis Bader: So you just went from an employee to partner?
[00:03:39] Matt Mendel: I did, yeah. Yeah, I started at the bottom the worst, like the absolute bottom of the bottom. I uh, they originally brought me on to do, uh, get their social media going.
[00:03:51] Travis Bader: Ahh okay.
[00:03:52] Matt Mendel: Because, cause.
[00:03:53] Travis Bader: You’re young and your hip.
[00:03:54] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I was young and hip apparently. My, my now wife probably didn’t, taught me more than I knew. Um, but uh, yeah, they brought me on and I was kind of just like a floater to start. Like they were just like, yeah, post some stuff on social media. I had this, like, it was essentially like a, like a bar stool with another bar stool. And that was like my desk with my laptop on it. And I would be like over in the corner of the gunsmithing room, just like a little internet troll doing posts and stuff like that.
[00:04:25] Travis Bader: So did you find that that really helped propel Wanstalls to use the social media side?
[00:04:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah, social media, when we first started it, it was a slow burn getting it started. Um, but once it took off, um, it was like, it’s now probably one of the biggest parts of our business beyond anything as far as advertising.
[00:04:45] Travis Bader: Really?
[00:04:46] Matt Mendel: Yeah, and getting, uh, getting the product and getting everything out to customers is definitely our Instagram and Facebook, our two biggest.
[00:04:53] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:04:53] Matt Mendel: Assets.
[00:04:54] Travis Bader: See I’m wondering if, cause I get asked all the time, from people saying I love firearms, I want to make this my business. I looked over and I saw so-and-so doing a business and I think I could do it, but a little bit different. So I’m in my own new, niche market. And sitting down with you and looking at the success that you and Wanstalls had over the years. I’m wondering if this can be a little bit of a, how to, for people to.
[00:05:20] Or an insight into the firearms industry. Like how does somebody go from being an employee to being an owner? And I mean, looking at your watch share, I mean, it’s a, you’ve got a nice watch, clearly an aficionado here. Um, there, there is a path in place, how did you move your way through that?
[00:05:39] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Um, so I’ve been in retail in one way or another, since I was about 12, my parents owned a bookstore. Um, and slave labor goes along with your family owning any sort of business, I suppose. So I was always working there, stocking stuff out and helping customers and stuff. And then, um, when I graduated high school, I just, I knew that college wasn’t for me.
[00:06:03] Um, I just, I was done with people telling me what to do and how to do it. Um, so I went straight into the workforce. Um, my dad has been selling cars for over 40 years and he was like, nah, you can be successful like me son, come sell cars. And like now, you know, 13, 14 years later. And it was terrible advice. Uh, you know, I don’t know what father wants a son to go selling used cars on the lot, but, uh, anyways, that’s where I went.
[00:06:29] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:06:30] Matt Mendel: And it was all well and good for a little while, but you know, I slowly came to the realization there that, um, I didn’t know. I do love sales, but I don’t like pressuring people into sales and I want to sell somebody something they want, not something they need. Like, that’s like a, oh, my car broke down. I have to buy another car. Right. That’s not an awesome experience for anyone and, you know.
[00:06:52] Travis Bader: Totally.
[00:06:53] Matt Mendel: So I just knew that, that my time there was limited and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Um, but I knew that that was not it. Um, in the meantime I got my PAL while I was working there. I had been obsessed with guns since I was a little kid, um, cap guns, pellet gun, you know, all this stuff.
[00:07:10] Travis Bader: Sure.
[00:07:11] Matt Mendel: All of us loved.
[00:07:12] Travis Bader: Sure.
[00:07:12] Matt Mendel: Um.
[00:07:13] Travis Bader: It goes bang.
[00:07:14] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:07:14] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:07:15] Matt Mendel: And that was my real first kind of hobby I ever had. You know, it was, uh, at that point it was, think it was twenties. And, um, I was just like, oh my, like, I was just enthralled with everything about guns and it wasn’t just the fact they were guns and guns are cool. Like, you know, watching all the action movies growing up, it was the mechanical aspect of them.
[00:07:33] It was just something I picked up on that I could take any gun apart and put it back together. And it still worked, you know.
[00:07:41] Travis Bader: Not like the watches right?
[00:07:42] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Or like an iPhone or like anything. Right. Like it was just one of those things that clicked for me. And I just became absolutely obsessed with firearms and owning as many as I could get and trying them all out and everything from Milsurp’s to modern, um, stuff, hunting rifles, 22’s, like anything I could get my hands on.
[00:08:01] Um, so I ended up actually leaving, um, the car sell thing and. Um, I was just going to chillin’ at home, my dad’s basement, like, yeah, this is awesome, this is the life. And then my girlfriend now wife, Brittany, she’s like, you gotta probably get something going here. And then I was like, well, I can’t, you know, typical young guy, you know, I’m not going to work for the man. You know, I’m not, I had to follow my dream. Right.
[00:08:29] But the reality of the fact is, um, you’re not going to be top dog out of the box. Um, I started trying to open my own business, um, doing outdoors and knife stuff like, you know, packs and gear and stuff like that. And I slowly came to the realization that like I had a lot to learn and that’s very humbling in your twenties, right. Like.
[00:08:50] Travis Bader: Totally.
[00:08:50] Matt Mendel: That’s.
[00:08:51] Travis Bader: Well, how old were you when you started that?
[00:08:53] Matt Mendel: I was, I was right around 20 years old.
[00:08:56] Travis Bader: So young.
[00:08:57] Matt Mendel: Super young.
[00:08:57] Travis Bader: Yeah. So at a point where it’s okay for you to fail and group and try again and.
[00:09:03] Matt Mendel: Yeah, so I, the business, I just quickly realized that if you don’t know the right people and you don’t have connections, and I’m not saying like connections, as far as like, um, other people in the industry, I’m talking about connections as in like people who don’t want to rip you off when you want to build a website or anything like that, right.
[00:09:23] That quickly became, um, apparent that I had a lot to learn about proper business dealings and that was that. So I went and got a part-time job at, um, the local gun store out in Port Coquitlam there at the time it was Blue Line Solutions. Um, and yeah, it just started there. And I was like, now I’m working the gun industry.
[00:09:47] And the whole, the reality, the fact is the only reason why I even got a job there. I was like, I want a discount on guns cause I’m buying so many, right? Like, I’m like, I don’t even care if I get a paycheck really, I just.
[00:09:56] Travis Bader: Got the discount.
[00:09:57] Matt Mendel: Yeah, I wanted a discount. So, um, so yeah, I started there and, um, that was a really interesting learning experience because I had worked retail. So, you know, basic stuff like working with tills and, you know, shop maintenance and stuff like that. That’s easy. It was more so the government aspect of it and the firearms aspect and being safe as far as who you’re handling, handing guns to and all that kind of stuff. And so we started there and yeah, that was, I worked there part-time for a bit.
[00:10:28] Learned learned a lot, um, both business-wise and firearms wise, um, and then decided to part ways with, um, Blue Line.
[00:10:39] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:10:40] Matt Mendel: Um, did learn there, i, um, there was two kind of partners in that business. One was, uh, Joe Dlask and I specifically remember I was working with Joe one day and I w I always pick up on things with people that I, like. I always remember like very key moments with people who make a difference. And I remember the one thing I really picked up and took away from Blue Line. I was working with Joe one day and he was just working like a madman, um, to get product out from a distributor.
[00:11:11] And he’s like in his whole, his whole reasoning was, it’s about getting the product out to the customer, like, cause it’s cool and people have been waiting for this stuff. And um, that really struck me as like, yeah, customer is number one, we’re all in this because we love firearms. So it’s always, you know, you always have to keep in mind that yes, it is a business, but at the end of the day, you, you you’re doing this because you love it.
[00:11:35] So I always remember that with Joe, that his, um, work ethic really inspired me to be like, yeah, customer first customer, number one, worry about everything. Make sure that after the fact make sure the customer is serviced in a very happy so.
[00:11:50] Travis Bader: You know, I’ve got a Joe story if you want to hear it.
[00:11:52] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure, man.
[00:11:52] Travis Bader: So when back before Silvercore Training happened, I had Silvercore Gunworks and it was my thought that I would be doing gunsmithing for every Joe blow who comes through and, and that.
[00:12:05] Matt Mendel: The ultimate dream.
[00:12:07] Travis Bader: The ultimate dream, right. Every kid wants to grow up to be a gunsmith. And I was loving it. I was learning a lot because every person who came in and came with a different firearm in a different, uh, different issue or different problem and being young, I think it was 18, 19. Like when I started that I everyone’s expecting a discount or a deal and everybody wants to pay. Yeah. And they, they all want to pay you in like freezer bird meat from five-year-old.
[00:12:36] Matt Mendel: Here’s a six pack of beer and, you know.
[00:12:38] Travis Bader: Totally.
[00:12:38] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:12:39] Travis Bader: So anyways, so. It was fun learning a lot. And one of the things I got into was a refinishing and I was doing bluing and parkerizing and, uh, manganese and zinc, FOS fading. And I was having an issue getting some chemicals across the border. So I thought, well, how hard can this be? And I went to a, to a lab and I got a qualitative and quantitative analysis of, of a, uh, of a batch of chemicals. And I tried to reverse engineer it myself. And there is a fellow who brought in a firearm that he wanted to have parkerized.
[00:13:13] And so I prepped the metal, got everything as it ought to be. And I made up my own solution based off of the essential, reverse engineered list here. And I, and I use it a test piece first and it came out looking pretty good. Right. And in, in this solution, a little bit of nickel helped the adhesion of the manganese to the metal.
[00:13:36] And, and there is a, I think it was Florick acid that was also in here as well. Anyways, on the carbon content, on the test piece, it came out looking pretty good. On the firearm I put in, the customer’s firearm, uh, it was just the barrel that he wanted done. So I put the barrel and it comes out and I’m looking at, I’m like, I’m not happy with how this looks.
[00:13:58] Right. And so I, I dip it in a little bit longer, longer than I normally would, and they take it out and I was like, ah, it’s not the right color. It’s not what the guy’ll want and try it a little bit longer. And I take it on and said, well, you know what, I’m going to regroup. I’m going to have to tell the client here that we’re going to have to wait for this chemicals to come in.
[00:14:15] And I took the barrel and I went to thread it into the receiver and the thing slid in and out of the receiver. The chemical composition that I put together was strong enough to have eaten the metal to such a point. Like, you look at it and it looked fine, but you didn’t realize that everything had shrunk so much. And like that was, as a person working on firearms, I think anyone who says they don’t make mistakes is lying to you.
[00:14:45] Matt Mendel: Literally impossible.
