past weekend, the Macon County Community Building welcomed visitors from all around to the Franklin gun show. Presented by Gem Capitol Shows, the event saw waves of vendors, gun enthusiasts, and many who just wanted to see what the fuss was about. In the parking lot, license plates from neighboring states like Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia, and even further distances like Florida, Alabama and Indiana were evidence of visitors who joined the locals in selling, trading, buying, and browsing through the caches of firearms and accessories. Vendors had their wares laid out across the gym floor as well as the three rooms that also served as space for the 57 different vendors who set up shop.
At most times of operation on Saturday and Sunday, the gym floor was covered by droves of people. The outer areas of the floor were lined with dealer tables and rows that ran across the middle, leaving paths to easily navigate from seller to seller, creating a steady flow of potential customers for every dealer who had a table procured. Of the dealers, most secured multiple tables to display their selection. This year, one vendor had 15 tables, with the average number being between three and five tables according to event promoter Ron Haven. Despite being titled as a gun show, other items were on display as well including knives, rations, first-aid kits, pocket watches, t-shirts, and more.
“It was a good turnout Saturday,” said Bill and Jan Sterrett, the owners and operators of Carolina Readiness Supply in Waynesville, NC. “As usual, Sunday was a little slower, but it was a good show.”
Estimates of attendance at past shows have put the number of attendees between 2,500 and 3,000 people and Haven predicts that this one will be closer to the high estimates though official figures have not yet been given.
Jack Morgan, owner of Black Dog Guns in Franklin agreed with the Sterretts about the turnout, but offered another observation. “The turnout has been very good,” said Morgan, “But people haven't really been buying a lot of guns. You see a lot of people wanting to sell what they've already got, or grabbing a lot of ammo.”
Some attendees came in empty handed, knowing that they would likely leave empty handed. Living in a rural area like Franklin, guns are often a fact of life and a gun show is an anticipated event. Some people may go to see what is there, be it guns or survival gear. Some go to socialize with other gun enthusiasts and others simply go on the off chance that they will run across something that holds some sort of nostalgia from their past like a Model 63 Winchester .22 long rifle, or a Remington .410/.22, over and under.
“I just like to see what they've got. You never know when you might run across something special that you haven't seen in years,” said Franklin resident, Matt Parrish. “I didn't have anything to do anyway and I'm always on the lookout for a good rifle.”
Ron Haven, of Gem Capitol Shows, has hosted the show for several years. Haven, an avid gun collector, prides himself on the added commerce that the show brings to the area.
“The economic impact that the show has on Macon County is phenomenal. People don't realize what putting that many people on the streets is doing for the town. These people are spending money. I believe it is a good thing for Franklin,” said Haven, “Look out on the Georgia Road at the traffic. I don't know if it is because of the gun show, but I bet it doesn't hurt. If they are here, then they can shop with local merchants in their restaurants or shops. If people didn't come to this show or they've never been to a gun show, they don't know what they're missing.”
On March 9 and 10, Gem Capitol Shows will host another gun show in Andrews, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday at the old Food Lion grocery store located on Wilson Street.