Sunday, September 23, 2001

Fear boosts sales

Buyers snap up guns, gas masks

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        News of the terrorist attack encouraged some Tristaters to buy guns, but the attacks triggered a run on gas masks in the Tristate.

        “Flags and gas masks are the items of the day, every day,” said Judy Polasky, owner of the Army Goods Stores in Fairfield and Covington. “People say they saw something on CNN and they've been calling (about gas masks). We've had several hundred calls.”

        A prediction that Osama bin Laden will soon unleash chemical and biological weapons is behind the stampede for gas masks, which has wiped out local inventories.

        “(Gas masks) are not generally a big seller,” said Jim Methard, owner of Desert Storm LLC Paintball Games in Eastgate.

        “The only time they really sell is around Halloween or when things like this happen, like back during Desert Storm. People think (the terrorists) are going to drop bombs with chemicals.”

        Mr. Methard said he had a pallet of gas masks but is completely sold out and, like Ms. Polasky, is awaiting shipments.

        “They normally sell for between $20 and $25, but the distributors are jacking up the price to $30 to $50 because they're hard to get,” he said.

        Meanwhile, a number of new gun buyers visited Costello's Gun Shop in North College Hill last week.

        “It started on Tuesday, Sept. 11,” said owner Frank Costello. “We were basically cleaned out of paramilitary ammo. We've seen an increase in sales of both guns and ammo ...”

        Purchases have been made to a mix of old and new customers, he said.

        “People anticipate a lot more terrorism or attacks. What's the Boy Scout motto? Be Prepared.”

        Bromwell Espy, owner of Norwood's Hawken Shop, said he's seen a slight increase in gun sales. Recent events might not lead to individual combat on our soil, but that scenario misses the point, he said.

        “People think it's time that they be able to defend themselves,” he said.“A lot of people need to address their personal security.”

        It was a good week for gun sales at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, said Larry Whiteley, a spokesman for the chain, “But then, it's fall hunting season.”

        The chain has a store in Forest Fair Mall.

        “We carry a full line of sports firearms: rifles, shotguns and pistols, but those are not usually the kind you'd get for protection.”


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