Lakeland Gun Show Draws In Crowds After Nearly A Year
by James Coulter
Jack Shubert has been collecting guns ever since he was 18 years old. He buys and sells old guns and ammo. He collects plenty of antique guns. Some are more than 100-years-old.
Shubert had been attending the Lakeland Gun Show ever since it started nearly 50 years ago. His love of guns drew him to become a member of the Lakeland Gun Club. He has even served as its president four times.
He loves the club for its camaraderie among local gun owners. He especially appreciates its many education programs, including a program for young children.
The show hosted last Saturday was hosted as an “experiment” to see if anyone would come and support them even amidst these uncertain times. The attendance more than exceeded their expectations.
Shubert loves being able to attend the show. It allows gun owners and enthusiasts like himself to buy and sell guns old and new, as well as ammo, knives, and targets.
“You can even bring your wife,” he said. “Your wife may be interested because there might be a patch of jewelry on the table.”
The Lakeland Gun Club has existed since 1968. Since then, it has hosted its main event, the Lakeland Gun Show. The event allows gun enthusiasts from across Polk County and further to buy and sell guns, ammo, knives, and other gun-related paraphernalia.
The show is hosted at least three times per year in January, May, and November. However, due to the COVID-19 crisis, only the January show was hosted. Both the May and September shows were canceled.
The one-day show last Saturday was hosted as a way to help finance the Lakeland Gun Club following a nearly year-long hiatus, explained Josh Bolger, Lakeland Gun Show Chairman.
“This show was done as a means to recoup, refund the club through the gun show,” Bolger said. “We provide a venue for the vendors and sell tables to the vendor and tickets to the attendees as a means to fund the gun show.”
Since its inception more than 50 years ago, the show has remained successful due to the overall variety of vendors, Bolger explained. Gun enthusiasts love to arrive from across the county to see the different kinds of guns, collectibles, and paraphernalia.
“Some people come to spectate and see what is here and browse and look around,” he said. “Other people come here for specific reasons to buy and sell. But most people come for the variety.”
While many vendors sold gun and gun-related accessories, some vendors sold items that gun owners would appreciate. Mitchell Stockwell, a young college lad, was selling beef jerky from his family’s business.
Stockwell and his father are big gun enthusiasts. His father, who lives up north, is an avid hunter, and they are both interested in gun shows like the one hosted in Lakeland. So they both decided to sell their jerky there.
The choice to sell at the gun show proved a success. Stockwell sold plenty of jerky that afternoon. So being able to attend such shows allowed him the opportunity to expand their market and learn more about their potential customer base.
“People are nice, and they are interested in eating beef jerky,” he said. “I enjoy being here selling beef jerky and selling people who enjoy eating beef jerky and also love guns.”
The Lakeland Gun Show will be hosting another event in January. To learn more, visit their website at: http://lakelandgunshow.com/