On Wednesday, Dec. 20, members of the Madison County Chamber of Commerce joined Chris Hines and Tyler Bonta Lane, owners of the Smokin’ Aces Armory (SAA) in Plain City, for a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officiated the store’s opening. The armory is a retail storefront which specializes in new guns and ammunition.
Co-owner Chris Hines said that the ceremony acted as the armory’s final cap to their recent opening before summer 2017.
“We opened in May but had some trouble with our occupancy permit,” Hines said. “Since all that has now been cleared, we wanted to make our official entrance into the Madison County business world.” Hines and Lane were present for the ceremony, along with members of the Chamber of Commerce board, Plain City police officers, and other community members.
Hines established SAA in 2012, operated the business out of his home. He said his love of guns took shape after teaching concealed carry classes.
“I started teaching the course in 2011 and noticed people didn’t have their FFL (Federal Firearms License),” said Hines. The FFL allows an individual or company to engage in business pertaining to firearms and ammunition. “From there, it’s been a natural progression from teaching to moving into the selling.”
Hines currently lives in Dublin but spent most of his life in Plain City, having attended Shekinah Christian School from kindergarten through graduation. When it came time to search for a brick and mortar location for the business, he looked at surrounding areas including Marysville. At the time, much of the sales for SAA came in the form of merchandise, such as a variety of shirts and apparel featuring the company’s spade-shaped logo.
“At the end of 2016, we just started selling to Plain City Police Department,” he said. “One of the police officers, Phil Greenbaum, asked how the store was progressing.” When Hines mentioned the Marysville location, Greenbaum suggested calling Plain City mayor Darrin Lane. “I called him and within hours, had it figured out.”
Hines partnered with Lane’s son, Tyler, who also helped get the family-owned land at 9525 State Route 161 East in Plain City for the armory’s store. Since its opening, Hines said the store is slowing growing.
Although it’s doing well, he added there has been some backlash and concern from people in the community about the village’s close proximity to a firearms supplier.
“We’ve had some flack from the community, mostly people who are anti-firearm,” Hines said. “Our biggest push is with federal background checks. We can guarantee that no customers have felonies.” He said SAA uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), provided by the FBI. For The inclusion of safety training and education is part of what SAA has to offer.
They are currently using land at Yoder Cabinets on Amish Pike as a shooting range until plans for a range on the State Route 161 property are solidified.
“We always recommend getting the training necessary to operate a firearm,” Hines said. “The best thing you can do before you buy a gun is already know about them.”
SAA buys their firearms from wholesalers who get them from the manufacturers. In most cases, buying from the armory can cost as much or less than if a customer buys online.
“In some instances, people spend more money online,” Hines said. The education, safety, and pricing philosophy is what went into creating the company’s motto. “We believe in those things and that’s why our motto is: ‘Getting the right guns in the right hands for the best price.’”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.