Tom Medlock is ready to hang up his holster, figuratively speaking. Medlock, the owner of Tom’s Gun Shop for close to 52 years, is ready to retire and is hoping he can find a purchaser for his West Rome business as opposed to closing the shop.
Medlock revealed his plans in a Facebook posting which indicates the shop, which has been located in the same strip shopping center at the intersection of Shorter Avenue and Westdale Avenue since 1972, is now available.
“I have enjoyed just about every day since opening,” Medlock said. “Because of health problems I need to make some changes.”
“I have pulmonary fibrosis and I know there’ll come a time that I can’t come down here, and I’d just rather have everything in order so my wife would not have to try to liquidate the stuff,” Medlock said.
His father was an avid bird hunter, and while Medlock said he’d go on quail hunts with his dad just to be with his dad, it was simply the act of shooting that interested him.
He got started in the gun business selling firearms out of a little place behind his home in 1967. About five years later he moved to the shopping center where he has been ever since, but he was originally located one door down from his current location. Medlock was still working as an electrician with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union out of Atlanta and was running the gun store in the evenings and on Saturdays.
He ran his shop that way for about four years, spending a lot of time at Georgia Power’s Plant Bowen in Bartow County. At one point he was shifted over to Plant Hammond, where he would work a week and then have a week off. He finally decided that the gun business was promising enough that he just took what amounted to a permanent lay-off from the union.
“I had a pretty good business, a lot of law enforcement bought from me. When it was difficult to get quality guns I was able to get a lot of them,” Medlock said. That was the case largely because he had forged a relationship with the owners of Williams Gun Sight Co. in Davison, Michigan.
When Medlock was first getting started he said it was tough to get any dealers to sell him anything.
“I called up there one day and talked to Rex Williams and told him I needed a supplier for some guns,” Medlock said. Even Rex Williams was hesitant to deal with him at first.
Medlock told him, “We are different. My dad didn’t have a going business that I could just come in like you did. I thought he was fixing to hang up but he finally said ‘By golly, you’re right.’”
Williams had a contract with the Michigan State Police, and when he would take in some of the used guns from the MSP, he’d resell them to Medlock.
“They were getting them from me a lot cheaper than they could get them from other suppliers,” Medlock said. “I sold everything I could get.”
Increased federal regulations on the sale of firearms haven’t fazed Medlock much.
“It’s just time-consuming as far as your paperwork goes. Back then you had to record who you sold them to, but there were no background checks,” Medlock said.
“There have been some lean years and there have been some good years. The Obama years were probably the best. I probably made more money during that administration,” Medlock said. He thinks the current controversy related to so-called assault weapons is much ado over nothing.
“It’s not the weapon, it’s the guy who owns it,” Medlock said. He remembers through the years that criminals who had guns during the commission of a crime would go to court, get their sentence and the guns would be melted down.
In addition to his vast array of firearms, Medlock has sold NASCAR memorabilia through the years and still has a vast inventory of tiny NASCAR replica vehicles.
“They really went crazy when Earnhardt Sr. was killed,” Medlock said. “Cars that were selling for $50 started selling for $300-$400 a car.”
His best case scenario is for someone to be able to come in and purchase the business outright.
He doesn’t really have a timetable but wants to be able to walk out without having to worry about boxing up inventory to liquidate.