[00:14:47] Travis Bader: But the people who are really good know how to fix their mistakes. Right. And that was the first mistake I wasn’t able to fix. And so I went to Joe, cause I said, look it, I had this issue, I’m going to have to, do you have any spare barrels around, I’m going to have a go at it again. And he looked around, he says, yeah, actually I got this quality barrel. It’s a spare. You can have it take it. It’s yours. Right. In fact, it’s not chambered in the right caliber, but here’s a chamber reamer.
[00:15:15] I’ll lend it to you. Bring it back without any dings or nicks, not a problem, no charge. Right. So I was able to get the customer up and running, uh, if I don’t know if he even listens to this podcast, but I think his son might because his son actually does work with us, but that would be, uh, that’d be Randy Bach’s firearm there. Sorry about that, Randy. But we got you going in the end,uh.
[00:15:36] Matt Mendel: Got a new barrel out of the deal.
[00:15:37] Travis Bader: And he got a new barrel on it. Nice quality barrel out of it, chambered tight. Beautiful. Right. But that always stuck with me because Joe, at that time I was doing more and more work and he was still in the business of doing work for the general public, albeit also manufacturing and to a degree, I could have been viewed as competition.
[00:15:59] Matt Mendel: For sure.
[00:16:00] Travis Bader: But instead he says, not a problem, Travis, come on in, let me help you out. So that always stuck with me about Joe so I.
[00:16:07] Matt Mendel: Joe’s salt of the earth, man. I love that guy.
[00:16:08] Travis Bader: He is. Yeah. Sorry to interrupt you there. So, so where did that take you next?
[00:16:14] Matt Mendel: Yeah. So after that, um, left Blue Line there and, um, I was on Canadian Gun Nutz. I had taken a job as a, um, a concierge apartment buildings downtown, and like, no one wants that job, man. it’s the worst work job ever, just a bunch of whiny, rich people just complaining about everything. Anyways, so I needed to get out of there.
[00:16:36] Um, it was a good fill in job while, you know, I had to pay my bills. Um, and then, um, Canada Ammo posted, um, on Canadian Gun Nutz that they were looking for someone. And then I was like, yeah, man. I was like, I got to work in the gun industry, this jobs working midnights sucks.
[00:16:53] So, went, I submitted my resume to Canada Ammo. Uh, got a job there is, um, I started there as just a shipper, like just no, no responsibility other than stuff in box out the door.
[00:17:10] Travis Bader: Sure.
[00:17:10] Matt Mendel: Um, and, uh, it was a pretty intense out of the box because Canada Ammo, um, At the time and still to this day, they have, they’re very skew heavy on stuff. So, you know, you have a guy who’s ordering 10 different types of NC star stuff, and they’re all in tiny boxes.
[00:17:26] And, you know, it looks like the matrix scene where their walls are flying down. Right. Um, so yeah, that was awesome. And then what was really cool about, uh, Can-Am was obviously like at the time they were bringing in, um, a lot of Norinco product.
[00:17:40] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:17:40] Matt Mendel: So you walk into the back and there’d be a two story thing tall of, uh M305 or, you know, 762 x 39. And, and, um, so yeah, that was, um, I would call that my real first, um, gun business job, where I was like, okay, I’m amongst true gun people. Uh, Chris at Canada Ammo is.
[00:18:03] Travis Bader: He’s awesome.
[00:18:04] Matt Mendel: He’s awesome. And he’s like a true gun guy. Like he’s, he’s actually probably more of a gun guy than anyone I’ve ever met. That dude goes down rabbit holes I didn’t even know existed with guns.
[00:18:13] Travis Bader: Oh, I still call them up from time to time to pick his brain and he’s a sharp cookie.
[00:18:17] Matt Mendel: Yeah, he’s awesome. Um, and, um, yeah, so, and at that time it was lots of Norinco and I just remember, um, at, at some point they said, Hey, you know, we mind like taking care of the warehouse as well. You know, just making sure it’s clean and stuff. So then there, I was essentially in like the Indiana Jones w you know.
[00:18:36] Travis Bader: Looking for the.
[00:18:37] Matt Mendel: Guns and yeah, exactly. Like it was awesome. And then, you know, one day, like, you know, a 53 foot container just cram jam packed full of guns would show up, but, you know, it’d be. You know, all , M305’s you’d have to hand bomb the whole thing.
[00:18:51] And then like, you know, for example, replace that with anything else, like, uh, oranges or cardboard boxes, worst job on earth.
[00:18:59] Travis Bader: Yeah. A lot of work.
[00:19:00] Matt Mendel: M305’s, awesome job, like.
[00:19:04] Travis Bader: Oh just the smell.
[00:19:06] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. And like, knowing that, like this just came directly from the place that made it to you and it’s just cool stuff, man. It’s rad. Um, so yeah. Um, so I worked there for a good while. Um, and then I kinda got up to, we did, uh, I took over dealer sales for them as well.
[00:19:24] So I was doing all their, uh, dealer sales for awhile. Um, and a gentleman there named Paul really took me under his wing, um, and really explained to me the finer points of, um, not just business and like organization and all that kind of stuff, but also how to deal with people on a good level.
[00:19:43] Like again, reinforcing that thing that Joe, you know, that I picked up off Joe, which is like customer, customer, customer, like, these are all your, your cohorts, you’re all gun nuts. You’re all, you know, having a good time. Right. Um, so yeah, and I learned a ton there, um, both mechanically with firearms, cause I would be working on, you know, some warranty stuff or whatever.
[00:20:07] The shipping aspect of it, you know, shipping routes and who to call and all that kind of stuff. Uh, organization, cause boy howdy. Did that, you know, you had to have that place organized or you would know where nothing was.
[00:20:19] Travis Bader: Yeah. They got a lot of volume.
[00:20:21] Matt Mendel: It’s unbelievable. Um, and then, yeah, so I just learned, that’s where I really got cut my teeth as far as the gun industry. Um, but uh, yeah, and at that point we were just sitting there one day and um, Uh, Wanstalls had post an ad and said, Hey, like, you know, we need somebody to come in and fill in.
[00:20:43] And just for shits and giggles, cause that was, uh, a long time customer wants to halls. Um, I just said, Hey, you know, at the time I was like, Hey, it’s Matt, blah, blah, blah. You know, jokingly said, yeah, how much does it pay? And they said, uh, they responded back with, come meet us tonight.
[00:20:59] Travis Bader: Really?
[00:20:59] Matt Mendel: Yeah. At the Billy miner pub, which is our, that is our bunker of solitude there. Um, so yeah, it was like, uh, okay. So it wasn’t really like, I wasn’t even looking for a job. I was just curious. Um, and so I met them there and I immediately knew that I was like, yeah, these, these are my guys, you know. Craig’s specifically, um, immediately treated me like family and he had, he knew me from buying there, but like, um, yeah.
[00:21:33] Just like it was the right vibe for me to, I was like, yeah, these guys are cool. And so anyways, we had some beers, they made me an offer and I was just like, oh my God. I was like, I can’t, I just got my first apartment with my wife, uh, everything and I was just like, I just started paying my bills properly.
[00:21:49] Like I can’t, I can’t like bounce off another job, you know what I mean? Cause it’s once you’re once you somewhere and you feel secure, then you kinda.
[00:21:58] Travis Bader: That’s a trap though isn’t.
[00:21:59] Matt Mendel: It is a trap. Right. And then, you know, I was still young enough at the time where I was like, you know, like, let’s go, let’s do this. Right. So I went home that night and granted after a couple of beer and um, I told my wife, I was like, yeah, Wanstalls made me this like rad offer and I think I’m going to take it. And she’s like, no, you’re not taking it. She’s like, we just got this apartment. She’s like, we’re sitting on lawn chairs. Like, you know what I mean? And then I was like.
[00:22:22] Travis Bader: I totally know what you mean.
[00:22:22] Matt Mendel: Oh, you mean, um, and then I was like, oh, okay. Then she kind of talked me out of it that night. And then I’m on the drive to work the next day. I was just like, man, I was just like, it wasn’t just the offer. It was, um, it was the people there. Um, the vibe I got off of everyone I was talking to, and honestly the products that Wanstalls was selling at the time lined up with more of my interests, um, you know, to be a hundred percent honest about it.
[00:22:51] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:22:52] Matt Mendel: So I just thought about, I was like, man, it’d be really cool to get other stuff discounted that I’m more into, you know what I mean? Like, you know, I have a wider selection, not as deep. Like I do, like I didn’t need 1500 M305’s right.
[00:23:05] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:23:06] Matt Mendel: There’s so many greasy, M305’s you can handle before you go home and you’re soaked in cosmoline every. um, so yeah, I just, on my way there, I just, uh, decided to essentially that I was good to go. Um, and then had a quick conversation and yeah, I started the next week, um, at Wanstalls in my little, little hovel of a corner.
[00:23:29] Travis Bader: So zero business training, a set aside from the school of hard knocks.
[00:23:33] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:23:33] Travis Bader: So learning as you go.
[00:23:35] Matt Mendel: Yep.
[00:23:36] Travis Bader: Uh, what were some of the biggest challenges that you’d found at least to that point anyways, because when you start at a Wanstalls, you’re basically strictly doing social media or when did you start as a partner?
[00:23:46] Matt Mendel: No, no, I definitely didn’t start as a partner. It took me almost 10 years become a partner there.
[00:23:50] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:23:51] Matt Mendel: Um, yeah, no, I mean, the biggest thing is ego, when you’re that age. I mean, even now, I mean, I’m only 33. Like you always got to check your ego at the door because, um, all that’s ever going to do is make it make it take longer to figure out the answer to whatever you’re trying to, you know, achieve whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
[00:24:13] Um, so that was a big one. Uh, and two just learning how to deal with different people and different personality types. I’m a very, anyone who knows me, you know, anyone who’s met me I’m so blunt and honest and probably to my own, probably not what I shouldn’t be. I still am. I’m very upfront and honest and I’ve got, uh, I don’t have a very good filter. Um, but.
[00:24:35] Travis Bader: That could, that can play to your benefit too, though.
[00:24:37] Matt Mendel: It can, and it does. Right. Um, but I feel like only in certain positions it does, um, maybe as a manager, as an owner, I feel like, yeah, that’s how you get information across as curt and short and simple. Um, but also a lot of people don’t respond well.
[00:24:52] Yeah. Like everyone responds to different types of things, right? Like somebody can take that as you being upset with them or something like that. So it’s always just a that’s something I struggle with to this day is understanding different personality types. And I do, I read as many books as I can, and to try and be as understanding as I can, but the dickhead in me just.
[00:25:13] Travis Bader: Well, I don’t even know if it’s dickhead, it’s, at least when a person is blunt and curt, you know, where you stand with them.
[00:25:19] Matt Mendel: Exactly. And there’s no mincing of words. Right.
[00:25:22] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:25:23] Matt Mendel: If I say do A there’s no, there’s no, you’re confusing it with B.
