As Art Burtis turned his hobby into a business, the principal of The Heritage Guild has tailored his three archery and firearms shops to fit all of the needs of not only seasoned hobbyists, but also those new to the sport.
“We see an expanding market in people who want to get into outdoor activities and archery, which is the primary focus in Branchburg,” Burtis said, mentioning his newest shop to open. “People are looking for a chance to practice with what they have, and be able to experience their hobby at a nice, clean, well-maintained, modern facility … and we’re developing those avenues.”
Burtis, who has been operating Heritage Firearms, in Rahway since 2002, said the closure of Ray’s Sports Shop, on Route 22, two years ago opened up the Branchburg market for Heritage Guild to fill the void.
“We had a very traditional following here (in Rahway). I would say the demographics were 45 to 65, people who had been shopping here for quite a number of years — (but) in the last two, three years, we’ve seen a big change in demographic,” Burtis said. “We have a lot more younger couples coming in, females coming in … we think the growth in this activity is to not only offer the product, but offer the outlet of actually practicing and shooting the product.”
Classes in firearms safety, shooting development and archery safety also have attracted interest, which Burtis said Heritage has just begun to offer.
Burtis said the sales staff at his three shops is very knowledgeable, and will walk customers through the process of purchasing equipment as well as using the products.
“In our original store, people come back here because they just like the level of service they’re able to get,” Burtis said.
Burtis said he is going to focus on getting his Branchburg and Easton, Pa., stores running and profitable, but is not ruling out further expansion in the area.
“As long as we can grow this business plan in a similar manner, and not dilute or degrade the quality of service, product and offering we have for the public, we would be looking to expand,” Burtis said.