“Where you from?” the salesman at Weakley Watson Sporting Goods asked. “I’m from Austin,” I replied. “But don’t worry I’m not a liberal.” The staff and sole customer breathed a collective sigh of relief. Same as it ever was? Well . . .
Weakley-Watson Sporting Goods claims to be America’s oldest retail gun store. On that point, there is debate. wikipedia.org:
John Jovino Gun Shop or the John Jovino Company is a firearms dealer and factory located at 183 Grand Street, in Little Italy, a neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is the oldest gun retailer in New York City and says that it is the oldest gun shop in the United States.
The store, which is known for its sign depicting a revolver, was founded in 1911 by John Jovino who sold it to the Imperato family in the 1920s. It remains in the family.
Yup, the same Imperato family that now owns Henry Repeating Arms.
Whether or not Weakley-Watson Sporting Goods can claim the title “America’s oldest gun store” depends on whether or not you mean continuously operational at the same address and/or under the same family ownership.
The original Weakley-Watson opened in 1876. The new W-W opened earlier this year along the usual Taco Bell flavored urban sprawl in Early, Texas. As of this year, it’s under new management as well, after the fifth generation of owners called it quits.
We report, you decide.
The current gun store’s interior looks like nothing so much as a Target. It’s clean and tidy and antiseptic, stocked with a reasonable if not extensive selection of modern guns. Black and white photos on the wall are the only visible link to its [assumed] heritage.
I bought a $12.95 T-shirt with the historical photo above on the back for my youngest (who doesn’t shoot guns but lover her some gun T-shirts). It’s a shame that W-WSG didn’t do more to explain and exploit its history, arming Lone Star State cowboys and ranchers. But the mission continues . . .