“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 . . .

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42 Responses to Weakley Watson Sporting Goods: America’s Oldest Gun Store?

  1. I’d say that if the name hasn’t changed, it can change ownership or it can change locations and still be the same store, as long as it doesn’t close down one year and then “re-open” in a different location or with different owners in another year. But if it changes ownership and location at the same time, is it the same store, or did somebody buy the name and put it on a new store?

    And if ownership change causes you to lose the title, we’d have to date Jovino to the 1920s.

    • Had an axe like that once. Best damn axe in the world, I tell you! Changed the handle three times and the bit twice. Man that was a great axe.

        • Sure, and if we peel the onion down to the part that makes you cry, it was states rights over the sovereign right to own people and force them to pick cotton for free. Thankfully, we gave one of the generals who fought for states rights a participation trophy in the form of a bunch of statues.

        • @dwb… really if the civil war was started by the south defending their right to own people as you put it, why did Lincoln vote for and wholeheartedly support the Corwin amendment? (The Corwin amendment was effectively a federal preemption clause protecting instutionalized slavery). Lincoln supported it and indeed wrote letter advocating for its passage.

          Educate yourself.

        • Im sure 100 years from now, old time Southern Democrats will still believe the civil war was not over slavery, and that Hillary Clinton won the election. lol.

    • What happened between 1861 and 1865 was not aggression, it was self defense. A large, unruly and illegal mob turned it’s guns on law abiding federal troops at Fort Sumter.

      No different behavior than that which happened in Ferguson or during the Rodney Kind riots.

        • kind bud encourages a nice, mello riot. they might even forget why they’re there and break into a spontaneous drum circle.
          kinder guardians is really good though.

    • The name “War of Northern Aggression” was never used during the Civil War and in fact didn’t come into being until the 1950s in an attempt to imply the North started the war. I think Civil War is accurate and less antagonistic or The War Between the States if one wants to be more verbal.

      • And yet Americans call the war which started in April 1775 a revolution when it too was really a civil war. If the Confederacy had won, would they have called it the second revolutionary war, and what would the north have called it? WHat about the rest of the world?

        I wonder what the British called the 1775 war. Google says War of Independence. Much more correct.

        On the other hand, if you take “revolution” as correct at the time, it implies they thought of the war as a change of government, not as a political split. In some ways that is true, as many think the 1787 Constitution was a betrayal of the war, which was better represented by the Articles of Confederation.

        Truth in advertising?

  2. Unfortunately John Jovinos changed ownership for the worse a long time ago and is now a sad husk of its former self. A real dump. It’s run by some dude who could care less, with an “inventory” of used magazines and some random rifles. I think it just serves as depot for the NYPD to pick up spare gear.

    If you’re in NYC and want to check out a good gun store then go out to Brooklyn and check out D and F bros. they have a fairly large inventory of pistols rifles shotguns etc. if you’re out of town and have no gun permit, no problem, you can still purchase a nice black powder revolver there. BB guns are illegal in NYC, even if you have a pistol permit, but a Colt .44 Walker is good to go with just a drivers license. Laws. They make no sense.

    • I have often thought that, if possession of modern firearms is banned, you could defend your home with several black powder revolvers stored here and there.

      • Under federal law a black powder shotgun has no minimum barrel length. Some .44 cap and ball revolvers and several double 12 bores of varying length and you got a viable house defense.

        Throw in some bowie knives and a saber or two and you can take on a whole gang.

        • Of course, if you load your cap and ball revolver, then it is illegal in NYC. Unloaded and it’s considered a paperweight. Now black powder rifles, those you have to register in NYC as a regular rifle. Wut? Yeah I know right? Chewbacca and the planet Endor. That also makes no sense.

      • Woof.
        Gonna get smokey in there real quick… hope you have good ventilation.
        It would certainly make the news though.

    • 100+ on this. The people that run it are proper assholes. Rude and not friendly. I remember walking in just to see what was inside. Mine you the door was open, and immediately the guy behind the counter started hounding me on why I came in. I asked the price for a tshirt and was greeted with oh it’s very expensive.

