Business owners say panic buying and food shortage led to an increase in sales of firearms and meat cuts.
Arizona Law Dawgs and The Box Meat Shop have seen their businesses impacted by consumers worried about what is to come from the spread of COVID-19. The two storefronts, which are next to each other on Hathaway Avenue, have seen lines of customers outside their doors every morning for the past week.
Both shops cite COVID-19 fears and ripple effects for their increase in sales.
Arizona Law Dawgs is a firearm and tactical-weapons shop that has been owned by John Callaway II and his wife Jennifer for seven years.
“It’s panic. They’re panic-buying,” Callaway said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen next. Some of the other states are experiencing people getting robbed.”
Jennifer Callaway agreed COVID-19 was driving an uptick in customers, something she has never seen before in the business over seven years of operation.
“They’re concerned about somebody kicking in their door,” Jennifer said, “and they want to be ready.”
The average number of customers the store is seeing per day has doubled since the beginning of the week.
“The past couple of days have had us wiped out,” said Anthony, a long-time employee of Arizona Law Dawgs. Anthony chose to withhold his last name from publication.
Anthony has worked the counter with customers all week, describing it as, “wild,” saying patience goes a long way in the store.
“I had one guy who was a little impatient. He started yelling at me and wanting to come in and get out with a firearm,” Anthony said. “I had to tell him, yelling at me is not going to speed the process up at all. He has to respect the process and have patience when we’re already overwhelmed.”
There has been a shortage of multiple handguns, including 9mm and 10mm, and background checks have had trouble running. Earlier in the week, the store had to close early due to an issue with running background checks.
“The system is overwhelmed with the amount of people buying nationwide. So, you might get people who could normally proceed, but they just get delayed because it’s backed up,” Jennifer Callaway said.
Wait times for a pending background check can take as long as four days.
In the store, there have been shortages of almost all ammo, including 9mm, .223 rem, 5.56 mm, .38 special and .357 magnum.
“My distributors are five to six days behind,” Callaway said. “Supply chains are out of stock. I do sales online; I’ve had to refund three of them because product just sold too quickly. [Restocking] has been a never-ending battle. I tried to stay ahead of the curve, and starting yesterday the curve got heavy. It’s challenging to me because I always want to succeed and it feels like I failed a little because I can’t keep up with the demand of the customers.”
The Callaway’s are encouraging people to come in to the store to get the most up-to-date grasp on what is available in the store at any time.
“The money is good now, but what’s going to happen when all this is over? Everybody has their firearms and their ammo, we’re going to see a decrease in sales.” Jennifer said.
Meanwhile, next door at The Box Meat Shop, the year-old storefront fills in the gaps where other stores have run out of food due to so-called panic-buying. Karen Pozzolo works in the store, owned by her husband Luis.
“Customers are coming from everywhere, all over Maricopa, outside of Maricopa, a lot of new customers,” Pozzolo said. “It’s to be expected because there is no meat in town, so we’re the only ones who have anything to buy for everybody.”
The shop now sees a line out the door every morning at opening.
According to Belen Pozzolo, Karen and Luis’ daughter, there have been nearly four times the normal number of customers purchasing meats, also beginning early in the past week.
“I feel like my parents are just trying to be nice because they know what it’s like to have to struggle. So they would rather help other people in this situation,” Belen said.
The Box Meat Shop has seen business go up in a positive way because they are able to provide food for the community without worries of distributors running low, according to Pozzolo. The store is restocked two to three times a day as needed. So far, there have been no issues in restocking for the shop.
“Yes, we’re having good business, but it’s a good feeling to provide for everybody,” Pozzolo said. “Some people don’t have anything, some mothers are working all day and they don’t have time to go and get some meat, so we’re here for everybody.”
Pozzolo said prices are expected to go up slightly for meats starting Monday.
Arizona Law Dawgs is not expecting their prices to go up on anything in the store as of now.
“Those of the people that bought guns, be safe.” John said, “Remember the basic gun rules. If you’re going to buy a firearm, it’s a tool and you have to know how to use that tool. A lot of people who have purchased out of fear need to get training and learn how to use a firearm correctly.”