Reina P. Cunningham
For over two decades, Mike Bussell has been serving the Tri-State area to meet the residents’ gun and ammunition needs.
In recognition of his service, Mike’s Gun Shop was nominated and selected as this week’s Surviving the Hard Times series.
What started out as a small business in the garage of his home, has turned into a flourishing company. Currently there are three stores in two states.
In the eighties, Bussell began the business as more of a hobby in the garage of his home. He started selling guns to be able to purchase guns for his own collection.
Once Bussell saw the interest from members of the community, he decided it was time to expand.
In 1990, Bussell rented a store in the Dogwood Heights area and started serving customers from Kentucky and Virginia, in addition to new and former customers of his hometown. A short time later, Bussell decided he needed to expand again to meet customer demand. Sales were doubling every six months. So, he purchased a building at 1812 North Broad Street in Tazewell, Tenn. The shop still calls this location home. A few more years passed and Bussell again decided he needed to expand, again to meet customers’ needs. This time, he crossed the state line to better serve his Kentucky clients. Five years ago, he opened a store at 222 North 19th Street in Middlesboro. The Middlesboro store was opened originally just to handle transfers, but it now is a complete shop where customers can take care of all of their gun and ammunition needs. The Kentucky store was not the last of expansions Busssell would make. Two years ago, he opened a store in Morristown, Tenn., at 422 North Cumberland Street.
The building Bussell purchased in Morristown contains three shops. He currently rents one of the shops, houses his third gun shop in one and plans to further expand his business in the remaining shop. Bussell plans on using that shop for inventory and to be the hub for his future online sales division. Bussell said he is grateful for his customers, saying they are the main reason he has been able to continue to grow his once small business into the thriving business it is. “Without our customers, we wouldn’t have any sales,” said Bussell. Bussell pointed out that his business is unique when it comes to the economy because a bad economy stimulates gun sales. “A bad economy is good for gun stores,” explained Bussell. “We had the busiest year we have ever had this past year.” He also acknowledged the ongoing political debates about stricter gun control laws cause an influx in customer purchases.
“If people think they are going to ban a certain gun, they are going to buy more of them,” said Bussell. Ammunition is also affected by consumer reactions to possibly legal changes, but Bussell says his stores are keeping up with demand. “We are not getting as much ammo as we need,” said Bussell. “We’re getting a lot of ammo in, but we could use more.” He can be reached at 423-626-4323, 606-248-7071 or on Facebook at Mike’s Gun Shop.
To nominate a long-standing locally owned business to be featured in Surviving the Hard Times, contact Reina Parker Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.