[00:25:27] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:25:28] Matt Mendel: Right. And that’s how I kind of look at it. Um, so yeah. And, um, also to the industry is an interesting industry and, um, the industry is a very, when I started in the industry, it was just going away from like Ma and Pa shops. And it was becoming like lots of social media, lots of websites. I mean, I don’t know if you remember, for online ordering back in the day, you could just get it from sr.
[00:25:58] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:25:59] Matt Mendel: You know, the old wholesale sports guys and Alberta, that was your only.
[00:26:02] Travis Bader: That was it.
[00:26:03] Matt Mendel: Way you could really online order anything. Right?
[00:26:05] Travis Bader: Well, nobody was online ordering, everyone was very reluctant to take that next step.
[00:26:09] Matt Mendel: Yeah. And there was a lot of unanswered questions about it, like kind of ship product, legally, all that kind of stuff. Right. And, you know, for a Ma and Pa shop, which was essentially everyone at the time, you don’t want to take on that responsibility. Right. And, you know, everyone just did their niche thing and you made their living retired somewhere in the middle of nowhere and that was it.
[00:26:28] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:26:29] Matt Mendel: Um, so essentially. The introduction of online.
[00:26:34] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:26:35] Matt Mendel: Like that was a huge learning curve because now you’ve got all these shops and a lot of young people and different ideas all coming together.
[00:26:44] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:26:44] Matt Mendel: And it was like a whole new world, right. Essentially, like you’ve got kind of the new way of doing business. So like people who would historically have different types of businesses are now running gun shops and bringing that, you know, the internet, I know this sounds ridiculous.
[00:27:00] The internet with them and Facebook and all that kind of stuff. And you know, at that time it was like a interesting new world of how to deal with stuff so it was.
[00:27:12] Travis Bader: You guys really pushed the envelope. I think you guys are, if not the leader, one of the leaders for sure. And moving things into the 21st century.
[00:27:23] Matt Mendel: Well, yeah, I mean the biggest thing, um, every single one of our followers and all of our social media platforms is a hundred percent, like those people clicked on our page. We didn’t pay, a lot of companies, uh, both in the industry and in general, you just buy followers right. And then you log on.
[00:27:40] Travis Bader: It’s never made sense to me.
[00:27:41] Matt Mendel: And it has it because you look on, it’s like, oh wow. This page has gotten like 20,000 followers and you clicked, you know, one of their posts and it’s got.
[00:27:46] Travis Bader: Zero.
[00:27:47] Matt Mendel: Zero.
[00:27:47] Travis Bader: Engagement.
[00:27:47] Matt Mendel: It’s gotten two likes, you know, like a, in a poop emoji under it or something. And you’re like, I don’t get it. Right. But then you realize, oh, they actually have like 150 followers and they purchased it. And the problem, and this is something I learned from Paul. The problem when you do that is it’s hard to crawl back from it. Like once you realize it’s a mistake, it’s really hard to undo that mistake.
[00:28:12] So yeah, we have just shy of 10,000 legitimate followers on Facebook. Um, Instagram is an interesting one. I think we’re around 3000 on their, uh, Instagram’s algorithms for gun owners isn’t.
[00:28:24] Travis Bader: It’s the wrong platform for sure.
[00:28:26] Matt Mendel: Yeah. It’s a, it’s it can be tough from time to time, but, uh, we get a lot of what I do like about is we get a lot of real, a lot of feedback from directly from our customers, not through some weird platform, like I straight up get messages from people asking me questions and they get direct answers, as often as possible. I mean, it’s, it’s tough to filter through hundreds of messages a day, but, uh.
[00:28:46] Travis Bader: Is that what you’re getting?
[00:28:47] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Like, you know, on, we get quite a few like enough to where. Um, my wife answers a lot of stuff, you know, she’s she wants to get paid, but she’s never getting paid.
[00:29:00] Travis Bader: Is that your wife in the commercials?
[00:29:01] Matt Mendel: Yeah. That’s my wife, she, God bless her. She comes out and yeah. I don’t know how she puts up with me, but yeah, that’s her in the commercials and like that gift card one we did and stuff. Yeah. That’s her doing it.
[00:29:13] Travis Bader: Those commercials are awesome.
[00:29:14] Matt Mendel: Thanks man. Yeah, those are lots of fun. And like that’s a prime example is, you know, I, when we went into the tV aspect of things. I was like, I can’t stand like the typical gun owner commercial or gun shop commercial, where it’s like a dude standing behind his counter.
[00:29:32] And it’s like, you know, ra-ta-ta I’m, you know, and then like a blast Calgary, Alberta, or whatever part of the world he lives and across the street is like, there’s only so much of that you can, you know, we all have guns in our store, right.
[00:29:45] Like we all go to the same distributors for everything. So like, what’s the point of telling people you sell, you know, guns, right. And why don’t you have some fun with it and make people realize that like, yeah, it is fun.
[00:29:57] Travis Bader: Are you scripting those yourself?
[00:29:59] Matt Mendel: Yeah, I do. Uh, I do a lot of the creative and then, uh, my friend Brent Nelson at Soapbox Studios helps me out with the filming.
[00:30:08] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:30:09] Matt Mendel: Um, and he’s awesome. Cause like I have a hard time when it comes to like the M I know what the image in my head of when I want something to look like, but I can’t for the life of me, explain it. And he just gets me, he like instantly knows what I’m trying to explain. And I’ve tried to do it with other people and it just doesn’t work. It’s just, you know.
[00:30:30] Travis Bader: So if people want to see them, I saw those commercials on Facebook I think it was.
[00:30:34] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:30:35] Travis Bader: Is that, do you have them compiled somewhere?
[00:30:36] Matt Mendel: Yeah. If.
[00:30:37] Travis Bader: If people want to go through them?
[00:30:38] Matt Mendel: Yeah, we have them on our YouTube page. We had a YouTube page years ago. I tried to start a YouTube account for the store and it just turned into like this super cringy, like, uh, you know, I realized at that time, how much goes into editing and you know, all that kind of stuff. And I thought like, oh, you just throw a camera up and, you know, had some whizzbang do it.
[00:30:56] And there you go. But it’s a lot of work even in here in the podcast studio. I’m just like, all these buttons and stuff, no idea how this works. Um, it was a learning curve for sure. So like our, I kind of deleted everything off our old YouTube page. Um, and then we just essentially put all of our commercials on our YouTube page.
[00:31:14] Travis Bader: Okay.
[00:31:15] Matt Mendel: Um, Facebook, uh, we throw them on Instagram as well. And obviously, yeah, they’re on WildTV.
[00:31:20] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:31:20] Matt Mendel: That’s our main, main place where those go. Um, but yeah.
[00:31:25] Travis Bader: Are you seeing, how are you measuring the engagement off of those?
[00:31:28] Matt Mendel: Um, honestly it, so this is a classic thing when it comes to advertising and old-school guys, um, always say like, oh, you invest a thousand dollars. You need to get $3,000 out of it. And that means here, and it’s like, you can’t, in today’s world, it’s impossible to quantify that, right?
[00:31:49] Like, cause like what are they going to come in with a w a prize over cracker jack box? And then, you know that like, come on, like, you know, you can’t do that. What you do is essentially, um, you’d listen to people when you’re talking to them and they say, man, I saw your commercials that really awesome, or whatever, like love what you guys are doing. And that’s how you gauge your feedback off of it. Right.
[00:32:10] And our commercials, they do great for us. And, you know, honestly, um, It’s an, I like being creative and it’s a creative outlet for me. And, uh, I’m just curious to when WildTV is just going to say, Hey man, we can’t air this one. That’s too many fart jokes or something like that so.
[00:32:27] Travis Bader: Think of your commercials is that people want to share them.
[00:32:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:32:30] Travis Bader: They want to show them to other people because they’re genuinely hilarious.
[00:32:33] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Yeah. The favorite one I did is actually not even a commercial is the, uh, liberal gun owner one. I don’t know if you saw that.
[00:32:39] Travis Bader: No, I don’t think I’ve seen that one.
[00:32:41] Matt Mendel: All right. Well, I won’t spoil it for you, but there’s two flame throwers in it and, uh, we didn’t even put, we just did that for a fun one for social media. Um, and like, that was just an example, like we gotta do this video, man cause it’s, it’s going to be hilarious. So yeah, that, one’s a, that one’s one of my favorites for sure.
[00:32:59] Travis Bader: You know, uh, Colion Noir.
[00:33:01] Matt Mendel: Yep.
[00:33:01] Travis Bader: Okay. So he’s got the seven types of people that you see at a gun range.
[00:33:04] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:33:05] Travis Bader: Hilarious does a wicked job with that.
[00:33:07] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:33:07] Travis Bader: You guys going to do something like that?
[00:33:09] Matt Mendel: Yeah. We could for sure.
[00:33:10] Travis Bader: Seven types of people you see coming into your gun store.
[00:33:12] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Yeah. That’d be, that’d be a fun one actually. Yeah, that’d be, that’d be cool. Um, maybe not in voting season, but maybe cause it’s all, it’s all anti-Trudeau stuff right now, but maybe we’ll wait until after and we can have a different kind of crowd of people coming back in.
[00:33:27] Travis Bader: Give it a few weeks.
[00:33:28] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Fingers crossed.
[00:33:30] Travis Bader: Have you found that the crowd of people that you have coming in has substantially changed since, well, I don’t know. Um, but a year and a half ago?
[00:33:38] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. It’s uh, it’s been crazy as far as that goes, like the S the. Yeah. I’ve had like everything, like, so when the pandemic, whatever the COVID first started there, I can’t believe the types of people I had coming in.
[00:33:56] And I mean that as in like people I’ve never expected to see in a gun store, I had a mommy walking group come in with their babies and strollers. And they were like, I have my PAL, I’ve never used it before, but you know, blah, blah, blah. Here we go. And I’m like, what is happening right now is there’s this like something happening I’m not aware of, but yeah, it’s been crazy.
[00:34:14] Like, um, the types of people we’ve been having coming in and the like from different backgrounds and everything. It’s awesome. You know, seeing people want to get educated about firearms and actually taking an active interest in them and right. And then, you know, once you become a firearms owner, because it’s so tied to politics, right.
[00:34:31] You really start to paying attention to what’s going on out there because it’s just, it’s part of your life. It affects you directly, right? Like, um, policies and stuff like that. So it’s, it’s not just about owning guns. I feel like having your gun license, uh, really opens up your, your thought processes to, you know, other stuff that’s going on in the world.
[00:34:49] Travis Bader: You know, when COVID hit my mother-in-law, who is the last person who should ever have a firearm says, Trav, I’m really thinking I should get myself a firearm. Can you tell me what I got to do here? And I saw, that was probably the aha moment for me, when I really saw the shift in people because that’s one person who’s always had a very negative view of firearms, to all of a sudden thinking, I’m scared and things are changing.
