Phil Castle, The Business Times
Tim Holt gets up in the morning and sometimes wonders if he’s still dreaming. Even months after completing the transaction, he says it’s difficult for him to realize he owns Jerry’s Outdoor Sports in Grand Junction.
Call it an entrepreneurial dream come true. Holt does.
Holt takes over from his father-in-law, Jerry Stehman, the operation of one of the largest outlets in Colorado for firearms, ammunition and accessories and what’s become a destination for hunting and shooting enthusiasts.
Holt brings to his duties nearly 20 years of sales and management experience, most of that in the mining industry. But he says he’s excited about owning his own venture. “It all kind of came together in one big bundle.”
Stehman launched Jerry’s Outdoor Sports in 1985 after purchasing a sporting goods business. While he initially sold a variety of merchandise, he decided to serve a niche market with firearms, ammunitions and accessories.
Stehman moved the business several times, including a corner location in a strip mall at the intersection of the Interstate Highway 70 Business Loop and 30 Road. In 2012, he purchased a building across the street and moved into renovated quarters that at 11,000 square feet was more than double the size of his former location. He also expanded inventory and staff.
Holt says his father-in-law considered retirement for several years, but had difficulty finding the right buyer. Holt says he expressed his interest in the operation and they talked for about a year before closing on the transaction in September.
Holt says he was born in Rifle and always considered Western Colorado his home. He moved to Grand Junction in 2007 to work in various sales positions with companies serving the mining industry. He says he focused on providing safety and communications equipment and also helped train mine rescue teams.
Before that, he worked for a company that supplies bumpers and other parts to automotive body shops. He worked his way up to general manager and relocated to Phoenix to open a branch location there.
At the same time, though, Holt says he’s always enjoyed entrepreneurial pursuits. When his father managed the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland, Holt says he used to work during the county fair selling popcorn and pop.
The payoff for a week of hard work and long hours was a pocket full of cash. “I just remember that feeling.”
In Grand Junction, Holt operated a specialty advertising firm in Grand Junction serving small businesses.
Holt says of the biggest attraction in buying Jerry’s Outdoor Sports was the staff his father-in-law assembled. “He has the best employees.”
Holt says the staff of 10 brings a collective 350 years of experience to their jobs, a passion for firearms and knowledgeable and friendly service that differentiates the operation in a competitive marketplace.
Those employees provide the kind of experience Holt says he wants — sharing knowledge, but in way that’s respectful and approachable. That’s important in a business in which some customers unfamiliar with firearms can feel intimidated.
As for firearms, Holt says Jerry’s Outdoor Sports carries an inventory with a total of more than 2,000 rifles, shotguns and pistols.
The store also sells firearms on a consignment basis, updating its website listing on a daily basis, he says. “That’s got a pretty good following. They turn pretty quick.”
Jerry’s Outdoor Sports also stocks a wide selection of ammunition as well as reloading equipment, optics, gun safes and an assortment of other accessories.
Holt says he hopes to carry more merchandise from local manufacturers, including Viking Armament and XLR Industries.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions have made it more challenging to bring in merchandise. But Jerry’s Outdoor Sports has fared better than other retailers, Holt says, because of its long-standing relationships with manufacturers and distributors.
At the same time, demand has increased, he says — not only from existing customers, but also new customers. “Business is going great.”
He attributes that to a combination of factors, including a growing number of people who purchase firearms for personal safety. “People are seeing things through a new lens,” he says. “They want to feel safe.”
Other people pursue shooting sports as a hobby. Long-range shooting has become particularly popular, he says.
Grand Junction is located in a region that offers many hunting opportunities — not to mention what Holt calls a world-class facility at the nearby Cameo Shooting and Education Complex.
Customers come to Jerry’s Outdoor Sports, he says, because they know they’ll find there knowledgeable staff eager to cater to them.
Looking ahead, Holt says he hopes to update the computer system and website to accommodate online sales as well as ramp up marketing.
But for now, he says he’s grateful for the support he’s received from the staff and community and especially his wife, Jessica. “She was probably my biggest supporter through this.”
Holt also credits his faith. “That’s played a big role in having my dream come true. It’s been a blessing for sure.”
Jerry’s Outdoor Sports is located at 2999 North Ave. in Grand Junction. For additional information, call 245-1502 or visit www.jerrysoutdoorsports.com.