outdoors

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Brownells retail store in Iowa provides I-80 travelers a welcome break.

Shooters and hunters who do their own gun customization or reloading are likely familiar with Brownells. This Iowa-based company sells all sorts of firearm accessories, gun parts, gunsmithing tools, reloading components, and other various shooting supplies through its catalog and, more recently, its website.

I’ve personally ordered several items from Brownells over the years. So, when I spotted a sign for Brownells’ new retail store as we sped down I-80 last June on our way to Indiana, I told my wife we were making a pit stop.

The store is located at Exit 182 near Grinnell, Iowa, about an hour east of Des Moines. The store was barely a year old when we visited, having opened in June 2016. The retail store is adjacent to the company’s huge warehouse.

“The store is only 7,000 square feet, which is large for a gun store but small in comparison to the size of our brand,” noted Ryan Repp, communications director for Brownells. “It was really just meant to be a showroom, but it has all the normal things you’d expect in a gun store, with about 1,700 new and used guns on display.”

Repp claims it’s the only gun store in the world where one can buy (or trade) a firearm and nearly any product imaginable to customize it.

“Shoppers can buy what’s on the retail floor, of course, but can also order directly from the warehouse via a bank of computers along the east wall,” said Repp. “Average wait is 10-15 minutes, and parts, accessories, or ammo will be delivered via a retail-specific track system to the store for customer pick-up.”

Besides firearms, Repp says, “Some of the most popular items purchased in the store are magazines, industry-branded t-shirts, lower receivers, ammunition, and a whole host of gun parts. The beauty of the in-store ordering system is that most of our 120,000-plus product selection is available in minutes.”

However, it should be noted that some items may require up to a 24-hour wait.

I enjoyed browsing inside the store while my wife took Phantom for a much needed stroll around the store’s exterior. One of my favorite discoveries was the free pop machine. I filled up a large cup and then sent Krystal inside to do the same, before we continued on to Davenport, sustained by our caffeine-lace beverages.

“Yes, we do serve complimentary pop and Black Rifle Coffee for store visitors in the lobby,” Repp chuckled when I relayed my story. “We definitely see our share of out-of-state visitors who re-route their trips to stop by our retail store.”

It’s certainly something to keep in mind the next time you’re traveling eastbound down I-80. For more information and store hours, visit www.brownells.com/retail.

In two weeks, we’ll visit a place much closer to home. However, as you travel this summer, remember there are many outdoor-related activities and venues located all across the country. Take a few minutes to explore them. You might be pleasantly surprised, as we were by the Brownells retail store.

Jarrod Spilger writes an outdoor column for The Independent.

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