Elk River Guns
Where: 1320 Dream Island Plaza, Steamboat Springs
Services: New and used firearms, gunsmithing, ammo and hunting accessories
Store Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Saturday, with expanded hours during hunting season
Phone: (970) 879-7565
Steamboat Springs The former home of Golden Cue Billiards in the Dream Island Mobile Home Park has a new occupant. Elk River Guns opened Monday to what owner Ken Constantine called "a wonderful response."
Elk River will join Circle H Firearms and Sports Authority as a retail supplier of firearms in Steamboat Springs. Wal-Mart stopped selling guns earlier this year.
Constantine hopes his store can provide a level of service previously unavailable in the community.
"I saw a need in this town for a full-service gun shop," Constantine said. "I offer not just firearms, but a full range of shooting supplies, optics and gunsmithing."
Constantine's story is a familiar one in Steamboat. He moved here 31 years ago after graduating college, intending to take a semester off before graduate school, but he never left.
"This town just won me over. It has always felt like home from the first day I got here," Constantine said.
Constantine previously owned a construction company, ran the Pine Cone Day Camp in the 1980s, worked for TIC and is a former regional director of Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation organization.
Constantine said guns have been one of his passions since he was in the Boy Scouts. He was the captain of his high school's rifle team. Constantine has been a gunsmith for 19 years. Both the National Rifle Association and the National Sporting Clays Association have certified him as an instructor. He coaches 4-H shooting sports and has been a member of the Routt County Rifle Club since 1980.
Constantine said he chose his location on Dream Island Plaza because of its visibility from U.S. Highway 40, the quality of access and parking and because it is on the west side of town and in close proximity to the Routt County Rifle Club.
Constantine's 1,600-square-foot store had an opening inventory of about 75 guns. He offers brands such as Browning, Benelli, Savage, Taurus, Smith & Wesson, Ruger and Glock, among others.
"In addition to selling new firearms, I will be selling used firearms and taking guns in on consignment," Constantine said. "The used guns will be inspected for proper functioning."
Dan Holcomb, owner of Circle H Firearms, said he welcomes the competition from Elk River.
"I have no problems," Holcomb said. "I know the owner and wish him well."
Holcomb said "everybody has their own niche" and believes both shops will thrive by targeting different sectors of the market. Holcomb also said he has forgone a high-visibility location like Constantine's and prefers to let his customers find him. Circle H Firearms is at 1890 Elk River Plaza.
"We have a couple different philosophies," Holcomb said. "I'm a little off the beaten path."
Elk River Guns currently is a one-man operation, with Constantine keeping the store open 8 hours a day and also spending time in the mornings for his gunsmith work. Constantine said he was "swamped" in his first three days. It's a lot of work, but Constantine is embracing it.
"I have to finish putting my daughters through college," Constantine said. "I'm not ready to retire."