Going into business together was a natural step for two like-minded friends with a passion for target shooting.
In March, Greg Mauer and Brian Wachowiak, both of Crete Township in Illinois, launched South County Guns online, and they opened their Cedar Lake storefront June 1.
"Greg and I have been friends a long time. We went to pre-school together. We're both recreational shooters," Wachowiak said.
Mauer said an informal marketing study gave the two the necessary ammunition to opt for a south Lake County location.
"The town of Cedar Lake was great to deal with," he said.
"Our online suppliers carry $3.5 million of product. That gives us access," Mauer said. "There is a misunderstood thing about guns. You can't just order them online and get them shipped to you," he said.
A former general manager with Culver's restaurants, Mauer said he was ready to become his own boss, even though it was a "big leap" for him and his family.
Wachowiak said the two complement each other. Mauer, armed with a degree in communications from Purdue Calumet, is great at sales and marketing and mans the store's daytime hours, he said. Wachowiak's degree in finance from Purdue Calumet makes him the details guy, he said.
Wachowiak works as a steel company project manager during the day and mans the store on weekends. "We're both educated in management. We're both constitutionalists. ... This is about bettering our lives and bettering our families," he said.
A large United States flag serves as a backdrop at the storefront's counter. An array of firearms are displayed along the walls in a well-chosen, but limited inventory.
Mauer said the business does not sell new guns only.
"Sometimes people have passed away and there are guns, but the families don't know what to do with them," he said. South County will buy used guns and also handles trades.
Mauer said the company also offers gun safety courses. "Safety is truly big with us. ... I know my way around guns, but I've learned something," he said of the certified instructor courses.
The duo elected to self-finance their business.
While it keeps the two busy, Wachowiak said, "The stress is so much more controlled here. It's stressful, but good,"
Mauer said, "This is something we have a passion for."
"Firearms may be an issue to some, but it is our Second Amendment," Wachowiak said.
Mauer added, "We're both strong Second Amendment proponents. ... It is a civil right. People lose sight of that."