Taking over, planning for growth
By MIKE CORN
ALTON -- Don't be surprised to see a pistol strapped to Brice Ballard's waist when you enter the otherwise nondescript metal building not far off the community's main street.
Of course, you'd almost be surprised if he doesn't have one.
In a shop that contains thousands of guns, you'd expect its owner to be packing.
Ballard is buying the thriving business from his father, longtime Bull City Gun Shop owner Roy Ballard.
"I started buying him out a little over two years ago," Ballard said.
Don't let its location fool you though, it's a powerhouse in the Kansas gun industry business.
"We're up there," Ballard said of being one of the largest gun dealers in the state. "We've got one of the largest inventories ... at least in the western part of the state."
Never mind Alton barely can crack the century mark in terms of population.
In operation now for 13 years, Ballard said the shop started with just 18 used guns in inventory.
Today, that number -- of used guns alone -- likely tops 100.
"Over the 13 years, we've come up to somewhere between 2,500 to 3,500 guns in here," he said.
And the ammunition to go along with it all.
"We've been stocked up for quite some time," Ballard said, although he admits some pistol ammo became troublesome to obtain.
"We try to be as complete as possible," he said of what the Bull City Gun Shop offers the shooter.
Being the biggest in the western part of the state just isn't enough for Ballard.
"My goal is to be the biggest in the state," he said.
He's already carrying some of the biggest and most popular guns on the market, including Browning, Winchester, Kimber and Benelli. There's also Mossberg, Ruger, and Smith and Wesson.
"We try to keep a good mix," he said of the rifles, shotguns and pistols he carries.
The store draws people from across Kansas, including people from Hays.
"We have guys come in all the time, and it's like a candy store," Ballard said of what they offer. "We have guys that come in all the time, and they're like, 'You're kidding me.'
"We always say if you don't see it out front, it might be in the back."