[00:35:16] And maybe I should be a little more proactive about my personal protection and self defence. And that’s the faux pa to talk about in Canada. In the states, it’s something that people talk about. There are sections in the criminal code that do permit for it and all the rest, but it’s something that in the firearms community, nobody wants to talk about.
[00:35:37] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s, it’s faux pa and I think it’s more so, depending on who’s in power. Um, but it’s funny to see, and I don’t mean this in a negative way, but, um, you know, as soon as you realize that, um, something serious can happen and, you know, you help might not be a phone call away. You know, every, you know, hardcore anti-gun this and anti-gun that they’re, they’re lining up to, to buy guns and like that’s okay.
[00:36:06] And I don’t mind that it’s great. The more that are out there, the harder they are to take away. Um, but you know, it’s interesting that that’s what it takes for people to open up their, um, mindset. You know what I mean, to do that. Whereas for me, you know, got, a gun to me is not this glowing sphere of hot energy or anything like that.
[00:36:31] It’s just, it’s a tool, you know, you hunt with it, you shoot it, it is what it is. If it’s unloaded it, ain’t going to do anything, you know, so it’s interesting the than the past year and a half, the types of people we’ve been seeing and.
[00:36:43] Um, what’s really cool is them coming into the store and then realizing that it’s like, it’s not like the movies were not where some crotchety old guns or where, you know, we don’t want to help people and stuff like that. We, we, we do take an interest in, you know, I call it our customer success in, you know, firearm ownership so.
[00:37:02] Travis Bader: Cool.
[00:37:02] Matt Mendel: Yeah, man.
[00:37:03] Travis Bader: Well, with the, um, operating a firearms business is so heavily regulated. It’s a weird thing because it’s so tightly controlled in some ways and so unbelievably gray and other ways.
[00:37:19] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I think you, I think, you know, a lot about that. Um, but yeah.
[00:37:23] I do know a lot about that.
[00:37:25] It’s insane, man. Like, um, and that’s what’s really frustrating is that a lot of people like, like I’ll just throw it out there. Like the, the ban that happened a year ago with the OIC, right? Like everyone thought like, oh my God, like, yay, rah, rah, that was on the other, on the anti-gun side. And then like you just like pick the top scab off that right.
[00:37:45] And it’s just utter and I’m sorry for my french, dog shit. Like you can tell that no thought or effort went into it. And it’s the same thing. Like it is a tightly controlled industry, but there’s not a lot of guidance from anyone as to, like there’s no 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 step as to, you know, what kind of security you need, what kind of, um, you know, what kind of records you need to keep and all this kind of stuff.
[00:38:08] It’s like, here’s the goal, figure out how to get there. And that’s, can be really frustrating um, in general, but can also be very detrimental to new businesses opening up and people who, you know, and the other thing too, province to province. Um, you know, as you know, depending on who’s doing inspections and all this kind of stuff, like the rules are different.
[00:38:32] Like you can have one year everything’s great. The next year, you’re the worst gun store ever. And you need to completely pull, tear everything apart and rebuild, you know, whatever aspect they’re not happy with. So it can be really discouraging and, uh, it really can ruin, you know, put it on the far end. I think it would ruin a lot of people’s lives.
[00:38:50] Travis Bader: Does, so it really can. And I agree with that in the, when it comes down to the ambiguity in the greyness of it, you can just, as a general firearms owner, people know you can call up, you can talk to one representative on one day and get one answer and you can get a completely different answer on the next day. And they.
[00:39:09] Matt Mendel: Or just bloody checking a PAL.
[00:39:11] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:39:12] Matt Mendel: Validity. You know, you get three different answers with three different phone calls. Do I need their phone number? Do I need their address? Do I need their blood type? Do I need this? Do I need the last five digits after the decimal? All this kind of stuff.
[00:39:23] And you know, you can call one person with just a name and date of birth and a PAL and they’ll say yes or no. Then the other person will say, no, you need this set of rules and then no, you need, you know, going down the line. And it’s, it’s crazy.
[00:39:35] Travis Bader: So from an individual owner standpoint, that’s frustrating.
[00:39:38] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah.
[00:39:38] Travis Bader: From a firearms business owners standpoint, this is your livelihood and one person’s opinion on policy, not necessarily legislation or regulation, one person’s opinion can make or break what you’re doing until you find another opinion that’s contrary or that, that.
[00:39:57] Matt Mendel: Yeah, my mortgage doesn’t get paid. You know what I mean? It’s not, for me. It’s not like, oh, I don’t get to go shoot my 22 this weekend. For me, it puts food on my table. It’s how I pay my mortgage. It’s everything.
[00:40:09] Travis Bader: Does that sit in the back of your head?
[00:40:10] Matt Mendel: Oh, constantly. How can it not? Right.
[00:40:12] Travis Bader: Totally.
[00:40:12] Matt Mendel: And especially when it comes to things like that should be so simple and cut and dry as pol, as firearm policy, um, that it’s interpreted 20 different ways by 20 different people. And no one really knows the answer. It’s like, as I just said that it sounds insane, but if you’re a Canadian gun owner, you know.
[00:40:30] Well, it
[00:40:31] Travis Bader: is insane.
[00:40:31] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:40:32] Travis Bader: And not only that it can affect your livelihood, it can affect your personal freedom as well.
[00:40:37] Matt Mendel: For sure. 100%, there was, um, the gentleman Sureshot in Poco. I dunno if you remember that shop there.
[00:40:45] Travis Bader: Yeah, actually I’ve probably got a file here that, uh, that he handed over to me because.
[00:40:50] Matt Mendel: Yeah, he’s one of the nicest dudes.
[00:40:52] Travis Bader: So nice.
[00:40:53] Matt Mendel: And he grew up, uh, my wife grew up, uh, in the same complex as he was. And, uh, when he opened Sureshot the that’s, what it was called, right?
[00:41:01] Travis Bader: Mhmm.
[00:41:02] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I remember like walking into that place, I was like, this is the dopest gun store I’ve ever walked into. I was like, he had everything bad-ass that every gun store should have had, he had bulk ammo, he had tons of handguns. It was so, and him and his wife were the nicest people right. And, and, you know, his story is a prime example.
[00:41:21] Travis Bader: It is so sad.
[00:41:22] Matt Mendel: Yeah. It it’s ridiculous. And the worst part about it is he was a sacrificial lamb at a point where, uh, gangs and, um, you know, shootings were happening and he was just, they needed somebody to, um, I don’t know, like make a headline and he knew. Yeah, it was just super sad and he never did anything wrong. And that’s an example of worst case scenario obviously.
[00:41:46] Travis Bader: Somewhere floating around in a secure filing cabinet, I’ve got I’ve was asked to opine on his case at one point. And so I got to look at the ins and outs of what happened to him, into his wife. And it was extremely troubling to look at the process that he was put through. Now, he was an immigrant, I believe he did, he, he had full Canadian citizenship.
[00:42:12] Matt Mendel: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know the extent of that part.
[00:42:14] Travis Bader: Right. So I’m looking through the video clips that were provided over of the take-down and the raid. Um, essentially, uh, he was being accused of, um, a whole bunch of things. Like a whole bunch of things. None of which had any, any, uh, value that I could see.
[00:42:34] Matt Mendel: Or like basis in reality.
[00:42:35] Travis Bader: Or any basis in reality, uh, this was during a time when a magazine importation was permitted, provided, it was, uh, pinned and, uh.
[00:42:46] Matt Mendel: Yeah. And I dunno, you can correct me if I’m wrong. It wasn’t that just like a paper, like, it was like a flip of the switch paperwork kind of thing that happened to him. Like it was.
[00:42:54] Travis Bader: He had it as a condition on his business license.
[00:42:57] Matt Mendel: Yeah, that’s what.
[00:42:57] Travis Bader: That he was able to take these things in. And so what happened from my recollection here, uh, was that, I think it was a relative of his, had shipped some magazines up from the states up to a, um, like a ups store or something like this, but they were all properly pinned.
[00:43:14] They’re all a legal, everything as it ought to be, there may have been something overlooked on the export side from US. I’m not sure I’m not, I don’t know the US ,laws in an out, but not none of that was being alleged.
[00:43:28] All I recall is looking back on it saying like, if they wanted to try and make something, maybe they could try and do something there, but it went to the, I think it was a ups postal store or wherever it was. I came to the customs first, customs looks at it, police say, send it on through. And we’ll send one of our guys to act as a post office person.
[00:43:48] And so when he comes through, then we can verify, and we can do a bit of a, uh, a takedown. Anyways, they do that and they don’t take them down at the store. They give him the stuff he’s got this package, which arguably he’s got no idea what’s in it. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, I don’t know. Um, and they take them down to the front of his store saying that he’s now importing magazines.
[00:44:12] Well, that was the valid business condition that he had on his license. They’ve didn’t lock him up, I believe they detained his wife for a bit. They went to his house.
[00:44:22] Matt Mendel: Yeah, they raided his house and they’re like, he’s got a sawed off shotgun. And then they had it on the front page of the paper. And it was just like a regular shotgun.
[00:44:28] Travis Bader: And armour piercing ammunition, right? All of these things, none of which is illegal. None of the points that he did and the crown council that was involved. I happened to know that crown council and I’ve had numerous conversations with them. Uh, offered him some deals and said, tell you what, we’ll make it all go away. You just agree to this, we can make it all go away.
[00:44:50] You agree to that, we’ll make it all go away. And the deals got diminishing more and more until finally they came out and they said they essentially held his wife hostage, his wife who’s having medical problems and they ruined him. They ruined this one firearms business owner due to his lack of understanding of the Canadian legal process and bully tactics.
[00:45:11] Matt Mendel: Guilty through due process.
[00:45:13] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:45:13] Matt Mendel: It’s something that floats around in our industry quite a, quite a bit.
[00:45:16] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:45:16] Matt Mendel: You’re not guilty of anything you’re guilty through the process is what makes you guilty. It makes you broke, it makes you unable to do anything else.
[00:45:25] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:45:25] Matt Mendel: So, yeah, that’s, it’s an unfortunate part of what we do, you know.
[00:45:29] Travis Bader: So what do you do to protect yourself from that?
[00:45:34] Matt Mendel: Oh, man. I mean, you’ve always got to stay on top of, you know, any changes in legislature. I’ve always had a thing, like always go above and beyond. If they, if the goalpost is a hundred yards go 300 yards, like, you know what I mean? Like always go above and beyond, that way there’s no question like that.
[00:45:56] It’s all about intent, right? That’s what everything boils down to in the, in the legal world. Um, and if you show intent that you were doing the right thing and you wanted to do the right thing, it covers you to an extent. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to crown and whoever else to do what they want to do, but it’s always about covering your ass and just doing as much as you possibly can. Um.
