Terre Haute Gun Shops
When tasked with visiting Terre Haute gun shops to find out about local gun-carrying Americana, I felt like a kid in a candy shop! Nothing could be better than looking at guns for hours. I’ve often perused the city’s firearms dealers as a prospective customer or, more commonly, as a cure for boredom.
In the United States, firearms cannot be purchased online. Guns must be shipped to a licensed dealer where the sale takes place as if the dealer were selling his or her own wares. In the digital age, gun shops are some of the few retailers not in a losing battle with Internet vendors. You might say guns are the last bastion of the bricks and mortar business model. We pick up both guns and butter locally.
Terre Haute has four locally owned gun shops. Favre’s is, rather predictably, owned by a fellow named Favre, but that doesn’t make it easy to locate the place, whose sign, bearing a picture of a large revolver, is nearly a block away. Turning from Fruitridge Ave. at the sign, one must drive aimlessly around dead-end side streets, and aimless isn’t your first choice when you’re looking for guns. Favre’s is in a nondescript white building with a small gravel parking lot where weeds threaten the crooked concrete parking bumpers. The door opens to a sleepy, dusty atmosphere bearing signs of two and a half decades of slow yet steady business. A rack of long guns in various conditions is behind the counter; over to the right a pair of lathes, a Bridgeport mill and other gunsmith’s trappings indicate Favre’s fills the gun repair niche in the Valley.
Customers at the moment of my arrival are a young man in a “D.O.C” shirt and an older gentleman in a Securitas uniform. A perfectly friendly lady, who I take to be the proprietor’s wife, waits on me. She is patient and informative as I ask her to hand me one gun after another. I’m looking for a small gun for a female friend living in a big city. Mrs. Favre (presumably) offers sound advice, and agrees with my comments as my firearm knowledge becomes apparent. Customers at Favre’s seem to be mainly experienced gun owners who enjoy the company and laid-back conversation of the proprietors. Favre’s is a true “mom ‘n’ pop” gun shop.
Patriot Arms on Maple Ave is small but mighty and sits in a paved concrete lot. A sharp, friendly fellow named Cass immediately greets me. The fifteen-foot square interior includes an impressive offering of historic military pieces. Ammunition belts and artillery shells are hanging on the walls. Cass is quite congenial, and we have a spirited conversation about guns. I feel it is unlikely that he deals with many first-time gun buyers. The selection of defensive and hunting weapons is too limited to make Patriot an attractive option for customers looking to “try on” guns to see which fits best. As I leave after a full three quarters of an hour (and as the only customer during that period), a large anthropomorphic worm catches my eye. Yes, says Cass, Patriot is the only gun shop in town selling fishing equipment.[Not a valid template]
Wabash Valley Armory, on south 7th, operates under the glare of bright fluorescent lights – a cold sterile atmosphere with hundreds and hundreds of guns laid out in glass cases. The shop seems to cater mainly to the military/law enforcement and self-defense crowd, with so-called “assault weapons” and combat handguns. The men staffing the place bear an excellent knowledge of firearms. Their friendly yet cool attitude matches the bright white ambiance of the store. For these men, guns are probably tools of the trade. A certain lack of zeal in the sales pitch indicates that the staff expects their customers already know what they’re looking for, so the guns will sell themselves.
Top Guns is an enormous three-year-old gun shop that has quadrupled in size from a small space packed with cutting-edge tactical weaponry to a pair of adjacent stalls in Ellis Plaza at 7th St. and Route 41. Throngs of men, women and children, some in pink and green camo jackets, populate the warmly lit and spacious business, talking excitedly and shopping as only Americans can. Heavy steel bars behind the windows serve as a reminder of the type of goods sold here, which is easy to forget in an atmosphere that’s more Best Buy than bullets. Top Guns is undeniably the everyman’s gun shop ‘round these parts.
Smartly dressed employees rush to help customers, many of whom are completely unfamiliar with the world of guns that seems implicitly understood at Terre Haute’s other three local shops. Don, who has waited on me before, confidently offers his opinion on a small defensive pistol, and brings another unoccupied employee into the conversation.
We quickly pare the list of practical options through a process of elimination. I get the feeling that these salesmen go through this exact process dozens of times a day.
Deadly weapons and the familiar American retail environment may be an alarming juxtaposition to some, but Top Gun’s employees seem eager to guide first-timers to wise choices and responsible firearm use.
With Favre’s, Patriot Arms, Wabash Valley Armory and, Top Guns, Terre Haute gun buyers have choices beyond national chains and gun shows. They can keep and bear arms with the good feeling that comes from buying local.
Downtown Tabby Comments on Terre Haute Christmas Wishes
No Comments | Dec 18, 2014
Farrington Grove Chorale: All Natural
No Comments | May 25, 2014
Life is a Dream Does Not Move Merrily
No Comments | Oct 27, 2013
ISU Homecoming 2013: Part Three
No Comments | Oct 15, 2013
About The Author
Lucinda Berry was born in Terre Haute, got a B.A. in English from Indiana State University, studied in Oxford, England, and worked in Shimonoseki, Japan and traveled a good deal in Asia, got an M.A. in Linguistics from Indiana University, and eventually ended up back in Terre Haute. Her favorite place in Terre Haute is the Swope Art Museum. If she happened to be there when a fire broke out, she would rush to save Jack Levine’s “A Joy Forever.”
Oddly 2 other great shops in Terre Haute werent even mentioned. My personal favorite is Terre Haute Guns, and my second choice, Carson Arms. In my humble opinion these 2 shops have better prices and service than the 4 shops mentioned in the article.