Van Raymond, the owner of Van Raymond Outfitters in Brewer. Credit: John Holyoke

BREWER, Maine — When Van Raymond opened a gun shop in Bangor back in 1983, he did business in the basement ROTC closet of the old Bangor High School. He wasn’t allowed to put a sign out front because the building already had too much signage.

After a series of moves, he landed on South Main Street in Brewer in 1986 as a full-service sporting shop — Van Raymond Outfitters — specializing in hunting and fishing.

After a 32-year run at that location, Raymond is ready to sell the business.

“I’m getting to be older and my wife is retired, and I decided it’s time for me to retire,” Raymond said Friday. “So I put it on the market [a year ago], and I didn’t have any inquiries. So I’m trying to sell it privately now.”

The first effort to sell was likely invisible to most of the store’s customers. This time, it’s much more obvious thanks to the “BUSINESS FOR SALE” sign on the marquee, which greets motorists heading toward Bangor from Orrington.

Raymond said if the effort to sell the business privately doesn’t pan out, he’ll likely close it up within six months or a year.

“I have mixed feelings about that because it’s kind of my baby, and I started from 100 square feet or less in a basement,” he said.

Raymond, 72, said the present store at 388 South Main St. is about 5,000 square feet.

When he listed the business through a local agency in 2017, the list price was $1.2 million. Raymond said he’s not seeking that much money now.

“I would probably sell it for what I have in inventory or even less,” he said. “And the building would be optional, whether the [buyer] wanted to buy the building or lease it from me, or move the business. I’m very flexible.”

In 2017 the inventory itself was worth $800,000, Raymond said. Now, after some inventory reduction sales, it’s worth less than that.

Van Raymond Outfitters is in a building that once held a school and later was Watson’s Hardware.

Raymond said online shopping trends have hurt business in some sectors, but said many shoppers still want to have a relationship and a discussion with the person selling them firearms.

“People still like to come in and handle equipment and see what they’re buying, especially firearms,” Raymond said. “The market has been really big in handguns for the last 15 years. A lot of people who are buying a handgun are buying for the first time and need a lot of education, which we can provide.”

Raymond said that he is reluctant to sell or close, but does want to get the chance to enjoy the next stage of his life.

“The part I feel bad about is abandoning local customers, good customers who have shopped here for 20 or 30 years,” he said. “But unfortunately, I do want to retire. That’s the bottom line, unfortunately.”

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...