[00:46:20] Travis Bader: Does that alienate the client base because you’re going to have client base who’re like, this is a bare minimum that you have to meet and why are you going above?
[00:46:26] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I mean, we, we have certain things we will abide by and like, or not abide by, but like certain measures we do take as a business that’s not forced upon us. Um, but there’s certain things we just like that we’ve, that have been requested of us on that we just flat out won’t do. And like a big ones, obviously non-restricted’s, um, stuff like that. It’s, it’s not required. It’s none of our business, you know, move on.
[00:46:53] It’s not like I know some companies do record non-restricted stuff. Um, but yeah, I mean, It’s all about the ebb and flow of what works for your company and what your, you know, and what’s your, essentially what you’re willing to die on the cross, on what it boils down to, right?
[00:47:08] Like something, something, you know, is either right or wrong and you go down that route and our customers are always covered. So it’s never a case where we’re going to take advantage of our customers. Sure to fashion whatsoever.
[00:47:21] Travis Bader: Totally.
[00:47:22] Matt Mendel: We do what we can on our end and Jesus take the wheel on the rest of it.
[00:47:26] Travis Bader: Yeah. Well, you know, dying on the cross bout some of these things are sometimes you look at it and you might have your own personal political feelings on something, but then you have to take into account the repercussions of what those feelings will have for you, your wife, do you have kids?
[00:47:43] Matt Mendel: No, no kids.
[00:47:44] Travis Bader: I got. And a, and your coworkers and those who work with you and you have to start trying to juggle all of that. I mean, it’s not for the faint of heart.
[00:47:55] Matt Mendel: It’s definitely not.
[00:47:55] Travis Bader: To get into business.
[00:47:57] Matt Mendel: There’s a reason why my solitude spot is a bar.
[00:48:02] Travis Bader: It’s not for the faint of heart to get into a firearms business.
[00:48:05] Matt Mendel: Oh, definitely not.
[00:48:07] Travis Bader: , but if you follow your heart, like what you’re talking about, what would you, what advice would you give to somebody who says, look, I really want to get into this. Like for me personally, I tell my kids, if you want to get into a firearms business, that’s up to you. You’re on your own though.
[00:48:24] I mean, it’s not something that I’m going to support because there are easier ways to generate a living, but it might not necessarily necessarily align with what your passions are.
[00:48:36] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I learned pretty quick on, um, that, um, you know, my mother died when I was very young, so, or when I was young. So I knew that I did not want to live a life. Like it’s a mundane box, filing paperwork. I knew that that’s a risk I was willing to take.
[00:48:57] Um, but as far as like somebody wanting to get into it, um, w always find somebody who’s smarter than you, and just learn as much as you can from them and be humble about what you thought the answer was, versus what reality is.
[00:49:11] Um, and be able to accept that. And like a prime example is like, it’s hard, like getting approvals and licensing and, you know, the inspections and everything to open up a business. And, you know, you have to jump through the hoops and it’s expensive. Um, and it is what it is. But at the end of the day, if firearms is your passion, then I mean, who cares? I mean, it’s, it is what it is. You’re either doing it or you’re not, and.
[00:49:38] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:49:39] Matt Mendel: The strong will get through it. And the guys who weren’t meant to do it, you know, there’ll be doing something else.
[00:49:43] Travis Bader: They’ll find an excuse. It was the recession, or.
[00:49:46] Matt Mendel: Yeah exactly.
[00:49:47] Travis Bader: It was COVID.
[00:49:48] Matt Mendel: Exactly right. There’s always an excuse not to do what you really want in life. And I, I’m very lucky and don’t get me wrong. Like you know, I will say I worked my way through it, but, or worked my way to where I’m at, but, um, you know, it is possible to do, um, you just got to grind it out and if you really love what you’re doing, it’s, it never really feels like work. You know what I mean?
[00:50:12] Even on like the worst days I ever, like, we always say it in the shop, like, you know, still better than filing paperwork. Like even if you’re having the worst day, it’s like, yeah, man, I’m still, but it’s still better than, you know, a mundane job where you’re not passionate about what you’re doing. And, you know.
[00:50:27] Travis Bader: You know, from a, uh, from the scariness side of operating a firearms business where the, the election happening next week, it could, um, well this one comes out the election happening probably that day. Um, could change everything for you.
[00:50:45] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure it can.
[00:50:47] Travis Bader: How would you. I I’ve always looked at as, you know, if they outlawed firearms, maybe you only, the businesses have firearms. There’s still a business model in place. There’s always something that you can jump to if they say, Hey, uh, you can only use the indoor ranges.
[00:51:01] Okay. Set up an indoor range. Hey, these guns are illegal. Great, get it on the business license, work within the framework and then have the, there’s always a business model regardless of how things work, but it does get harder and harder. How would you pivot essentially?
[00:51:18] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah. That’s a, we actually.
[00:51:21] Travis Bader: Cause I know you’ve thought about this.
[00:51:22] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah. I mean you have to, right. I mean, it is what it is like honestly, like one day someone could just flip a switch and it’s not just like, oh, you know, you can’t even pivot you’re toast. Um, so you know, we’ll talk about it in two breaths there. I mean the first one they flipped the switch, guns, guns are gone like overnight, like hand ’em in, jackbooted thugs knocking on your door, all that fun stuff.
[00:51:43] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:51:44] Matt Mendel: The crew guys I have, um, between my Craig, my partners, Craig and Marco, um, and the guys who work for me, like they’re my family and whatever I’m doing, they’re coming with me. Whether it’s another business venture or whatever. Um, I’m making sure that my guys are coming with me. Cause they’re, they’re what makes the shop.
[00:52:03] I mean, you know, we can do as much as we can ordering and stuff like that at the end of the day, like I can’t run the shop on myself, Craig can’t run the shop, Marco can’t run the shop, you got to have a good solid group of guys with you. Um, in regards to pivoting, I mean, you know, we, you know, you could pivot to, um, outdoor stuff, you know, like that’s kind of our main thing.
[00:52:29] That would be your thing, right? Like I’m a gear guy, I’m a gear nut, I love gear. Back, like I got this ridiculous backpack collection. I just, I don’t know what it is, man. I just buy backpack after backpack and you know, like just different stuff right? Like I got the, this new Mystery Ranch, one that came in with a that’s like the wax canvas.
[00:52:47] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:52:47] Matt Mendel: I just thought that was just like, that’s it, man, that’s that’s backpack forever. Right. Before that was an Arc’Teryx and all those kinds of stuff and knives and out, you know, that’s other aspects of being gun owners, right? Like you’re always, you’re usually outdoors and we’re doing something in regards to that and like making outdoors, comfortable. You know, like chairs and stuff like that and cookware.
[00:53:09] So we’d probably do something like that, but honestly, like it would have to be like worst case scenario. Like I, like guns are my thing, guns, I live, breathe and die guns.
[00:53:20] Travis Bader: I got a sense that you’re kind of like me and so far is I’m extremely obstinante. I can be extremely, um, strong-willed and pig headed about things. And as I look at the gun path, um, there’s always a way to make it work.
[00:53:36] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah.
[00:53:37] Travis Bader: But, maybe taking a bit of a step back and saying, is there a better way that we can service a customers and service a client base? And as opposed to just trying to fight the current head on, can we ride this current in order to?
[00:53:50] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s so many, this is the thing, and this has been in the past like five years, there is some amazing Canadian companies. This is the thing, what I was from the start of the business, I never understood why there weren’t more Canadian companies building guns, like from scratch, right.
[00:54:05] Because you don’t, if it’s non restricted, then the FRT becomes an opinion. Right. And stuff like that. And then, so you got these new companies, like, you know, um, Kodiak Defense.
[00:54:15] Travis Bader: Yep.
[00:54:16] Matt Mendel: You’ve got.
[00:54:16] Travis Bader: Oh they’re great.
[00:54:17] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Spectre Ballistics. Uh, you’ve got Maple Ridge Armoury.
[00:54:22] Travis Bader: Ultimatum.
[00:54:23] Matt Mendel: Yeah, Ultimatum.
[00:54:24] Travis Bader: IBI.
[00:54:24] Matt Mendel: Yeah, IBI, you know, PGW, you got KDX, you got all these amazing companies. Right. And then like, um, the fastest response, you know, to the change in, you know, the OIC ban, you know, um, Maple Ridge Armoury came out with the, uh, the, sorry, the Renegade, which is the straightened.
[00:54:42] Right. I’m like, that’s what this industry needs, it needs people like that. So that companies like us have something to pivot to, some different product right. And it’s still a fantastic product. It’s very, well-made, it has its purpose. Um, it may look like an AR, but it’s not, but it’s super cool to go shoot a deer with it. Uh, you know.
[00:55:02] Travis Bader: You know, you’re highlighting something, that’s just kind of clicking in the back of my head because I couldn’t agree more, you’re 100%, right. That is what our market needs. And we have had people like that who pivot quite quickly and they will find, I don’t want to say loopholes because that’s how it’s some people will, will define, Hey, you’re just working a loophole.
[00:55:26] No, it says it’s legal. So I’m making it based on the framework that you’ve provided.
[00:55:31] Matt Mendel: For sure.
[00:55:31] Travis Bader: Joe Dlask.
[00:55:32] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:55:32] Travis Bader: And he would do that over and over again. I mean, he’s done it with the 22 mags for the.
[00:55:38] Matt Mendel: Yeah, the tough 22.
[00:55:39] Travis Bader: Right. And he would did it with like pump action AR is back in the day and he did.
[00:55:43] Matt Mendel: I remember those.
[00:55:44] Travis Bader: Remember those?
[00:55:44] Matt Mendel: Those things were rad.
[00:55:45] Travis Bader: Yeah. And he, over and over again, he’s doing these pivoting, but the one thing in that whole piece of the puzzle, which I find, um, very difficult is the amount of love that a company will feel when they do that pivot, everyone says, Hey, we love and let’s get behind them.
[00:56:03] And how quickly everybody runs away the second that things look a little bit scary. I have seen Joe drag through the mud on online forums for only doing things that are perfectly legal and that the firearms community wants. So the level of sticktuitiveness and co-operation.
[00:56:22] Matt Mendel: That’s a Canadian gun owner thing then. That’s, if there’s one thing that just drives me nuts about Canadian gun owners, it’s that exactly what you just described it we’re were own worst enemy sometimes.
[00:56:35] Travis Bader: Why? Why?
[00:56:36] Matt Mendel: I have no idea. You got a guy like any company who’s willing to, like, for example, what Joe is doing. He’s, um, pushing the envelope of taking people to task, essentially. The people that say, you know, they say, oh, this is what, you know, the pump action AR oh, no, that’s not okay because it’s, it’s like, no, it is okay. And that’s how not just, you know, that, but other innovations are made that way. Right.
