A new business specializing in firearms sales, education, and manufacturing is applying the finishing touches and getting ready to open its doors to the Waldoboro community at 65 Washington Rd.
General Manager Jeffrey Blake said Liberty Tree Arms is looking at the end of February or the first week of March for a soft opening, with plans for a grand opening to take place in the spring.
Jeffrey Blake and his wife, company President Kristine Blake, signed a lease for the property on Dec. 1, 2015.
Jeffrey Blake said that though the business space is currently being rented, they hope to purchase the location in the future.
Liberty Tree Arms is licensed to sell and manufacture specialty firearms covered by the National Firearms Act, including machine guns.
Jeffrey Blake said the license also allows the store to deal in other weapons, suppressors, and equipment covered by the National Firearms Act.
“We offer the things you don’t typically see in a small shop,” he said.
He said a focus of the store is to create a place for those interested in sport shooting to come together and share their interests.
“We wanted to do this right. The gun community is different than other retail businesses. People come in to talk. Every gun shop I’ve been in has had that dynamic and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.
He also said he and his wife hope to make the shop a fixture of the community, utilizing social media to respond to suggestions and requests from consumers.
“It’s our shop but it’s also the community’s shop,” he said.
Jeffrey Blake is a certified National Rifle Association instructor for NRA firearms courses. Kristine Blake is also working toward her NRA instructor certification.
Jeffrey Blake said the store will also offer accessories to firearms, hunting gear, and other firearms-related items.
The Appleton residents started their work to transform the interior of their location into a retail space shortly after signing the lease.
They have lived in Appleton for the past few years. Jeffrey Blake grew up in Belfast and Kristine Blake originally hails from Windham.
Both have long experience as community paramedics, working for roughly 20 years in the field.
Jeffrey Blake said the jump to opening their own business was part of a natural growth of their mutual interests, and said he had built AR-15s as a hobby in the past.
“We have both been firearms enthusiasts for a long time,” he said.
He said his introduction to firearms was hunting as a boy and he later served as an armorer in the U.S. Army. He is a veteran of both the Army and the U.S. Navy, and saw combat in Iraq in 2003.
Kristine Blake said she has eight years of experience handling firearms, originally getting tips from family members in law enforcement.
“I always wanted to learn to shoot,” she said.
She said she is looking forward to tailoring items and classes at the store toward women, hoping her serving as an instructor could attract those who might otherwise be wary to learn about sport shooting.
“I would like to get some more women interested in the sport,” she said.
Jeffrey Blake described the decision to open the business in Waldoboro as a combination of convenience and opportunity.
He said the building’s close proximity to the junction of Routes 1 and 220 was an attractive feature.
“We wanted to be on one of the regular corridors, whether it was Route 1 or Route 17,” he said.
He also spoke highly of the efforts of Waldoboro Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs and Town Planner Emily Reinholt, who worked to find them a spot for their store in the community.
He said the town manager spent six to eight months working to get them into Waldoboro and find a location that fit the needs of the new business.
“Those two are the reason we ended up in Waldoboro,” he said.
Another specialty item offered by Liberty Tree Arms are steel targets, offering marksmen and women a chance to hone their skills on a target fit with armored plating.
“They ring out loudly when you hit them, offering instant gratification, and they will last a lifetime,” Jeffrey Blake said.
Liberty Tree Arms is a National Rifle Association Business Alliance Member and a supporter of Gun Owners of Maine.
For more information about Liberty Tree Firearms, go to the store’s Facebook or MeWe page.