|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Tyler Whidby, owner of TW Firearms in downtown Leesburg, stands beside some of his inventory of firearms and ammunition in his small shop that’s been open since last August.|
It all started with purchasing gun ammunition for their local Izaac Walton League.
Now, Tyler Whidby and Clyde Coble have created a small business, TW Firearms on South King Street in Leesburg.
“To buy ammo for the club we had to build a business entity, so we did that,” Whidby said. “People started asking us, 'well if you can get ammo, can you get clays' and so then we started buying clays for the club.
“Then we started selling clays on the side for cheap and people started asking about getting guns too,” Whidby said.
The men hoped to start selling guns to friends and family, but county zoning regulations forbid it, forcing them to buy commercial space.
Whidby and Coble realized they would have to start selling to customers to cover the rent.
Whidby and Coble are shooting enthusiasts and retired military veterans. Whidby is a disabled vet and Coble is a retired Fairfax firefighter.
The men have built their business with the consumers best interests in mind. They started it because they were unhappy with the current gun shops in Loudoun County.
“We were not satisfied by the service and pricing in Loudoun County,” Whidby said. “Service was the biggest [problem] because we realized there was a big gap in Loudoun County that everyone complained about and we went after that little niche.”
That gap has been filled by the company's personalized firearm service platform.
“We try to deal with each customer one-on-one. It is not like walking into Wal-Mart and browsing a glass case and picking a gun at random,” Whidby said. “Customers come in here and we give personal service and find out what your goals are, what you are looking for and the right product match.
“The new shooter community comes in and says, 'well I saw online,' and we want to know if you have you ever touched it and we really want to find out what they need,” Whidby said. “A lot of people come in here and a lot of what they know has been learned online, so we educate them and that is more important to us than getting a bigger sale.”
The company can also customize a gun for any customer, particularly with the popular AR rifle platform, which has been in high demand during the last several months.
TW Firearms prides itself on offering the best prices for both guns and ammunition.
The company has been able to maintain that philosophy under the pressure of recent gun legislation, which in turn made the pricing market on ammunition and guns explode.
In addition to competing for customers with local shops like Loudoun Guns and Purcellville Guns, TW Firearms is in constant competition with shops in Fredericksburg and Pennsylvania.
“We also get calls from California, Texas and places like that, but our direct competition is obviously Loudoun and Purcellville Guns,” Whidby said.
He hopes the company's philosophy of best prices and customer service will pay off with providing return customers.
“You are not going to make a business off of one-time sales. You've got to have repeat customers and service is a major component of that idea,” Whidby said. “Why take advantage of people in a situation? They will remember us a year from now and remember we treated them well.”
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