[00:57:02] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:57:02] Matt Mendel: But yeah. I mean, gun owners, holy moly, man. Like they.
[00:57:08] Travis Bader: Like Kodiak.
[00:57:09] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Like it’s unbelievable. Like why, how vicious we can be to each other. And it’s like a company, like, yeah, example like the Kodiak WK fiasco or whatever happened there right? Yeah. Like, are you guys kidding me? Like, did they brought to market a Canadian, 100% Canadian made semi-auto, non-restricted firearm, during like one of the worst firearms ban since like the assault ban in 72 or whatever 70, whatever it was.
[00:57:39] And it’s like, what is wrong with you people? Like the company like, reverse five years ago and you did there wasn’t a world where there’d be a sub $1,500 Canadian made 223 that takes AR mags that’s non-restricted.
[00:57:56] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:57:57] Matt Mendel: Doesn’t, doesn’t exist.
[00:57:58] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:57:58] Matt Mendel: You know, but there it is during one of the worst times. And, you know, people, people chose their sides of who they thought was right and wrong and.
[00:58:07] Travis Bader: Right.
[00:58:08] Matt Mendel: You know.
[00:58:09] Travis Bader: That’s uh, so.
[00:58:11] Matt Mendel: We sell Kodiak by the way.
[00:58:12] Travis Bader: Yeah. And I love Kodiak.
[00:58:14] Matt Mendel: Great guys.
[00:58:15] Travis Bader: Awesome guys.
[00:58:16] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:58:17] Travis Bader: Uh.
[00:58:17] Matt Mendel: They, they were one of the first people I met, um, in the industry that like I dealt with.
[00:58:23] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:58:23] Matt Mendel: Um, way back the, the two brothers and.
[00:58:26] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[00:58:26] Matt Mendel: Just like the nicest guys on earth.
[00:58:29] Travis Bader: Funny story about them.
[00:58:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:58:31] Travis Bader: So, you know, their shops right around the corner from us.
[00:58:33] Matt Mendel: Oh, I did not know that. No.
[00:58:34] Travis Bader: Okay. So, I get there, there was a guy in this building complex that we’re in right now and he would sleep upstairs in his shop and he says, oh no, it’s a caretaker suite right. Even though I think actually this unit that we have here is a one license when that to be caretaker. Anyways, I digress.
[00:58:51] I get this like blurry cell phone pictures from him and he sending me pictures cause I guess the two brothers had rented a shop here and they’re unloading a big old van full of Russian military looking crates and stuff. And he sending me all these services, all these nervous pictures, and I said, I’m going to contact the police. I’m going to contact this and I’m like, just hold on.
[00:59:17] Matt Mendel: This, isn’t a Steven Seagal movie going down.
[00:59:18] Travis Bader: Right, exactly. Just hold on a little bit right. Anyways, I think he actually did end up contacting somebody in all of this and. I, uh, while he’s trying to contact, I contacted one of the firearms officers. I said, is there any business here?
[00:59:35] And he’s like, nope, nope, there isn’t. And I’m like, are you sure? And he comes back a little bit later. He’s like, okay, hold on, I just double checked, yes, new business in there. Anyway, so it didn’t help these two brothers that they’re taller than me. I’m 6’6″.
[00:59:48] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[00:59:49] Travis Bader: And these guys.
[00:59:49] Matt Mendel: Two monsters, probably in trench coats.
[00:59:51] Travis Bader: Yeah, they were. They were.
[00:59:51] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Leather jackets.
[00:59:53] Travis Bader: Yeah. Man they look like just Russian mafia, but they are the salt of the earth.
[00:59:59] Matt Mendel: Oh go, like, yeah. Probably some of my favorite people.
[01:00:02] Travis Bader: Yeah. Agreed.
[01:00:03] Matt Mendel: Just awesome guys.
[01:00:05] Travis Bader: Yeah. So again, why, why do we eat our own from a gun owner standpoint, but even more from the business standpoint, cause the gun owners don’t see all the drama that goes on. But by businesses, once you reach a certain level in the firearms business industry, I think there’s a general understanding and people realize we’re in this together.
[01:00:24] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure. I think that, uh, it’s a lot of like my nut, like this is my, my thing. And a lot of people in the industry, I guess, you know, this is just my take on it, but like feel owed, like to some extent or another, in a business transaction or, you know, however it goes and um, yeah. I just think that you get stuck in that rut, right?
[01:00:50] Like you just see the carrot in front of the nose and you just kinda keep going after it when there’s a much wider picture to be taken from it.
[01:00:59] Travis Bader: You know, I’ve always, uh, I’ve looked at it and I’ve got a couple different theories on it. One, from the business standpoint, there is a very low barrier of entry to start a firearms business if you’ve got the cahones to do it.
[01:01:14] Matt Mendel: Exactly. Yeah.
[01:01:16] Travis Bader: Once you get the checks and check marks on from the firearms program and. So consequently that will bring in people who might not have as much business acumen as somebody gets into a higher barrier to, of entry position. Like if you’re a lawyer, I’m sure everyone’s going to have drama.
[01:01:35] They’re all gonna have their things, but a law firms, different practices by the time they’re operating, they probably have a general understanding of how everyone works together. That low barrier of entry and lack of sort of business acumen can create the, this is my nut, this is my thing, and nobody else could have it. I can see that.
[01:01:52] Matt Mendel: Exactly. Yeah.
[01:01:53] Travis Bader: And then the other one that I see pretty big is, with all the rules that are put on to firearms owners, I think there’s a level of wanting to have some sort of ownership or things within your own locus of control that firearms owners will start creating their own rules on top of the rules that are already there. This is where you see, like, they talk about range Nazis, or they talk about.
[01:02:18] Matt Mendel: Fuds.
[01:02:19] Travis Bader: Right or fuds and everyone says, well, you can’t have this. You can only do this or whatever it might be because I, and I could be off base. Maybe the listeners.
[01:02:27] Matt Mendel: No like I could see that too. Like, uh, you know, like, oh, if AR’s didn’t exist, no one would even care about my little 22 pump act, or whatever.
[01:02:36] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:02:36] Matt Mendel: You know what I mean?
[01:02:37] Travis Bader: We’re, we’re like beaten dogs, right. Always cowering, always sort of hiding in the corner saying, well I can’t advertise like this because people will get mad. Or I can’t talk openly about the fact that I own firearms. And this is where one of the places where The Silvercore Podcast is, I’m able to bring on people who have a passion for what they do and share that passion with others.
[01:02:59] Because firearms, like you mentioned earlier, anybody listening to this already knows, that they’re inanimate objects. They’re only as evil as a person who has it. Yes, a firearm in the hands of a person with ill intent is scary. A firearm, but a person of ill intent is a scary, period.
[01:03:17] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and the only time I’ve been heard as stubbing my toe on a case ammo.
[01:03:23] Travis Bader: Yeah. Done that. So I think with the OIC that came out, like I’m sure given, uh, Wanstalls demographic and business model, that must have hurt.
[01:03:39] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah. I mean, there’s, there’s nobody who thinks, like we love tactical stuff. Like that’s, that’s kinda my thing. Like I love modern kind of style military firearms. That’s what I enjoy the most. Um, so yeah, like it was a big kick to the, the, the, the bits, but, um, again, like I don’t know, it’s hard. Like the OIC wasn’t a surprise, right?
[01:04:05] Cause the OIC was talked about months beforehand and it was like, oh, he’s going to do it on when you know, what’s her name from New Zealand comes and then he was going to be like this, that, and the other thing. So like, it’s kinda like, you know, you, you kind of knew it was coming, but, um, I mean, I didn’t think it would be to the extent of, I mean, what it was like, it was like, it was crazy.
[01:04:27] And it was just like, again, that was what I had mentioned like you scratch the top off. It, there’s a coffee company in there and, uh, a website and you know, whatever else that they put in there. Um, but yeah, we were able, well first off we were in the pan, the middle of the pandemic. So stock was hard to get in anyways. Um, and two, like we saw it coming, we made our adjustments as far as inventory and stuff.
[01:04:52] And then, yeah, we were, we were one of the lucky ones that didn’t, um, really get dinged too hard by it. We didn’t have a lot of inventory left. Um, um, so that was good for us. Um, but yeah.
[01:05:04] Travis Bader: That was lucky.
[01:05:04] Matt Mendel: Yeah, it was, it was lucky. There was some businesses that got hit like super hard.
[01:05:08] Travis Bader: Yes.
[01:05:08] Matt Mendel: And like we’re talking in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of inventories of not millions.
[01:05:13] Travis Bader: Just sitting there now.
[01:05:14] Matt Mendel: Yeah, now it’s all rusting and, uh, you can’t do anything with it. And like, that was the classic that the, oh, you can send them back to the states. No you can’t. You know, typical don’t think anything through liberal government, you know? Oh, you just send them back down where they came from.
[01:05:30] Travis Bader: You can’t do that.
[01:05:31] Matt Mendel: You can’t do that, man. But thanks for telling us we can. Um, so yeah, like we were, we were really lucky in that regard. So the whole thing is, is to keep, uh, an ear down to, uh, what’s going on in the industry. And also like never assume a liberal government is not going to do the craziest shit you can imagine, like, you know what I mean?
[01:05:50] Travis Bader: Like going into it.
[01:05:52] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:05:53] Travis Bader: The best predictor of future performance is past performance.
[01:05:56] Matt Mendel: Exactly.
[01:05:56] Travis Bader: And every single time, there’s the same common trend. I personally don’t think they care one way or the other about firearms, has got zero to do with the issue of firearms. It’s to create opposition.
[01:06:09] Matt Mendel: Yeah, sure. It’s now conservatives like guns, we don’t like guns. Rah, rah, rah.
[01:06:14] Travis Bader: Conservatives are baby killers.
[01:06:15] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Stand, you know, jump on your soap box and do your thing, you know, hopefully this go around, he’s got enough going for him but.
[01:06:22] Travis Bader: So that was the OIC.
[01:06:25] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:06:25] Travis Bader: But then COVID hit and I seen a quote in the paper, I think a 200% was the thing that sticks out in that quote.
[01:06:32] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Yeah.
[01:06:33] Travis Bader: Holy crow.
[01:06:35] Matt Mendel: Yeah, the, the COVID hit, uh, the COVID for us was, the COVID, I sound, whatever. Um, yeah, it was insane for us, like it was, it was bananas. So, um, the, when it first started, it was like our shelf was cleaned out in, like every single gun I had, like guns that even sucked that, like, they have nothing to do with anything other than a fun gun. Like everything was, was selling, all my ammo. I ran out of shotgun ammo, like immediately, uh, anything, 12 gauge was gone. Um, yeah, it was crazy. Crazy.
[01:07:13] Travis Bader: Are you seeing a second wave of that kind of happen?