    • Agreed! DF Bros. is my gun shop. Frank is a stand up guy, and he has a great selection of firearms and hunting gear, right in good old Bensonhurst, Bklyn. Step into his store and you’re no longer in commieNYC!

      Got a p938 sas from him this year 🙂

    • Well you cannot own bullets and powder for the black powder pistols right ?

      And TTAG the constant, gratuitous in his case, shots at liberals are not helping anything

      Republicans at this point seem to stand for hating democrats and not much else, which is a degradation of our culture and our country. Probably a deliberate one since you need more than .1 percent of the votes to cut
      Taxes

      • You watched or read any “news” lately? Pot calling the kettle black. Conservatives (of which I am only half) have to deal with leftists basically calling them uneducated, racist Neanderthals(of which only half are) 24/7 since the election. If you can’t take a little push back then I suggest you lay off the hormones and eventually you will man up. I firmly do not belong to either of the main parties but find myself becoming more disgusted by the relentless criticism of the Republican Party with no considerations to the lefts major shortcomings.

  3. The putz who runs the Jovino store hates everybody except NYPD. I wouldn’t piss on him if he was burning.

  4. “I’m from Austin,” I replied. “But don’t worry I’m not a liberal.”

    That is debatable.

    • People in Austin don’t start out as liberals, they just get sucked into it. In all fairness, most, if not all, cities of any size are liberal/socialist territory. They almost have to be, keeping the inmates under control is not an easy job. It’s not just the 2nd Amendment, it is a never ending battle for total control. Socialist territories see themselves as models for the rest of the country. This past election has shown about half the voting public would embrace socialism. The problem does not just start at the Austin city limits.

  5. If someone’s trying to get you riled up over something that happened 100+ years before you were born, they see you as a useful tool to further their own agenda which, often as not, has nothing to do with the history being discussed.

    • The race hustlers count on the low iq bunch getting riled up. Roused red necks like stony man make jesse jackson and barry obama relevant and rich.

  6. Weakley Watson was in need of a new building, the old location on Fisk did not age well. But I believe the new building is well suited for the hunting & fishing/gun store despite it being in Early (No Taco Bell) instead of Brownwood (separated by the Pecan Bayou).

  7. Robert,
    Thanks for writing about us on your blog. Publicity is always good. As you stated, the store was opened in 1876
    ( Ulysses S. Grant was President) by Mr. Weakley who had recently moved to Brownwood from Stephenville after working in the area. As the population of the area increased, he out grew his first store located on Main street in Brownwood and moved to the Fisk street building were it was located for over a 100 years. Mr. Watson was his son-in-law and became a partner in the early 1900s. The business was handed down from generation to generation from the Weakleys to the Watsons to the Blaggs.
    I proudly purchased it in 2013 from the Blagg family who had stated that they didn’t have anyone in their family to take it over. The Fisk location was just to far from the higher traffic areas of the town, so we moved the store to Hwy 67 in spring of 2015. Even though the store is 140 years old and because of the new location we get folks like you that have never heard of the store, stopping by to check us out. You are right in that we do not have much of the original items used over the past 140 years in the store, but we are always looking for items that we can display to show our heritage. We are very proud of the store and its history and our claim is basically that we are the oldest continually operated gun store in the US. I am aware that Wikipedia shows that the title goes to the Imperato family and thats fine. They are a great family and have a great line of Henry Rifles, which we also sell in our store.

    It is a shame that we couldn’t stay in the old building downtown, but the building was just in the wrong location for modern times and to keep up with the competition we had to move to a better location. After several attempts to purchase land in Brownwood we decided on the Early location, because of the high traffic on Hwy 67.

    Thanks again for including us in your blog and the next time you are coming through town, let me know and I would
    be happy to meet you at the store and give you some of the interesting things that i have learned about the family before us, that owned and operated the store for so many years.

    David Furry
    President
    Weakley Watson Sporting Goods
    http://www.weakleysport.com

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