By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Region – Building on the success of Watermark Antiques, owner Mark Alzapiedi opened Bay State Gun Buyers about eight years ago, on the lower level of the former 1860s schoolhouse in West Boylston where Watermark’s showroom is located.
“I had always been a collector,” Alzapiedi said, “so it was a natural progression.”
Bay State Gun Buyers buys and sells all types of firearms, including handguns, pistols, revolvers, rifles, shotguns and sporting rifles – both vintage and contemporary.
To be able to become a dealer, he went through the lengthy and involved process to obtain both federal and state licenses.
“It was a two- to three-year process,” Alzapiedi explained. “It is very difficult to get this type of license in Massachusetts. It is one of the toughest states in the country along with New York and California. There is a very thorough background check.”
It helped, he said, that he had already established himself with Watermark Antiques.
“We had a great reputation,” he noted, which made it easier when working with local officials.
Now, Bay State Gun Buyers is building its own reputation for its knowledgeable appraisals and for offering the customer the best value for their pieces.
“We pay top dollar,” Alzapiedi said. “There is always a standing offer and never any pressure to sell.”
Bay State Gun Buyers retains a smaller percentage of the value than most dealers, according to the owner.
“That’s why we do so well,” he said. “We are super competitive pricewise.”
Often, he said, customers will come back after shopping around.
“About 80 percent sell on the spot,” he noted. “Of the 20 percent that don’t, about 15 percent end up coming back.”
Alzapiedi has more than 20 years’ experience in buying and selling new and used firearms, including brands such as Colt, Ruger, Beretta, Glock, Marlin, Winchester, Weatherby, Mossberg, Remington, Smith & Wesson, SIG Sauer, Taurus and Walther.
One of the most unique guns to come through the shop was an 1886 Winchester rifle, brought in by a woman who had inherited it.
“When she brought it in, I couldn’t believe it,” Alzapiedi recalled. “My jaw hit the ground. That doesn’t happen very often.”
He now has the rifle in his own personal collection.
While buying and owning guns is a controversial topic, Alzapiedi maintains that because of its strict guidelines, the industry is well regulated. In fact, he said, dealers such as Bay State Gun Buyers can even help keep unregistered guns out of circulation.
“When older folks bring in guns to sell that are not in the system, we register them,” he explained. “That way they are traceable if they are lost, stolen or used in a crime.”
In addition, Bay State Gun Buyers does not sell any firearms through the door. All of their sales are carried out online. Firearms are shipped to other licensed dealers who conduct background checks on buyers from their state.
To see Bay State Gun Buyers’ inventory, visit www.gunsamerica.com. Click “Advanced Search”; enter “01583” in the zip code area; and click on “Auctions by Bay State Gun Buyers.”