Wednesday, March 19, 2014
When Kyle Thaxton set out to start his own business, he had no inclination that it would soon be surrounded by controversy.
His intention was simply to find an affordable piece of commercial property and open a gunsmith shop.
His realtor found him a suitable property in the Coleman Boulevard Overlay District, stressing that commercial property along Coleman Boulevard did not come available often.
The property at 122 May Lane was situated on a double lot and suited his needs perfectly.
After creating an LLC, the Longbrow Group, named after a plantation on the Combahee River where he and his brother grew up hunting, he went to work on his business model for the Old Village Armory.
“It's a model that will fit perfectly in this market,” he explained. “Not only can you purchase a firearm, but there is nowhere else in the vicinity that provides extensive gunsmithing or offers NRA education and permitting, and safety courses by certified instructors,” Thaxton said.
NRA training is available as well as Eddie the Eagle courses for children.
Eighty percent of the Old Village Armory's business will be conducted online with only twenty percent of their customers being walk-ins. Appraisal services will also be provided.
Very little traffic will be added to the area, he said, noting that the businesses adjacent to his property already have delivery trucks accessing the street.
In addition, the property will be fenced and gated with a security system that will rival anyone's.
“We'll have a high-end security system, backed by a national security service, with multiple cameras and panic buttons, in addition to a walk-in-sized firearm safe.
A group of vocal opponents living in the Old Village and near May Lane have voiced concerns about the business, even creating a petition to have Mount Pleasant Town Council reconsider the approval. However, the location has been zoned and is approved for Area-Wide Business, which an armory falls under.
In September of 2013, Kent Prause, Division Chief of Zoning Administration for the Town of Mount Pleasant notified Thaxton that the zoning expressly allowed gunsmithing.
The only access to the store is via May Lane, however Thaxton and partner Donnie Buhrmaster are both open to working with adjacent property owners to open up an access via Coleman Boulevard.
“We were really surprised that any controversy would surround the opening of the store,” said Burhmaster, an Old Village resident himself.
Thaxton was also surprised about the rumors that quickly began circulating around town, specifically that there would be an indoor shooting range.
“This is just a small, simple gun shop and there will not be a shooting range at this location,” he said.
“Our plan is to be good neighbors, but this local activist group is making that difficult at this time,” Buhrmaster explained.
“In addition, we are not changing the footprint of the building, but we are open to suggestions for the architectural design and landscape of the exterior,” Thaxton said.
“We want to update what's there and help beautify May Lane.”
Thaxton is a Daniel Island resident, who grew up in Columbia. His family is from Edgefield and Eastover. “I've lived here since 1996 other than a summer working on Capitol Hill,” he said.
He is also a single father of two, a soccer coach, baseball coach and attends St. Micheals Church. His family lived in the Lowcountry while his grandfather, J. Edwin Jordan, and his brothers of Cherokee, Inc, built Hwy. 17. I'On was one of their holding yards at the time. They maintained the I'On property where they additionally ran a dove club until the land was sold in the 1990s.
Buhrmaster's family has owned homes in the Old Village since before the 1900s and he is the fifth-generation family member to live there.
He is raising three children in the Old Village where his family are active members of St. Andrew's Church. He is on the Men's ministry at St. Phillips Church downtown.
He is also a local charter boat captain.
Thaxton grew up in the manufacturing and distribution side of firearms, alongside his stepfather.
By trade he is a mechanical engineer, having mastered the art of being a machinist and fabricator. “This was my dream job to work with machines and build guns,” Thaxton said.
He has his federal firearms license, which is a Type I Dealer certification with a Class III SOT (Special Occupational Tax).
Old Village Armory