Jim’s Firearms, Inc.: A firearms store on a mission: Making customers comfortable

Jim’s Firearms, Inc.: A firearms store on a mission: Making customers comfortable

AT A GLANCE

Primary product/service: RETAIL SALES OF FIREARMS, FULL-LINE GUNSMITHING, TEACHING SAFETY AND CCW CLASSES

Top local executive: JIM McCLAIN

No. of local employees: 19

Year founded: 1992

Web site: WWW.jimsfirearmsinc.com

Phone: (225) 293-5467

Fax: (225) 293-1490

Jim McClain doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who runs one of the largest independent firearms retail stores in the United States. As he swivels in his chair and talks about his desire to educate children about the importance of gun safety, he seems more like a noble scout leader than a successful businessman.

Just 15 short years ago, McClain wasn’t sure about what he was going to do to support his family. Today, the 42-yearold’s approachable and relaxed demeanor is the product of an adult life spent working around weapons. It all started at a store called the Bullet Shop, where McClain hung around so much that the owner finally gave him a chance to go to work. He left there to work at the Firing Line, which became Precision Firearms, the indoor firing range. Shortly after his stint at Precision, a determined McClain entered the business world on his own, armed with only a $20,000 loan and a 1,250-square-foot store.

In the early days, when it was just McClain and one employee, his company did $30,000 a month. Today, it’s doing a brisk half a million a month with nothing but more growth in the future. In 2002, McClain moved the store out of its cramped space across Siegen Lane and into a veritable gun lover’s paradise, where more than 4,000 guns are on display and 8,000 are in stock at any given time. But don’t expect to find a lot of extra sportsman’s gear in the new, 14,500-squarefoot Jim’s Firearms. There’s no fishing gear or camping gearjust guns, ammo, holsters and other directly related merchandise.

“We’re a true firearms store. But we don’t just cater to professional gun enthusiasts. When someone comes into my store, I want them to feel comfortable with their purchase, whether they’re a novice or a professional,” says McClain.

He strives to set himself apart from increasing competition from hunting and fishing megastores by providing top-notch service. This focus made Jim’s Firearms a store on a mission during the Baton Rouge serial killer episode and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when people were clamoring for selfprotection. McClain’s staff taught women to defend themselves from serial killers, and when everyone else was closed, Jim’s Firearms was supplying everyone from the Department of Homeland Security to the New Orleans Police Department with the gear they needed.

McClain admits that providing this service level is tougher than it once was. Managing 19 employees and such a large inventory keeps him from having the same time to spend with each customer. But he knows it is his effort to maintain a high standard of service that keeps customers coming back. He also admits that he has another Baton Rouge landmark retailer in mind when he comes to work in the morning.

“When I was a kid, my dad and I would go to the downtown Steinberg’s,” he notes. “I always wanted to have a place like that for families to bring their kids, because I always felt comfortable in that store.”

Has Jim’s Firearms reached that level yet? McClain answers the question with one of his own. “When you set your goal that high, can you ever really get it there in your own mind? Probably not. But everyday I try.”

Copyright Greater Baton Rouge Business Report Apr 10, 2007

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