Indoor shooting range keeps customers returning to Kennewick gun shop
Scott Schoffstall understands the formula for staying in business for 47 years.
“The key is to not get overextended,” said the owner of Hole in the Wall in Kennewick. “When people start businesses, sometimes they borrow $400,000 to $500,000 from banks, and they end up paying the banks. If you can’t afford to do it, you shouldn’t do it.”
Schoffstall is the third member of his family to run Hole in the Wall.
The store at 7509 W. Deschutes Ave. sells new and used guns; will buy, trade or consign guns; and sells ammunition, holsters and cleaning supplies, and hunting equipment.
His uncle, John Schoffstall, opened the store in 1971.
But in 1981, his uncle decided to move to Montana and start another business.
So Scott’s father, Tom Schoffstall, bought the business from his brother.
Tom Schoffstall ran the business until 1995, when he decided to open a steakhouse, called TS Cattle Co. on Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick.
That’s when Scott took over running Hole in the Wall, and he’s been doing it ever since.
Even when Tom had to close the steakhouse around 2005, Scott continued to run the business, and his father did the books until he died last year.
Scott Schoffstall learned a lot from his father.
“The biggest thing is my dad grew the business slowly,” Scott said. “And you keep your overhead small. And you listen to your customers. Guys come in and say, ‘You should get these.’ After a while, enough of them say that, you need to get what they say you should.”
Schoffstall said most hunters don’t really start thinking about hunting until the end of August or September.
But even then, the hunting business is not as lucrative for Hole in the Wall as it used to be.
“Hunting used to be the biggest part of our business,” he said. “We saw that change when Sportsman’s Warehouse opened. But now our biggest business is target shooting and self-defense.”
The indoor target range features 10 lanes. It’s been a big key to the business thriving for as long as it has.
“My dad started really small,” Schoffstall said. “He built this store in 1990, and it was 2,500 square feet. But in 1997, he added a shooting range. That grew it to 10,000 square feet.”
People can try before they buy.
“There are plenty of businesses in the Tri-Cities to purchase guns,” Schoffstall said. “But we are the only place where you can come in and shoot the gun before you buy it.”
Which is important, he said, if the gun you’re trying, for instance, has too much recoil in it.
In addition to the target shooters, Schoffstall has seen a rise of customers interested in self-defense.
“Self-defense is our biggest growing group,” he said. “And we’re getting more and more women in here. It’s huge, especially if you’re a single woman. It’s ridiculous if you don’t know how to shoot a gun.”
Self-defense classes are no larger than six customers, Schoffstall says he might get 10 people a month for classes.
“We usually do two self-defense classes a month,” he said. “Five years ago, there may have been a total of four or five classes all year.”
In addition, Hole in the Wall holds education and safety classes once a month.
Schoffstall said the number of employees he has varies with the time of year, but he currently has six.
He is confident the gun business will continue to do well.
“The only thing I see that would put a huge crimp in this business would be some regulations that would ban guns,” Schoffstall said. “That would limit what we sell. Right now, our handguns are the No. 1 seller, assault rifles are two or three. But if a ban happens, we’d just would have to find something else to sell.”
That’s what good businesses do: adjust to the market.
But that’s not a problem right now for Hole in the Wall.
Drive by the store any time of the day, and the parking lot is filled with cars.
“Summer is normally our slowest time too. But it’s been pretty busy,” Schoffstall said. “The fall and winter are the busiest.”
It helps that the store is adjacent to Columbia Center Boulevard, attracting a good amount of drive-by traffic.
“My dad was smart when he bought this place out here before it got so busy,” Schoffstall said.
But it’s the indoor shooting range that’s the huge attraction.
“The range has definitely helped our business,” he said. “There are a few outdoor ranges around the Tri-Cities. But we’re the only public indoor range. I’m planning on putting some new lighting in the gun range, trying to upgrade it this winter.”
In three years, Hole in the Wall will be 50 years old.
It’ll be a big milestone.
“And we’re going to do something to celebrate when we get to our 50th,” Schoffstall said.
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