[01:07:16] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:07:16] Travis Bader: With the election coming up.
[01:07:18] Matt Mendel: With the election coming up for sure. And then everyone’s so, you know, they don’t know what’s coming, you know, we’re going into fall here and, you know, Delta variants, this Zulu variants that, whatever right.
[01:07:27] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:07:27] Matt Mendel: Who knows. But, um, it’s definitely interesting. I’ve never worked in the industry. I’ve worked, oh, sorry. I’ve worked in the industry for a very long time. I’ve never seen uh, so many people who historically aren’t gun owners coming in saying, I need self-defence and I’m just like, we’re not allowed to say that.
[01:07:45] Like it’s crazy. And people are like, I don’t even, I don’t care. Like, that’s why I’m buying it and I went and got my gun license and, you know, I don’t care. I just want a shotgun. And I’m like, okay, well, here you go. Like, you know, like, cool, I, I’m down with that. Like, it’s a reality of the fact that he’s, you know, it’s a reality of life. Like it is what it is.
[01:08:06] Travis Bader: People have to be able to defend themselves.
[01:08:08] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:08:08] Travis Bader: There is a legal framework in place that allows for it.
[01:08:10] Matt Mendel: And like, when COVID kicked off there and everything was. Um, selling out everywhere and like, you didn’t know how crazy people were going to get right. I mean, luckily, you know, everyone kept calm, cool and collective.
[01:08:21] Um, but yeah, like that’s the first time ever. I’ve seen that, like influx and the influx of like people who historically have no interest in firearms, just buying whatever went, bang. Which I’m okay with.
[01:08:35] Travis Bader: Yeah, exactly. Just introduce a brand new group of people.
[01:08:39] And a lot
[01:08:40] Matt Mendel: of them, it’s interesting. A lot of them have come back and it’s become a part of their life. It’s actually a hobby and what it was originally just a worry purchase. And a lot of people are like, oh, it’s, you know, it’s not that bad. You know, it’s kind of cool.
[01:08:53] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[01:08:53] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:08:53] Travis Bader: And now they’ve got a garden and a bunch of toilet paper.
[01:08:55] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no doubt. You know, when those little, you know, little, uh, war gardens and everything to get the little.
[01:09:01] Travis Bader: And they know how to make bread.
[01:09:02] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
[01:09:05] Travis Bader: So tell me about the social media side. You took that social media from nothing grown into something pretty, pretty spectacular. And I think, cause you mentioned earlier, you said, you know, follow your dream. And the social media part is a very big part of what we do.
[01:09:22] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:09:23] Travis Bader: What, what have you learned on that? And would you have any advice to anybody else who wants to kind of grow that their, their social media?
[01:09:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure. I mean, um, Wanstalls social media is my baby, a hundred percent like that, I started it from nothing. I had a very clear plan of where I wanted it to go and I feel like it’s, uh, it’s pretty, I like where it’s at now.
[01:09:47] Um, the biggest advice I would give people, um, and it’s probably not popular advice, would be if you get a bad review online, or if someone has something negative to say about your company, one, do the research as to how the, what happened with the transaction, where the breakdown with the customer was, because there’s always two sides to every story right.
[01:10:09] And like, we’ve, I mean, it’s retail and it’s people’s money and they get really hotheaded and all that kind of stuff. But if you were in fact in the right, you tell, you go on to the bad Google review, you go into the bad Facebook review and be like, Hey man, you’re being unreasonable and this is how it went down and you just lay it down.
[01:10:29] Travis Bader: I’ve seen those on your.
[01:10:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah man. And you know, when we first started that, uh, you know, it wasn’t popular with the ownership at the time of Wanstalls, but I said, Hey man, like, we didn’t do anything wrong here. And it’s important people know that. And if you just put the information out there, you know, people take what they will from it.
[01:10:44] But at least now they have two sides of the story. And the other big part of that too, where, where it’s easy to, you know, sling mud back. Um, if you did screw up own it and just say, Hey man, I’m.
[01:10:57] Travis Bader: A thousand percent.
[01:10:58] Matt Mendel: Yeah, man. You just say, listen, I’m sorry that this is how this transaction went down. I apologize, I’ve made, you know, I’ve talked to the staff, make sure it doesn’t happen again. Cause there comes to a point in a conversation, like when there’s a whole conversation that happens before a bad review or anything like that. And, and I understand it as a customer, as a consumer product, you just, the answer is, you know, piss off.
[01:11:22] I don’t want to deal with you guys anymore. Here’s your bad review and you move on, right? Whether you’re right or you’re wrong. I understand that point where you just stopped communicating with it, with the shop. But it’s important that the business and whoever’s, you know, in whatever business you’re doing, if you do screw up own it, learn from it and make sure the public knows that you did screw up right?
[01:11:41] So it’s not just a bunch of reviews, you know, throwing back and saying, Hey, this is what actually happened and blah, blah, blah. You know, it does happen from time to time and we are human. That’s the other thing people need to understand is we are human, we’re not robots.
[01:11:55] We’re not mad, you know, and we’re not Walmart or Costco. We don’t, we don’t have a 365 day return policy and you can bring it in covered in mud and blah, blah, blah.
[01:12:05] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:12:06] Matt Mendel: We’re a privately owned business and, you know, everyone has to be reasonable in the transaction.
[01:12:13] Travis Bader: Yeah. That’s one of the things that I see some businesses trying to do is a compete on price alone because they’ve got the Walmarts out there and they’ve got the, uh, the Costco’s. And I see that if, if that’s your main motivating factor, your, of course is going to be people who are always price shopping.
[01:12:32] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:12:32] Travis Bader: But especially in the world where you’re trying to set up a relationship, because if you purchase a firearm, there’s going to be ancillary purchases, might be holsters, there might be ammunition, there might be extra magazines, there’s all these other things. And then it might break and you might need, so.
[01:12:46] Matt Mendel: Exactly.
[01:12:47] Travis Bader: You’re in the business of, is setting up relationships.
[01:12:50] Matt Mendel: That’s what we look for yep.
[01:12:51] Travis Bader: Right. And those relationships are worth something. And there shouldn’t, customers shouldn’t be looking at the bottom of the barrel because they know that that relationship is going to be worth what they paid for it.
[01:13:02] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I mean, that’s a, an aspect. A lot of people bring up with me that we’re not always the cheapest.
[01:13:08] Travis Bader: Sure.
[01:13:09] Matt Mendel: And I just tell them I’m not looking to be the cheapest. I don’t.
[01:13:11] Travis Bader: Good for you.
[01:13:12] Matt Mendel: I don’t want to be, I’m not a one, one, the fact is I got to make a living.
[01:13:18] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:13:19] Matt Mendel: That’s just is what it is to, you know, classic line. You can, what is it? Speed, service and quality. You only pick two.
[01:13:26] Travis Bader: Two, but not three.
[01:13:27] Matt Mendel: Exactly. Right. And there are some shops in Canada, even in the gun industry that like, you know, it’s all about price and that’s it and that’s fine. And for some people that’s a very important part. And Hey man, like I love saving a few bucks, but I’m the kind of guy is when I, I go somewhere. I build a relationship with the people that I buy from.
[01:13:49] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:13:50] Matt Mendel: That’s the aspect of it. A lot of the times it is, if people ask me to price match, I can usually do something, but you know, I’ll put it out here for everyone to hear. I’m not always the cheapest and I don’t, and that’s intentional. It’s not for any other reason.
[01:14:04] Um, the service and the quality we try to give our customers requires it sometimes, uh, other times, you know what people just assume we’re more expensive and we’re not. You know, sometimes we’re a lot cheaper.
[01:14:17] Travis Bader: Oh you got great prices and a lot of things.
[01:14:19] Matt Mendel: Yeah. But a lot, you know, that’s the one thing I have heard is people say that and I, you know, it is. We’re not looking to be a bargain bin shop, um, bargain bin shops don’t stick around. That’s just.
[01:14:30] Travis Bader: Well, you guys have been around for quite a long time, but you know, part of that process is you’re training your clients. You’re training your customers. You’re, you’re telling them how you would like to be treated. And you’re showing that through example of how you treat them.
[01:14:44] Matt Mendel: A hundred percent.
[01:14:45] Travis Bader: It’s same in the reviews as well. I mean, you could try and placate all the people who were being wholly unreasonable, then all you’re gonna do is invite more people to be unreasonable to copy of that example.
[01:14:57] Matt Mendel: A hundred percent. And it’s like, you know, once you, once you’d bend over once, right. And, you know, do your, I don’t want to say it like that, but like somebody who’s just re blatantly being unreasonable for the sake of being unreasonable.
[01:15:13] Like, we’re not interested or I’m not saying I’m not interested, but it’s like, that’s not a relationship that’s gonna last because it’s just, you’re just going to skip across, across, across until somebody, you know, bends over and says, okay, yeah, I’ll do whatever you want. Please don’t leave me a bad Google review. Um, but the reality, the fact is those are few and far between.
[01:15:34] Travis Bader: They really are.
[01:15:35] Matt Mendel: Um, there are some places that, um, inspire that kind of mentality and that, you know, there are some, a few places on the internet that, that is somewhere that people.
[01:15:49] Travis Bader: Yeah, Gun Nutz. Yeah, I’ll say it. Yeah, Canadian Gun Nutz.
[01:15:54] Matt Mendel: Damn.
[01:15:55] Travis Bader: I think that’s part of the, uh, the business model from a, the fellow who runs it.
[01:15:59] Matt Mendel: Yeah. I mean, and that is a place. And like, you know, I, I was on Gun Nutz. I started on Gun Nutz in 2007 back then it was a like a real resource from the Canadian firearms community. What I see, and I don’t know if it, maybe I’m jaded because now I’m in the industry, but it’s pretty, it that you go to that dealer for a man, there’s some crazy shit people are posting on there. And it is like, unbelievable. Like people won’t even call the store to try to remedy the problem. They’ll just immediately dump on them.
[01:16:30] But if
[01:16:31] Travis Bader: you pay X amount of money, you can have all of that stuff removed.
[01:16:34] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:16:35] Travis Bader: And I, um, the paranoid, the suspicious side of me has always leaned to whenever I see these things happening, cause I’ve dealt with them in the past. Uh, it seems like it’s actually encouraged to crap on another business. So that business will then in turn, be encouraged to pay money to that a media outlet. To have that negative content removed.
[01:17:00] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:17:00] Travis Bader: Maybe I’m off base, but that’s been my observation.
[01:17:03] Matt Mendel: Yeah. Well, I mean, we’ve been on CGN since it started. Um, and uh, this year we decided to not renew on there, um, for a multitude of reasons. One, the one we just talked about.
[01:17:16] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:17:17] Matt Mendel: Um, two, I want to explore other advertising opportunities.
[01:17:22] Travis Bader: Sure.
