By Clint Mitchell
Longtime Marshfield residents Debbie and Michael Taylor love their community. But even more than that, they love serving the community that’s been good to them for so long.
It’s a big reason why Michael joined the Marshfield Fire Department and became the station’s fire chief. It also has a lot to do with why the pair opened the Marshfield Thrift Barn and their latest venture, Taylor Arms and Ammo.
On Monday-Friday, you can find Debbie managing the Marshfield Thrift Barn, a nonprofit shop she and Michael opened to give back to the Webster County community. The store offers affordable clothing and home items, as well as unique knickknacks throughout the shop. And it’s been common practice for Debbie and Michael to offer free supplies to those displaced from structure fires in the community.
“We’ve helped a lot of people that way,” Debbie said. “People come in who have lost their home, and I just tell them to pick out whatever they want.”
And since May of this year, Debbie and Michael have also been operating Taylor Arms and Ammo from within the Thrift Barn.
The couple received their Federal Firearms License, commonly referred to as an “FFL”, after a four-month process filled with plenty of paperwork and red-tape roadblocks along the way — a process which typically takes only 60 days.
“The (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency) told us that we couldn’t be a nonprofit and sell firearms,” Debbie said. “It’s just an ATF rule that you have to make a profit.”
The setback didn’t stop the Taylors, however, nor did it deter their “giving back” mentality. Instead, Debbie and Michael accepted the ATF laws, received their FFL and have since sold several hundred firearms to the Marshfield and Webster County communities.
As for that whole profit thing?
“We’re selling most of our firearms for just about $35 over cost,” Debbie said. “That makes it very affordable for people who want to own a gun, and still lets us give back, in a way. We also donate a lot of our profits to the fire department, to the schools and local clubs, and really to anyone in need.”
For example, the shop was set to receive a Colt 1911 pistol Oct. 23, and planned on pricing it just a little over $700 — a stark contrast to the hefty $1,000 price tag the highly-coveted firearm usually carries at most gun dealers.
The Taylors profit margins are so thin, in fact, that Debbie doesn’t even cut herself a salary for her hard work managing the shop.
“I tried paying myself last year, but it just didn’t work out,” Debbie said. “But it’s never really been about making money.”
Though Taylor Arms and Ammo has quick turnover on most of its inventory, Debbie said the store usually has plenty of options, from long guns (such as rifles, shotguns, carbines, etc.) to pistols and other small arms, as well as an assortment of ammunition options. Debbie said the store is also interested in buying and trading, although only new firearms are being considered for purchase at this time.
The shop also completes custom orders as well, ranging from the much-sought-after 1911 pistols to high-end Kimber firearms. Debbie said the shop also has a highly-efficient paperwork and background check process, which can typically be completed in under 30 minutes, and can process FFL transfer transactions for out-of-state buyers for just $15.
Debbie and Michael also work closely with Marshfield Police Chief Doug Fannen in providing customers a source for concealed carry permits.
“For people who are interested in that, we just get their info and text Doug, and he usually calls them right away to set something up,” Debbie said. “We’ve had him call the customers before they even leave the store. And he’s backed by the (National Rifle Association), which is a big deal.”
Being a firearms dealer certainly has its tough times, Debbie said, from dealing with ongoing government red tape to waiting on wholesale ammunition orders for months at a time. And there’s also the fact that several people in the community still don’t know the store exists, Debbie said.
But all of that is unlikely to slow the Taylors down from their service-minded business — a business they hope to expand and make available to even more Webster County residents.
“The whole point of this thing, when we started it, was to give back to the community,” Debbie said. “This community has been so good to us. People have taken care of us over the years, so we want to do everything we can to take care of those same people. It’s all about giving back.”
Taylor Arms and Ammo is located inside the Marshfield Thrift Barn at 900 W. Washington, Suite 200 in Marshfield, and is open 8:30-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays.