The Careful Carnivore

Retail gap filled by a new gun shop in Port Townsend

Beth Kennedy
Posted 1/8/20

In Jefferson County, there are places to purchase ammunition, gun cleaning supplies and some accessories at general stores like Henery Hardware or Olympic Equipment Rental in Port Hadlock. We have a …

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The Careful Carnivore

Retail gap filled by a new gun shop in Port Townsend

Posted

In Jefferson County, there are places to purchase ammunition, gun cleaning supplies and some accessories at general stores like Henery Hardware or Olympic Equipment Rental in Port Hadlock. We have a skilled gunsmith at Armspro in Port Townsend. There was a gun shop in Port Hadlock called Bear Arms about a decade ago, but until recently, no storefront gun shop. Jefferson county residents had to go to the Sequim/Port Angeles area or Silverdale to purchase firearms and parts.

But in November, Travis Stoken opened Stoken Arms and Outdoors in Port Townsend, so there is once again, a gun shop in Jefferson County. His store is located at 40 A Seton Rd. Same road as Edensaw.

I stopped in on a Thursday morning to check it out. There was a steady flow of customers in the shop, getting help with adjusting a rifle scope, picking up grips for a pistol, checking out a firearm that someone else had seen in the store earlier, picking up an order and just seeing what the new store had to offer.

I asked Stoken about opening the store at this location. He told me that he had been working at a firearms dealer in another county and saw the number of people that were coming to that establishment from Jefferson County. He had been interested in opening his own business and opening in a location with little competition looked like a good idea. He hasn’t done any advertising other than the sign on the road and word of mouth and has been pleasantly surprised with the amount of business and positive reception. He has been able to roughly track the word-of-mouth business. For example, he had a customer who is a member of the military and then several other people from the same facility came to his shop soon after. He saw a similar pattern with the mill and shipyard.

I asked about his specialty.  His emphasis is on customer service and building a long-term relationship with clients. Stoken Arms will buy, sell, trade and consign firearms, as well as make a transfer for $20. He says he has sold about 100 firearms since opening with about an equal mix of new and used. He says it is common for a person who is purchasing a new firearm to bring in one or two for a trade-in, like trading in the old car or truck. There are new firearms in stock including rifles, shotguns and handguns. He also has used and vintage firearms. Stoken Arms has a wide variety of suppliers and can special order many items and have them here in two to five days. He stocks a wide variety of ammunition, gun cleaning supplies, hearing protection, targets, slings and holsters. He also has outdoor supplies like camping gear, bear spray and clothing, as well as some military surplus items including a few gas masks. Gas mask? Are you old enough to remember Mount St. Helens?  Stoken would also like to start adding fishing gear to his inventory in the near future.

He is not a gunsmith but can do minor repairs. As I watched him interact with customers, Stoken showed a wide range of firearms knowledge discussing manufacturing dates, modifications, amount of recoil, price, fit and durability with customers. He spent a lot of time making sure the customer has exactly the item that will fit them and their needs. He gladly learns from his customers, admits if he doesn’t know and answer, and works with the customer to find the answer.

Stoken can process a background check right in the store. Since opening, no one purchasing a firearm from him has failed a background check. A background check for a manually operated (like a bolt action) rifle or shotgun is almost instantaneous. The timing for a background check for a handgun or semi-automatic usually takes from one to 10 business days and is conducted by law enforcement in the purchaser’s county of residence. There is a 10-day mandatory waiting period for a semi-automatic rifle. Here in Jefferson county, with a smaller population, a background check for a handgun usually takes about two business days. Stoken commented that most people know if they will pass a background check and someone who is likely to fail is generally not going to try to make a purchase from a licensed dealer.

Stoken Arms will also rent out specialized firearm assembly tools. For instance, a person can rent an appropriate wrench instead of paying $60 to only use it for one project.

Considering a fairly recent robbery at another firearms shop, I asked Stoken about his security measures. The Stoken Arms store is equipped with a high-tech surveillance and alarm system, and police response time is about two minutes. All firearms go into a large (heavy, bolted down) safe at night, so about the only things someone might be able to grab are a T-shirt or cleaning supplies. The store is also next to the East Jefferson County Fire and Rescue office, which often has people working there at odd hours. Don’t even think about it.

Overall, I found Stoken Arms and Outdoors has a welcoming and educational environment, and supplies that are not available anywhere else in the county. Stoken takes plenty of time with each individual customer. So, you can check out the new shop, save a trip and keep money in the local economy.

(Retired U.S. Forest Service wildlife biologist Beth Kennedy was a hunter education instructor for both firearm and bowhunter safety for over 20 years.)

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