Until recently, perhaps the closest store specializing in firearms and hunting supplies was in New Ulm.
When that store closed, it created a empty space in the Redwood area market for hunters and firearms enthusiasts.
Steve Anderson of Redwood Falls, along with children Zach Anderson and Heather Koffler, thought maybe they could fill it.
“We’d been talking about opening a store of our own sometime, and we thought it might be the time,” Steve said.
Although the lack of a closer store was the jumping off point, Heather had her own reason for wanting to be part.
“It’s been a passion of mine to get more women involved in this sport,” said Heather.
“There’s one issue with being a woman who likes firearms; there’s not a lot of products and services out there that are designed to work well for women.
“This has become my mission. I want to make sure that at River Valley Arms and Ammo, women have access locally to products and services that make being a sportswoman even more fun.”
Thus River Valley Arms and Ammo was created, currently based in Steve’s home just off Highway 19/71, at the top of the Morton hill.
Starting a firearms store isn’t quite like starting a store that sells anything else.
“We’re regulated at each level: federal, state, county, and city,” said Heather. “There are lots of little rules you have to follow with ever transaction, but this is above and beyond your other business transactions.”
“We started applying for a federal firearms license last January — lots of paperwork, lots of fingerprints, extensive background checks,” said Steve.
Among the many, many other regulations, Heather said, “We can’t visit (clients) in their homes. We have to have all transactions here out of our business address, or at gun shows.”
However, they are looking into the possibility of going into mail order sales.
Steve said, “Our initial discussion was to do a lot on the Internet, but we need to see the level of interest.”
Zach said, “At our physical store, we can compete with anyone, but Internet sales have a different profit margin.”
In other words, if you want the lowest possible price, there are a million stores all competing with each other on the Internet. If you want good service, you need to drive down to a local store.
“Also, with shipping, you have additional costs and much more red tape,” said Heather.
Another benefit of shopping locally is that Redwood Valley Arms and Ammo items by local vendors such as Logos Leathercraft and Opie’s Heavy Metal, LLC.
Page 2 of 2 - “With any retail store, you have a huge up-front investment,” said Heather.
Currently, Redwood Valley Arms and Ammo carries all varieties of firearms, accessaries, and apparel, and is hoping there’s enough demand in the area to grow.
“Our end vision is our own store on our property, with a highway (facing) front,” said Zach.
River Valley Arms and Ammo also offers a variety of firearms training courses.
Zach and Heather are NRA-certified instructors, chief range safety officers, and MN permit-to-carry instructors.
In addition to both group and one-on-one lessons, Koffler offers women-only courses for those who might feel more comfortable learning that way.
For more information, call 507-829-2439, or visit the website at www.rivervalleyarms.com