Fairfax couple, longtime customers, took over at gun shop on Feb. 1
By Scott Thoma
After owning and operating Little Crow Shooting Sports for over 35 years, Jim Condon has passed the torch to Charlie and Mindy Noreen of Fairfax.
“They will do a great job,” Condon said. “They are friendly people who have been customers here for many years, and they are very knowledgeable about guns.”
The Noreens officially took over on Feb. 1 after working with Jim since the beginning of the year to learn the ropes of the business. They have two children, Lincon, 11; and Anastasia, 9.
“We wanted to do something for ourselves,” Mindy said. “We’ve never worked together before but it’s nice to have everyone together. It’s a change for us being a boss rather than an employee, but we both have our strengths, and we try to use those strengths to our advantage.”
Charlie and Mindy are no strangers to guns. They are each avid participants in Cowboy Action Shooting competitions throughout the country. Each have won several state competitions. Even their children have competed in events.
“I’ve been shooting guns for a long time,” said Charlie. “I’ve been a customer here for a long time, too. You see a lot of the same customers coming in all the time, so (Condon) was doing something right. We hope to keep that tradition going.”
Little Crow Shooting Sports has a wide variety of guns and accessories on hand. If you don’t see something you are interested in, chances are that the staff will do their best to find it for you.
“I’ve been going there ever since it opened 35 years ago,” said Bryce Callens. “I’ve bought a lot of rifles and handguns and ammo from there. Jim always treated his customers right, and I know (Charlie and Mindy) will do the same. Jim wouldn’t want just anyone taking over his business.”
Callens recently purchased an 1887 Winchester 10-gauge lever arm from the Noreens at Little Crow Shooting Sports.
“They know their guns, and it will be a pleasure working with them, too,” said Callens.
Little Crow Shooting Sports is a busy place no matter what time or day it is open. Gun enthusiasts know what they want, and if it isn’t available, the Little Crow Shooting Sports staff will do what they can to get it for them.
“I’ve been going (to Little Crow Shooting Sports) ever since I went there with my dad when I was a little boy,” said Tom Lambert of Hutchinson. “I’ve always been treated right, first by Jim, and now the new owners. They are honest people and will do a good job for the community. They have a lot of knowledge about guns and will carry themselves and operate just like Jim did.”
Chris Hietala has been a salesman at Little Crow Shooting Sports for several years and is very knowledgeable about the items inventory. Mary-Annette Hunter is the gun broker and internet salesperson.
The Noreens have made the transition to owners without any large bumps.
“We’re still learning something every day,” Mindy said. “But we love it. It’s something different all the time. Jim still stops in often to check up on us and see if we have any questions. We’ve known him a long time. Our kids even call him ‘Grandpa Jim’.”
One customer outside the store said he has never been disappointed when making a trip from out of town to Little Crow Shooting Sports.
“It’s worth traveling 30 miles to get what you want,” he said. “And I’ve always been treated well by Jim, and now the new owners and their staff. They go out of their way to please their customers. It helps that they are gun enthusiasts, too, because they know that each customer prefers a certain brand or style, and not everyone wants the same thing.”
“You don’t see a gun shop this busy all the time anywhere else,” his companion noted. “When you are treated right and can get what you want, you keep coming back.”
Little Crow Shooting Sports carries over 1,000 top-brand firearms, as well as ammunition and gun accessories such as suppressors, scopes, targets, and cleaning kits.
Also available is a full line of various-sized and priced vaults for keeping guns and ammunition locked up and away from harm’s way when not in use. Portable safes for vehicles are also available.
Little Crow Shooting Sports, located on the north side of Hutchinson, operates in a 3,500-square foot building.
Because of his many contacts over the years, Condon is still assisting the Noreens by helping to locate unique and hard-to-find guns.
“We buy, sell or trade,” Charlie said. “Some people don’t want the gun they have anymore, so they trade it in here and buy a different one, just like a car.”
Little Crow Shooting Sports works with several organizations such as the Elks Club’s gun shows, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, NRA, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.
They also appraise guns and dealer-to-dealer transfers.
“I own almost 100 guns that I bought there,” Cassens, 79, of Hutchinson. “I still use some of them for hunting, and some are just for my collection. I’ve gone to many other gun shops and (Little Crow Shooting Sports) offers the best for new and used guns.”
The one thing that sets Little Crow Shooting Sports apart from other gun shops is the “hands-on” experience. Rather than peering at a gun through a locked glass case or from a distance, customers are allowed to get a “feel” for the gun.
“Most gun shops don’t let you touch guns on your own,” Condon noted. “You walk in and ask where a certain gun is, and they will point you in the direction, and you can go and look at them, and that’s it. Customers always told me they liked getting to hold a gun a lot better.”
The Noreens want their customers to feel comfortable asking questions.
“We are happy to answer any questions we can,” said Mindy. “If we don’t know the answer, we will try and find it out for them. We want them to be satisfied when they come here.”
Little Crow Shooting Sports, LLC, is located on Highway 15 north of Hutchinson. It is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are closed Sunday and Monday.
For more information, call 320-587-9829, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website at littlecrowsports.com.
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