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SANBORN—Chris Mazur has had his sights set on opening a gun store for years and accomplished that goal earlier this year in Sanborn.
The 44-year-old is the owner of Iowa Armory, a firearms and ammunition shop located at the southwest corner of highways 59 and 18.
The store opened July 23, although Mazur founded the company last November shortly after he and his family relocated to the O’Brien County community from Montana.
“It’s kind of been a plan for four or five years to open a gun store of my own and just took multiple other circumstances to lead up to where we are,” Mazur said.
He received his license to sell firearms in February. Initially, he worked out of his home before moving into the retail site at 707 E. Seventh St., which used to house T Berry’s Diner.
The store stocks a variety of guns — rifles, shotguns and pistols — that also range in price.
“I have people that want $200 guns, so I have $200 guns. I have people that want $1,400 rifles, so I’ve got $1,400 rifles,” Mazur said.
The store also sells ammunition, targets, eye- and ear-safety equipment and knives.
Mazur said business has been steady since opening, but he’s always eager for new people to walk through the doors.
Besides browsing the selection of firearms at the physical store, customers can visit the “Gallery of Guns” page at Iowa Armory’s website to see what guns Mazur’s distributors have in stock. They can then order an item to be shipped to the store for pickup.
Iowa Armory also sells through the gun auction website, gunbroker.com. Firearms bought through that site are likewise shipped to dealers with a Federal Firearms License for customer pickup.
“It’s like any other purchase: You go in there, you purchase your item and do your background check and if all else is good, you go home that day with a firearm,” Mazur said.
His interest in guns stretches back to the mid-1990s when he first became interested in hunting.
“I just loved it, loved going out to the range site with the rifles getting ready for hunting season. It kind of just stayed at that level for a couple years, then I joined the military and got acquainted with more firearms,” he said.
He served in the U.S. Army 2003-10, during which time he completed two tours of Iraq with the First Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Lewis, WA. He was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division as a mortuary affairs noncommissioned officer.
After Mazur returned to civilian life, recreational shooting continued to be a passion of his. He later worked for a gun dealer in Montana and decided he eventually would like to become a licensed dealer himself.
Mazur and his family were familiar with N’West Iowa from visiting his father, who has lived in Sanborn the past 25 years, which factored into his decision to set up shop in the community.
One service Iowa Armory does not provide is gun repairs, although Mazur said he is looking to bring on a gunsmith and has extra space in the back of the store to accommodate such work.
“It’s kind of a dying trade. There aren’t a ton of people that want to be gunsmiths anymore — at least not that I’m running into,” Mazur said. “Where we moved from in Montana. I knew half a dozen gunsmiths. Here I know one.”
In the meantime, however, he looks forward to meeting new customers and growing the business as much as he can in the coming years.
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