[01:17:23] Matt Mendel: Um, I’ve got some pretty cool ideas I want to do, and that requires money and that website ain’t cheap to be on.
[01:17:29] Travis Bader: No, not at all.
[01:17:30] Matt Mendel: It is pretty pricey. Um, so yeah, this will be the first year we don’t won’t renew on it and you know what I hope, um, I don’t know, whatever, if it helps, it doesn’t help, I just hope other dealers on there realize that it’s not the be all end all centre of the universe for firearms ownership. There’s a lot of people who have no idea what it is. Um, and to like, you know, our customers know who we are in.
[01:17:57] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:17:58] Matt Mendel: You know, we’ve been on that site for a very long time and, um, it’s just time to check other stuff out.
[01:18:05] Travis Bader: You know, I don’t begrudge anybody from wanting to make a living regardless of the price they want to charge for it, on CGN for example, it’s really, really expensive. My concern about that platform was essentially how it was set up as a very negative environment, in my opinion. And particularly in a way that attacks businesses that are not sponsoring dealers and.
[01:18:31] Matt Mendel: Oh yeah, I see what you’re saying.
[01:18:32] Travis Bader: And that feeds into an eat your own mentality. It’s got enough traction. I mean, when that one started up, it was just a bulletin board system type thing back in the day. And, uh, uh, they got booted off their other system and the owner, uh, there, he says, well I know. I’ll just, I got a domain, I’ll start it up. And he kinda got the thing rolling. Um, it’s got traction, it’s got a lot of people on there who are knowledgeable.
[01:18:57] But just like you are training your own customers. I believe they’ve been training their own user base in such a way that is rather toxic for the Canadian firearms culture.
[01:19:08] Matt Mendel: A hundred percent. And then there’s other stuff too. Like, um, there’s been a shift on that site to some pretty weird shit being posted on there. Um, in regards to like, You know, conspiracy theory stuff and.
[01:19:22] Travis Bader: Gets a little fringe lunatic.
[01:19:23] Matt Mendel: Yeah. And you know what I mean? And like, that’s kind of where that was more of my portion of, it was like, I was just like, I’ve seen them kind of, what’s getting posted in the forums and I’m like, oh man, like, it’s.
[01:19:33] Travis Bader: It doesn’t speak to my values.
[01:19:34] Matt Mendel: It doesn’t speak. Yeah. It doesn’t speak to my values. I don’t like, you know, it’s just not what I don’t want to be associated with, you know, with crazy conspiracy theories and, you know, anti-this anti that. Um, there’s some stuff that gets posted on there and then it’s just, it is what it is. It’s, it’s an internet, it’s a free internet forum.
[01:19:54] Travis Bader: It is. And you know, my intention with a podcast is always to impart some positivity and I’m not trying to impart negativity here at on one particular.
[01:20:02] Matt Mendel: But it’s a, it’s a known thing though, right? Like, I didn’t want to say it. You brought it up and.
[01:20:07] Travis Bader: Well the reason why to go further. Why we’ve, I’ve wanted to go further into this anyways is because I figure, they have enough people on there. Maybe if enough people start talking and noticing they will make a shift because there’s a real valuable resource in every single forum to be able to help businesses and help help the industry as opposed to continuing that, eat your own.
[01:20:29] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. And then, like, I probably, you know, like with that base that’s on there. If they’ve all got to get. Like, and the mentality and the mentality changed from, um, a bargain kind of who’s selling what for the cheapest and, um, you know, shitting on other businesses and even businesses that are on there that paid money on their get crapped on all the time on there.
[01:20:53] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:20:54] Matt Mendel: Right. And then it’s up to the business to like, monitor, not just their forums, but the other forums of people could be like, it’s this whole thing. But anyways, um, it could be like one of the biggest resources, the Canadian firearms owners, right?
[01:21:06] Like if, uh, the tone of it just changed and whatnot, um, it could be like a serious, serious place for people to get together and make some change. But I mean, at its current, what it is currently, I mean.
[01:21:23] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[01:21:24] Matt Mendel: Is what it is.
[01:21:25] Travis Bader: Maybe, you know, I’ve seen others try to set up other forums, but no, one’s really kind of gotten the traction that that has. If you’re listening to this, give us a call. We’d be happy to give you some ideas on, on ways that you can, uh, or give me a call. I don’t wanna speak for you Matt. Give you some ideas on ways that you can really positively impact the firearms community.
[01:21:48] Matt Mendel: Yeah. And they’re not big changes.
[01:21:50] Travis Bader: No.
[01:21:51] Matt Mendel: Like it’s not. It wouldn’t be like an overhaul or anything like that. Like it’d just be some small stuff and.
[01:21:56] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[01:21:57] Matt Mendel: It’d be, it’d be, it’d be back to being a epicentre of Canadian firearm ownership. Cause it used to be that.
[01:22:03] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:22:03] Matt Mendel: Back in ’04. It was gun guys just by posting reviews and look at this cool thing. Look at that cool thing. And then I just kind of feel like it’s veered off to.
[01:22:12] Travis Bader: You know I had a, uh, actually in the process of selling it, but firearms, canada.com. So that’s one that I’ve had for, geez I don’t know. It’s been around since ’01 and, uh, man, the amount of hate that I got on that one from, uh, from Gun Nutz in particular. Cause it had to buy and sell and, and Gun Nutz was just like I ain’t got to set up a buy and sell. Um, it was, uh, was eye opening. And um, where I’ve always taken the approach of how can I help out another business?
[01:22:45] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:22:45] Travis Bader: How can I. Maybe it says laziness. Maybe it’s just me being lazy. I don’t want to do it all myself.
[01:22:51] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:22:51] Travis Bader: Right. I, I want it, I want to do it with other people who are like-minded.
[01:22:54] Matt Mendel: Yeah, totally.
[01:22:55] Travis Bader: Who are moving in the same direction.
[01:22:57] Matt Mendel: Yeah, different ideas.
[01:22:58] Travis Bader: Right. So anyways. Um, so finding people to work at your, uh, your establishment there, your fine establishment.
[01:23:08] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:23:09] Travis Bader: That’s probably really, really easy. Right.
[01:23:10] Ha! I don’t care
[01:23:14] Matt Mendel: what anybody says. It is tough to find people these days, man.
[01:23:17] Travis Bader: Holy Crow.
[01:23:18] Matt Mendel: Yeah. And just, um, it was tough before the pandemic, after the pandemic, it’s just, yeah. It’s, it’s super tough.
[01:23:25] Travis Bader: Are people still being incentivized to basically not work like when COVID first hit?
[01:23:30] Matt Mendel: Yeah, why would you, right?
[01:23:31] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[01:23:31] Matt Mendel: You know, it’s and that’s the thing is so many people were unemployed, um, and need to start working, but they have to start working at the bottom, but what’s the point of working at the bottom and not getting paid as much as if you were unemployed.
[01:23:45] Travis Bader: Right.
[01:23:46] Matt Mendel: You hear what I’m saying? Or even if it’s just a couple of hundred extra bucks, but now you’re working 40 hours a week.
[01:23:51] Right. That’s the point. Yeah. Right. So, um, yeah, no, it’s, it’s always, you know, there’s always, it’s always tough because you get the point of entry of having a firearms license.
[01:24:00] There’s your first one. So there it goes, call it 50% of the workforce or 60% of the workforce, whatever it is, then you got to have somebody come in, who realizes that? Who treats it? Like what? There’s two things. There’s the job description of, Hey man, it’s a part-time thing. You get the discount. I need you on Saturdays and whatever other days.
[01:24:20] Right. That’s cool. That’s easy finding those people’s stuff. Then you got to, if you want to find somebody who’s going to last long and grow with your business, that’s even harder because the mentality of starting at the bottom and working your way up, like a, to me, it’s second nature, but I’ve slowly learned over the years. That is, it is not normal.
[01:24:40] Travis Bader: No it isn’t.
[01:24:40] Matt Mendel: And a lot of people aren’t interested in it. Right. Everyone wants to come and it’d be the boss. And even if like, you know what I mean, if you’ve got, if you went to college and all that kind of stuff, that doesn’t help you in the firearms community.
[01:24:50] Travis Bader: Well, they see the trappings of what success can bring.
[01:24:53] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:24:54] Travis Bader: But they don’t see all the difficulties that you’ve had to go through and continue to go through on a routine basis in order to have those traffics.
[01:25:02] Matt Mendel: Yeah, exactly. Right. So, um, we’ve been really lucky recently it got some really solid dudes. Um, but yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s tough. And like, you know, there’s, there’s a few gun shops in the lower mainland here and it’s like, we’re all trying to pull the same people essentially right, you know. Um, so yeah, it can be tough.
[01:25:20] Um, but yeah, I mean, you know, if you want to work in the firearms community, I will tell you right now that, uh, let’s go get the job and then start at the bottom, work your way up and you’ll be there forever. So it’s super simple, man. Like gun shops, every shop I’ve worked at, um, you know, the guys who stick out like become, you become essential to the business.
[01:25:41] Travis Bader: Totally.
[01:25:41] Matt Mendel: We need you and you become part of the family. And that’s the thing with gun shops. I don’t know about other, I know of the places I’ve worked. Um, I consider every one of my employees, like, we’re like a big family. We hang out, we all go shooting together.
[01:25:54] We all, you know, go to the pub together and we all hang out, right. So that’s what it ends up being, right. So it can be super cool. It can be just as fun as you think it’s going to be. It just requires a little bit of work.
[01:26:06] Travis Bader: Yeah.
[01:26:06] Matt Mendel: That’s all it is. There’s a lot to learn.
[01:26:08] Travis Bader: You guys are hiring right now aren’t you?
[01:26:09] Matt Mendel: Uh, no, uh, we just filled a spot, but we might need somebody coming up here, but yeah.
[01:26:16] Travis Bader: Well, if you got a, if you have an interest to work in.
[01:26:18] Matt Mendel: We’re always looking for resumes people.
[01:26:20] Travis Bader: Yes. Send ’em on in.
[01:26:21] Matt Mendel: Yeah, for sure.
[01:26:22] Travis Bader: Check the website for details.
[01:26:23] Matt Mendel: No doubt ‘eh.
[01:26:25] Travis Bader: Oh man.
[01:26:26] Matt Mendel: Yeah.
[01:26:27] Travis Bader: Anything that we haven’t covered that we should.
[01:26:29] Matt Mendel: I don’t know, man. I feel like we had a pretty, pretty rad chats.
[01:26:32] Travis Bader: I do too.
[01:26:33] Matt Mendel: Yeah man.
[01:26:34] Travis Bader: Really enjoyed it.
[01:26:34] Matt Mendel: It was a lot of fun thank you very much for having me.
[01:26:36] Travis Bader: Thank you for being on The Silvercore Podcast.
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