By Slim Randles
The sign in front of the gas station says “Unleaded, 2.39, special on Colt .357 Magnum, six-inch barrel.”
Visitors here in the valley do a double take when they see Vince’s sign there at what we all know as “the gas station gun shop.” That’s because Vince doesn’t believe in being deprived of his passion while earning a living. His passion: guns. His living: pumping gas.
We had all known of his passion for many years. He is the perennial president of the local rod and gun club, plans nearly all their annual spaghetti feeds to raise money for targets. If you want to go hunting, all you need to do is pull up in front of Vince’s house on the edge of town with some hounds in the back of the truck in the evening and honk the horn. You don’t even need to call ahead.
The combination business began about three years ago when an out-of-town customer pulled up to the gas pumps, walked inside to pay Vince, and saw the owner sitting there polishing a 1911 Government Model .45 auto.
CPR wasn’t necessary, but it did give Vince some thinking to do.
“I looked around in here,” he said, “and saw all this wall space. What did I have on it? Fan belts, stacks of motor oil containers, those little air fresheners shaped like pine trees. What a waste! So I put that stuff out in the repair side of the station and nailed up this knotty pine. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?
“Then I got my federal firearms license, bought a bunch of ammunition and some guns, and set it up.”
He says he’s always sure to put a gun ad up on the big white sign, along with the gas prices, so people won’t be surprised when they walk in and find him cleaning a Model 70 behind the counter.
“I actually do okay in the gun business here,” he said. “It isn’t enough to be a gun shop on its own, really. We aren’t a big enough town.”
And then he grinned and said, “And I’ve never been held up.”
Hunter in the family? “Backpocket Guide to Hunting Elk” by Slim Randles. On Amazon.com.