A Merrimack gun shop that hit the national spotlight after a Merrimack resident complained about signs in the window depicting President Barack Obama as gun salesman of the year has moved up the road to a bigger location with more parking.
Collectable Arms & Ammo, which has been located in the Galaxy Gas plaza for nearly two years, has moved about a half mile up the road to the old S&P Mart next to Walgreens near Exit 12.
Collectable Arms & Ammo Owner Keith Cox said last week the move became necessary as they've outgrown the space in the gas station plaza.
“We want a more comfortable shopping experience for our customers,” Cox said.
The new show room is 9 or 10 times the size of the old one and there is more storage and much more parking.
Only having a couple parking spaces became a big issue as business grew, Cox said, and if they ended up with 10 people in the store at once, it was nearly impossible to move.
But all that changed on Friday when he picked up a moving truck, loaded it up and hauled the contents of the store to their new location at 619 Daniel Webster Highway.
With the extra space comes a bit of rebranding on the face of the store. Cox said the sign on the store will say 619 DW Guns & Ammo, though technically they will still be Collectable Arms & Ammo.
Cox said it's a bit of a misnomer for people who drive by and think they only sell collectible firearms, when really they sell firearms of all shapes and sizes for all different purposes.
He said the store brings in a lot of first-time gun buyers as well as a good crop of collectors who come in looking for specific items.
And they have a little of everything, from contemporary firearms to World War I and II general issue guns that were used in combat to rare pieces like the Savage .45, which was being considered for use WWI but was not picked.
They also sell ammo, accessories and on Thursday, one man who came in to browse left with a small print of the Firearm Salesman of the Year poster that Cox had made up after a heavy call for them in March.
Cox said the first two years in the Galaxy Gas plaza has been good for the business, having people stopping to fill up at a gas station helped to get them noticed and Cox said the attention that suddenly bubbled up over the window dressings in March didn't hurt.
One sign in the windows depicted Obama as “Firearms Salesman of the Year,” while the other pictured Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Josef Stalin with the phrase “All the experts agree, gun control works.”
Cox said what started as a story about a man in town who found the signs offensive turned into an enormous outpouring of support from people all over the country.
He received hundreds of emails and phone calls a day from all around the country, the conversation on his Facebook page went wild and people locally flocked to the store to check out what they have for sale and even if they couldn't afford a new firearm, they bought ammo from him to support the shop.
“Locally the support was amazing,” Cox said.
He said he did have one woman who came into the shop after the story hit newspapers, TV stations and websites, who chewed him out and called him racist.
But it's not about being racist or even an attempt to be disrespectful, Cox said. It's about the message that because of Obama policies that gun sales have gone through the roof, he said, calling it an “unprecedented time” to own a gun shop.
“It's bittersweet, because as good as it is to be in firearms sales right now, I would trade it all to have a government that's not calling for my Constitutional rights to be trampled on,” Cox said.
Cox said he and his business partner will not only keep those window dressings up at the new shop, but they plan to expand their message, too, with windows dedicated to Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He's also changed the Obama sign to read "Firearm salesman of all time. Over 75 million served."
“I'm not trying specifically to offend anyone,” Cox said, “But at the same time, there's a message here. … Government is trying too hard to get into our lives and we can't let that happen.”
Cox and his business partner bought the property at 619 Daniel Webster Highway and he says he hopes the extra exposure, where it sits right across from where drivers from the Everett Turnpike enter Daniel Webster Highway at Exit 12, will be even better for business.
As for him, he joked that he's looking forward to a less crowded space where he and his business partner are not constantly bumping into one another behind the counter.
“This should be a great location for the gun owners of New Hampshire to come visit us.”