If you know of brick and mortar stores that you can work well with, that can be a good thing.
I do not own a gun store, so I may just be ignorant on the specifics. But, if the online price is below the retailer's cost, couldn't they just sell you the gun that is sitting in their display case and then immediately order it from that same online retailer to restock their inventory? Net effect, they still have the same quantity of that gun in their inventory, and there is no cost to them other than the time needed to complete the paperwork, etc. I am assuming that they would still charge the consumer all of the sales tax, and the price match would include any shipping costs.
For my fellow accountants out there, I understand that they would likely have an accounting loss, depending on the inventory method they use (FIFO vs LIFO), but that is not a real economic loss, and if anything, the tax loss would be beneficial.
And yes, I agree that for the consumer, it can be very worthwhile to have good relationships with a couple B&M retailers. I am just questioning why the retailers are not interested in investing 15 minutes of their time to develop a relationship. I am certainly willing to invest that amount of time on my end as the consumer.
I think there are a lot of small B&M retailers (of all types) out there who are struggling to cope with the shift toward internet based commerce. B&M locations need to add value above and beyond merely providing something that can easily be ordered online. It makes sense for them to start by thinking about things that you cannot get online, or where the online cost is prohibitive for some reason. For firearms, this might be a shooting range, rental guns, gunsmithing services (cost of shipping a gun to somewhere out of town is crazy), training, etc. We are quickly getting to the point where a small B&M retailer is not going to be able to survive by merely providing common goods for sale.