Apr. 1 – When the father of the Gun & Reel Sports owner and his partner opened the shop in 1953, the goal was to offer quality merchandise that you couldn’t buy in a discount store.
“They’ve always wanted to offer the higher quality products and services that we sell,” said Gary Dockter. “When they started out, they pretty much just made firearms and some sporting goods.”
He said Gun & Reel eventually expanded into selling power sports – boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles and ATVs – and also sells sporting goods such as running, hiking and athletic shoes, hunting and fishing products, clothing and firearms.
“They just wanted to be a full-line sporting goods store,” Dockter said. “Actually one of the few in the state. I don’t know if there is anyone else that sells strength products and sports, hunting, fishing and all of that together.”
Because Gun & Reel is a one-stop store and current availability of powersports products goes hand in hand with the supply chain, Dockter sees customers from across the state.
“They pretty much have to drive to get it if they can find it because there’s such limited availability of this stuff right now,” he said.
He said a sporting goods store north of the Grand Theater, located where the Gladstone Inn & Suites is currently located, was originally purchased by his father and partner. The two decided to move the store and opened Gun & Reel in what is now the Sapphire Gallery on West 1st Street.
“I think they just wanted to be downtown,” Dockter said. “It’s kind of the way things were back then. Everything was downtown.”
The building where Gun & Reel is now located was formerly Montgomery Ward. When the owners decided they needed more space for weight training, they bought the building west of it after a laundromat closed and opened up the walls to allow people to walk between buildings.
Dockter eventually took over the business after buying company stock from two other partners. Dockter and the partners had bought stock from his father so he could retire.
The story goes on
He said he’s been the sole owner of the company for about two years.
Gun & Reel also bought the trading post building after a fire and used it to display boats and other items. The building was eventually sold, and he used the money to build a new building just north of the US Postal Service offices.
Having Gun & Reel on West 1st Street is good for businesses because people can walk around to each store, Dockter said. He also said there is ample parking for shoppers.
“I think inner cities are starting to come back a bit with all the restaurants and all that,” he said.
He said the proximity to restaurants and Babb’s Coffee House helped Gun & Reel get more visitors.
“A lot of times they’ll go to the corner and get a coffee, and then on their way over here or whatever, they’ll come and see us,” Dockter said.
What makes Gun & Reel unique is that it has two service shops that can repair lawn mowers, motorcycles, boats or anything else with small or large engines, he said.
“We have a certified mechanic in the shop who fixes everything we sell,” he said.
When customers try to find something, its staff, who Dockter says prides itself on knowing the products, will find the item for them and even match prices with other stores.
“If they can get it in Fargo for a certain price, we can usually match the price and they don’t have to drive and spend gas and everything,” he said.
He said he sees customers who have been shopping at Gun & Reel for years.
“Now we take care of their children from generation to generation,” he said.
115 1st St.W
Opening times: Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m