The heads of new owners Wayne and Katherine Gibbard are buried in boxes when I’m shown to the back room of R&K Stockcraft. The shop name may be over three decades old, but the young husband and wife team are more excited about this venture than a child unwrapping their first bike at Christmas.
Mike and Andy King previously owned and ran the business, but after 31 years in the trade it was time to move R&K Stockcraft into a new chapter. Old habits die hard, though, as both will continue working at the shop for the time being. Katherine explained why she was reluctant to let the dynamic brothers go just yet: “We would like it to continue as a family business so Andy and Mike will be with us for several months while we complete the transition. Hopefully that will reassure customers that there will be no changes to the business, only improvements, and Andy will be our liaison with some of the main manufacturers.”
Mike has been a trusted source for gun-fitting during his time with the business, and he’s passed on a lot of his knowledge to manager Johnny Muston, and while Wayne and Katherine are keen to remember the past, they’re not dwelling on it, as Johnny explains: “We are going for a complete shop refit. There was a wall upstairs last week that’s now gone to show off the original beams. We’re hoping to bring a bit of the shop back to its original glory.”
There is so much light in the building now, whereas before the only windows were in mini alcoves, or staff-only areas. The shop has been completely opened up.
Katherine says: “We will be turning one area of the shop into an open area where customers can use DryFire to test and fit a new gun. It’ll be a specialist, relaxed area that will offer a full fitting service. There is an office downstairs that will become retail space and we will be changing the stairs so there will be more obvious access to the clothing area. It’s a historic coaching house, so we’re treating the wooden beams and bringing them out. We want people to see we’re restoring it, so they can experience the history of the shop and where it’s located in Stony Stratford.”
When the Gibbards have settled in, R&K Stockcraft will team up with Sherrington Shooting Centre just outside the small town for an Open Day on 14 June. Several companies and manufacturers, such as Browning, Beretta, Caesar Guerini, Hull Cartridge and Lyalvale Express, have already confirmed attendance, with plenty of entertainment available on the day like pool shoots and a 36-bird Sporting competition. Katherine also has big plans to team up with other local businesses on the high street. Her face lights up as she describes the country fashion catwalk evenings she is planning at a local interior business, and the ideas for ladies‘ days.
There is a buzz about place already, with soon-to-be regular customers poking their nose through the door to find out what’s going on inside. And while there is still much to do, by the time you pick up this magazine, the shop will be in ship-shape. It’s easy to see the Gibbards’ ideas becoming reality by sheer enthusiasm, and after being shown around R&K Stockcraft, Katherine and Wayne are itching to get back to the renovation, so I leave them to it, knowing I’ll be back again soon.
19 Vicarage Road, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK11 1BN
01908 561298 www.rkstockcraft.co.uk