MEET THE MERCHANT
Fin & Feather
Locally owned retailer of firearms, accessories, fishing rods, and reels.
Fin and Feather is a full service gunsmith. Offering cleaning, stock repair, action work, and upgrades. Their specialty is restoration of older and antique firearms. They also handle Internet transfers, sales, and person to person transfers for customers in the SW Washington Area. They can also assist you in selling your firearms nationwide.
MEET THE OWNER
In the late 80’s early 90’s before college Mike was a gunsmith apprentice. He enrolled in college and received an engineering degree which landed him a position with the State of Washington.
Very shorty after, he decided he really didn’t enjoy that line of work. So back to college he went and focused on emergency medicine. He worked as a Paramedic EMT Firefighter for 18 years he enjoyed the work although it took a toll on his body.
Talking with wife about what to do next. He knew there was need for classically trained gunsmiths, so he started out part time in their home then quickly became a full-time home-based business in 2013. His business grew slowly and steadily until one day his wife said.. “I want my living room dining room and kitchen back” so they started looking for a building which did not take long at all. He opened up at his current location 215 Pioneer St. The date was February 2020.
In March 2020 everything shut down due to Covid. (My thought: one cannot even begin to imagine unless you are a business owner the sense of loss and uncertainty he was facing so shortly after such a huge investment and signing a lease).
How did you get started in this line of work or creating this concept or business?
His years in emergency medicine placing people in ambulances left his body hurting, and began talking with wife about another line of work.
The inspiration in starting up this business service line of work?
Recognized the need and was aware of the lack of classically trained gunsmiths. Mike’s specialty is the restoration of older and antique firearms. He pointed toward some antique firearms he had finished repairing/restoring and said some you see here are over 120 years old. There are 2 other gunsmiths one in Vancouver the other is in Camas, yet they are not competing against one another rather they work together. As one owner put it: “We can work and survive together or we can all fail separately”.
Wife came up with name as the focus of their business is repairing firearms such as bird hunting shotguns and fishing reels – Fin and Feather fit the bill perfectly.
Why did you choose downtown Ridgefield to open your business?
Natural evolution from Ridgefield home-based business to downtown space.
What is your most popular or sought-after item or service you provide?
Repair and restoration of older & antique firearms and fishing reels.
How many employees do you have?
2 employees: Jolleen Herbert Manager and son Cullen. It is clear Mike prefers being in the background and performing the repairs. Jolleen was hired in July 2020 to run the day to day business aspect. His son Cullen served in the US Army for 2 years as a combat medic and was also armory certified before being medically discharged. His role is sales and because of his background he gives customers instructions and tips on how to use firearm properly and safely if needed.
What is the question you get asked most often?
“Do you have ammo?” He said the panic buying is over but covid has wreaked havoc on the international shipping supply chain that so many business rely on to supply them with needed goods and products.
I asked if we make ammunition here is US he said there are 4 manufactures. The challenge in ordering from US manufactures is that the US government can only buy their ammunition from US suppliers and due to the fact US government is a great customer and there is a great cost to a business that fails to fulfill a government contract, they will always be at the head of the line. Mike said you know the old adage “a servant cannot serve two masters”…
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced and overcome or facing now?
Opening a business in February 2020 and being shut down the next month. Getting products and supplies remain a challenge.
What are you most proud of or has been most fulfilling or enjoyed most owning own business?
Being able to next step from home-based business to having own store front and so far surviving Covid and it’s disruptions.
He credits RMS and their efforts, support, and programs extended to him during the shutdown helped tremendously. He also mentioned the City was instrumental to his ability to get his business open up with conditions. He noted it isn’t often your elected officials actually listen support and work with you.
Do you plan on making any significant changes in the near future or working on anything new?
His plan is to slowly steadily grow, refine, and supply his clients needs and provide best customer service
I noted a host of police badges framed on the wall and asked him about it. He says he has received great support from a host of law enforcement groups, military and first responders both locally, State wide, and nationally.
Mike was a volunteer with Search and Rescue for 12 years which took him far from home-He is a person who give back, serves, or volunteer in community. He was asked in 2020 to serve on the board of Directors with Ridgefield Main Street and now serves on the RMS board. He really enjoys the fact that the position with RMS lets him volunteer closer to home.
The fact that Ridgefield is a destination and draw for recreational fishing and in some cases bird hunting, downtown Ridgefield has been a great asset and compliment to his success.