If all goes as planned South Whidbey residents looking for a rifle or handgun won’t have to go to Oak Harbor or the mainland.
Whidbey Arms is opening at Ken’s Korner Mall under the ownership of Freeland resident Jim Childers.
“We’ll be opening Wednesday or Thursday,” he said as workers pieced together display cases, furniture and the security system.
Marius Artis from Whidbey Telecom was wiring the security system, an essential item for a store that sells weapons.
“Very, very,” Artis answered when asked if the store would be secure. “There’s not a spot you can step without setting off a motion (detector).”
“Or from the ceiling,” added Childers, who’s ready for anything, even something like a Tom Cruise-like descent from the ceiling to grab a gun. With Childers’ system, even Cruise couldn’t escape unnoticed.
Live cameras will record everything going on, day and night, and store the images at a separate location, making pulling off a successful burglary virtually a mission impossible.
In terms of timing, Childers could have done better than pick a period when the entire nation is caught up in an emotional gun control debate, but Childers is undaunted, anxious to move his online business indoors.
For the past year Whidbey Arms has sold guns online. Purchasers have to go to a federally licensed firearms dealer to pick up their weapons. He’s also sold at gun shows in Monroe and Puyallup, but this is his first retail shop.
Whidbey Arms is located in the space recently vacated by Richard “Woody” Woodham, whose Workwear Jeans store had been a mall mainstay for a couple of decades. Right across the hallway is Island Drug.
Whidbey Arms will feature rifles, shotguns and handguns, including major brands and lesser known brands such as Rainier Arms and Windham. “There’s nothing cheap,” he said of the overall quality.
The closest thing he’ll have to a so-called assault weapon is the AR-15, a semi-automatic with a magazine that holds 30 bullets, caliber .223. He won’t be selling magazines with more than 30 bullets, calling that “overkill.”
People who buy such guns often use them to hunt coyotes in Eastern Washington or wild hogs in the south, he said.
The store will also offer non-lethal self defense devices such as pepper spray and Tasers, as well as an assortment of other stuff like metal wildlife art, shirts, hats, hoodies, camping gear and occasionally fishing gear, depending on the season.