◆ ‘Biggest little sporting goods store’ in Star Valley.
“The biggest little sporting goods store you’ve ever walked into.”
That apt description of Wyoming Minuteman Supply sums up the eight-year-old business in Thayne that draws not only hunters and fisherman from Alpine to Kemmerer but also just a bit farther on the map – like, say, a SWAT team from Munich, Germany.
“I have a guest book for if they’re from outside the country,” co-owner Lorell Woolley told SVI Media. “I get people from all over the world, from Australia, from Canada, from Russia.”
And all come from metropolitan areas to a rural market where people live for outdoor recreation – or work. Houses are where you sleep after you feed the cattle or park the ATV. And, according to Woolley and co-owners Robert E. King and Carl R. Nield, Star Valley is also where Second Amendment rights are respected – and where gun safety is taught from the day you hold a BB gun.
Woolley, King and Nield jumped into business together for this “biggest little sporting goods store,” a description oft uttered by Woolley, to offer competitive diversity in a market on roller coaster rides midst pandemic protocol and national politics.
“We want to be honest and fair and not yank anybody or jack prices up. We live by that motto,” Woolley related.
The three owners surmise that diversity in the sporting goods market – even as politics affect supply and demand – can keep costs as low as possible. Any other method, Woolley said, “our conscience gets to us, so we keep things as low as we can and still keep the lights on.”
But it’s an unending challenge, especially with one full-time employee. “We spend many hours more than we had to before just searching for supplies. We can get on a supplier site, and there’s nothing, and two minutes after [that they have something], and if we don’t get it, it’s gone.
“We spend more time on the computers than on the phone. We have 12 to 15 good suppliers. They’ve got a ton of stores to supply but they’ve been really good to us. Sometimes they call me and say, ‘We have one box of 22 [caliber] shells, do you want them?’ ‘Of course! We’ll take what we can get!’”
Ammunition and many firearms – including shotguns — are the hardest to come by, but when they come in, Minuteman Supply quickly puts out the word and limits sales so as many customers as possible have access.
One day they received a supply of 9 mm ammo, Woolley recalled. They had 15,000 rounds in 500-round cans. “We got them on a Thursday night and put them on the shelf Friday morning, and by 9 [a.m.] they were gone. We limited one can per person, and they were still gone. It’s kind of a feeding frenzy.”
In fact, Woolley explained, self-loading rounds are no different. The same supply and demand and laws apply.
“COVID hurt us,” he added, “but because of good customers and the stuff we do, it keeps us going, and we’re doing pretty well.”
Especially because in a region where outdoor recreation is not only viable but also exceptional, Minuteman Supply carries about any sporting and camping supplies an outdoorsman – or woman – might want.
From sleeping bags and tents, from fishing poles and tackle to the latest in coolers, Minuteman offers it.
“We carry live bait for our fishing in the summertime. In winter, we have frozen.”
And they’re carrying gun safes now, along with emphasizing ongoing gun safety to all customers. “We are more than just a gun shop,” Woolley related.
Minuteman Supply partners with a member of the Jackson police department who independently teaches gun safety and licensing. Classes are held winter and summer. “It meets the minimum requirements for a concealed carry [license], but we recommend a step further. [Varying classes] teach more about the law and that kind of thing.
“There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with a concealed carry permit, but we encourage them to get that training. We encourage safety 100 percent and education 100 percent.”
Woolley and his partners are proud of their customer service and their tradition of working with respectable suppliers, like Freedom Arms, a nationally renowned firearms manufacturer in Freedom.
Wyoming Minuteman Supply operates at 494 North Main in Thayne. Their store hours are Mondays-Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The store is closed on Sunday.
Expressing gratitude to the Star Valley Chamber of Commerce for their continued support, Woolley said:
“If you want to know about a business, call the chamber. They’ll fill you in. They do a lot to generate tourism. I just appreciate what the chamber does for all the businesses.”
See https://www.wyms.co/ for more information on Wyoming Minuteman Supply and for information on gun safety classes.