After 66 years of operation, another historic business will leave Main Street, when the Bullet Hole relocates to a new downtown location. The business, which specializes in gun sales, repairs and safes, opened its doors in 1947 at 1576 Main St. Now, it’s preparing to relocate Memorial Day weekend to a new building, not too far away, at 330 S. Orange Ave.
According to co-owner Brooke Misantone, whose family purchased the store in 1982, he and his parents, co-owners Francis and Barbara Misantone, were unable to get their desired lease length with building owner, Jesse Biter, who in December purchased the five-storefront commercial space.
Misantone says the store, which is one of the oldest on Main Street, is in need of repairs, and the costs would be difficult to justify if they couldn’t occupy the space for at least 10 more years. This, combined with a desire to expand and own their own building, prompted the family to begin leasing the new Orange Street location, which they intend to purchase. The new store is walking distance from the current location and will offer greater square footage.
The Bullet Hole’s current location is 20 feet wide by 100 feet deep, and the new location is 100 feet wide by 40 feet deep. Misantone says the extra space, as well as the different layout, will significantly change the store’s atmosphere.
“Right now, (the store is) long and narrow, and you pretty much have to walk straight back,” he says. “With all of our taxidermied animals, there’s a certain character to the store. It won’t ever look like that again.”
Although the relocation is representative of a healthy business, Misantone says the move will be bittersweet.
“There are a lot of mixed feelings,” he says. “We’re excited about the new location and about expanding, but it’s a shame to see something move that’s been here for so long. We’re the only gun store on Main Street.”
Misantone says this type of relocation, although usually under less-fortunate circumstances, is becoming more common in Sarasota.
“Main Street and, really, downtown in general, is moving in a different direction,” says Misantone. “There is a lot of progress, and there is a big push for more mixed-use housing, and that’s not a bad thing. But, it is a shame to see some of these historic stores leaving Main Street. They have a lot of character.”
The store will begin its relocation over Memorial Day weekend with no interruption to business. Misantone says he hopes to have the new store opened by early June, and he looks forward to furthering the store’s history in a new location.
“I think we’ve been able to stay so successful here, because we’re not a fly-by-night business,” says Misantone. “People respect us as a steady business, and they trust us when they’re making a buying decision. We have a large loyal customer base, which we hope to maintain after the move. We’ll be able to offer more in a larger place, and we hope to continue to build those relationships and that trust.”
BY THE NUMBERS
65 — Number of taxidermied animals in the shop, including a lion rug made from Big Boy, a former Ringling Circus lion, who was put down.
20 — Average number of years each animal has been in the shop
1,00 — Approximate number of firearms being transported to the new store. Brooke Misantone estimates that in addition to thousands of pounds of ammunition, the store will move 500 long guns and 500 handguns.
$12,000 — Price of the most expensive gun in the store, a Barrett .50-caliber rifle