At the beginning of the year Pre98 Antiques always produces our annual outlook on collecting for the coming year. We have been in business since 1989 and there has never been a more dynamic and challenging environment that the one we are living through right now primarily due to the Pandemic.
Last year we predicted that 2020 would be an unsettled year because of the national elections and the unsettled economic situation but after 2 months of normal business things completely fell apart with the onset of Covid. We had just returned from the Show of Shows when the Covid Pandemic began to completely disrupt everyday life. Who would have thought that the last gun show we did was all the way back at the Show of Shows in February.
This lockdown situation drastically disrupted the supply flow of collectible firearms into our firm and the market as Gun & Collector shows were cancelled. Most of the year Brett & I concentrated on re-tooling our acquisition processes to adjust for this now shut down stream. There were other impacts as well to our clients, especially with our Doctor client base, they were hit especially hard as much of their health care operations were disrupted due to the virus and that impacted their financial situation.
Since last May things started to settle out to a “new normal” we have established new avenues to obtain inventory and have seen a substantial increase in business as we are one of the few dependable and reliable firms on the market that collectors can turn to. Unlike other dealers and the auction houses we have managed to maintain the stringent quality standards we were so well known for.
At least through May-June, the collector market will be much as it has been through the second half of last year. Demand will be strong across the spectrum and obtaining new inventory will continue to be challenging. We anticipate that all shows will be disrupted through May. This will continue to put pressure on the flow of guns in and out of collections for the foreseeable future and certainly through all of 2021.
The Supply of modern guns and ammunition are expected to be just as tight in 2021 as they were last year. This unfilled demand will likely continue to spill over into the collector market in increased sales for such serviceable items like 1911’s P.38’s and High Powers; they are highly collectible guns that are quite dependable in home or personal security roles.
Under normal conditions there was a lot of seasonality in the collector market with Summer and early Fall tending to be less active. In 2020 business was steady throughout the year. We expect that this will continue in 2021 with no real seasonal ups and downs. We do not anticipate the possibility of any significant or seasonal slowdown until 2022. Common sense would tell me to expect there to be some slowdown next year as funds are allocated to other activities such as travel, but History tells us that big boom periods follow such post pandemic times. Long term I think things will continue to be very active in gun collecting.
There is one major trend that we see as being accelerated by this upheaval and that is the continued rapid growth of the on-line marketplace and the increased reliance on non face to face transactions. The decline of gun and collector shows has been hastened by the Pandemic. The benefits of attending these events is sharply declining and we expect that there will be some shakeout in this segment. We should all strongly support and try to attend the Major events such as the SOS and the Tulsa Shows. We hope that this situation will allow some of the other collecting organizations and promoters to focus on quality and not the frequency of their shows.