What started out four years ago as a home-based hobby for Fred and Jennifer Smith, owners of Fred’s Firearms, has turned into a full-fledged, thriving business prompting the husband and wife duo to open a storefront on West F Street in Randy Plaza.
“We’ve grown to the point where we needed a storefront,” Fred Smith said. “The inventory was taking over the home. I love guns and I’m passionate about guns. I learn something new every day. I love this country we live in, that we have the Second Amendment.”
Fred added, “My favorite gun is the AR15. I’ve been using it since I was 17. My favorite gun, pistol-wise is an American-made 1911.”
Fred, who comes from a long line of Frederick Smiths, served in the military like his father before him and later went into law enforcement, lending a gun-friendly environment to his childhood and adult life. Although no longer on active duty with the Marine Corps, Smith remains a reservist with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department as well as works security for Lawrence Livermore Lab.
However, since starting his “hobby,” business has simply exploded and he’s excited to see where it can go now that he has a dedicated store front.
“We work with multiple law enforcement agencies,” Fred said. “My connections definitely helped grow the business. We’ve got a pretty good clientele basis.”
While gun enthusiasts are always good customers, Fred and Jennifer have discovered a new kind of buyer walking through their doors and they suspect the economy has something to do with it.
“Senior citizens who have never owned a gun before in their lives are coming in for a gun,” Fred said. “We have less cops on the street, longer response times for law enforcement and they want that gun just in case they have to defend themselves.”
Of course, the people who own guns, want more guns, added Fred.
“Right now, it’s a thriving market. The gun manufacturers are always coming up with new products.”
And guns are no longer simply a man’s sport. In fact, women are quickly becoming an increasing demographic in the gun market, which is why Fred and Jennifer make sure to stock guns and apparel that will appeal to both sexes.
There’s even a pink gun in the case, similar to what Jennifer has in her own collection.
The gun-loving duo landed in Riverbank initially but later moved to Oakdale because Jennifer is Mustang-born and bred.
Fred was happy to adopt the town as his new home base, saying, “Most people in Oakdale are gun enthusiasts. It’s a good place to have a gun store.”
Fred’s father, Frederick Smith, IV, said, “It’s a daring venture to open a business in today’s economy but in this business you have to have customer service and they (Fred and Jennifer) are the epitome.”
And quality customer service is something they pride themselves on.
“We want our customers to feel comfortable and secure; not intimidated. When your customers are happy they’re going to advertise for you,” Fred said. “We’re going to tailor a customer’s gun purchase to their individual needs. Sometimes people aren’t sure what they want so sometimes finding out their needs is what we do first. There are so many different calibers that you need the right tool for the right job.”
Of course, as a gun shop, extra precautions have been taken to prevent theft, such as one entrance and exit, reinforced bars on the windows, wall sensors and several surveillance cameras that are running 24/7 as well as alarms that are wired to alert both Fred and the police department in the event of a trip.
“We’re taking as many precautions as we can,” Fred said.
He also teaches a handgun safety certificate course and as a certified instructor, can issue the certificate, which allows people to buy one handgun a month.
The class is $25 and takes about 25-30 minute to complete and lasts up to five years. Renewing is only $15.
Fred’s Firearms is also located online with a full line of products; the physical storefront location is 807 W. F St. in Oakdale. For the time being they will be open for limited hours.
For more information, call Fred’s Firearms at 209-322-3730; or online at http://fredsfirearms.com/