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Mayor specializes in tackle, ammo, government

The slogan of Jim's Gun and Tackle shop in Proctorville could be changed to "Come for the bait and ammunition, stay for the local policy administration."

For 29 years Jim Buchanan has sold fishing and hunting supplies from his shop at 300 Front St. For 10 of those years, the building has also served as the office of the Mayor of Proctorville, you guessed it, Jim Buchanan.

It's a common practice for customers to come in to discuss local government and to leave with all the gear they need for a weekend of outdoor recreation, an interest which Buchanan said got him into the business in the first place.

"It started out as a sideline, just a hobby, then it turned into a business," Buchanan said. "I do hunt and fish Š more fishing than hunting lately, I'm getting too old to hunt."

Steve Boosinger wasn't in to discuss policy on Friday, but rather to inspect a Ruger in the shop's extensive gun offerings. Boosinger's presence wasn't a surprise since he has been a frequent customer for two decades.

"I stop in every day," Boosinger said, eyeing the gun counter with glee. "I never know when he's going to get a gun in that I can't live without. If you've got a trade-in or something, you stop by so you can keep an eye on what comes in."

The selection isn't all boys' toys; Buchanan's sister Deborah also sells Boyds Bears and other collectables from the shop. Surprisingly, Deborah said that more men buy her bears than women, though the stuffed animals are often meant as peace offerings.

"See, that makes them not feel so guilty," jokes Deborah Buchanan, "They come in and buy this big expensive something-or-other and then they think 'Oh! She's back in the car!' It's an easy gift, they know their wives collect Boyds, so they ask if we have anything new. We put it in a bag and off they go."

Throughout its nearly three-decade history the store has had its share of hardships. Just last summer it met with a minor tragedy when a tree fell and crushed a portion of the store, which had just been renovated and redecorated.

Though Mother Nature may be giving the Buchanans grief, the real threat to the store has been the rapid boom of chain stores throughout the area. Boosinger believes the shop has an edge on the big boys thanks to their exemplary customer service.

"It's just like the scope I brought back that wasn't working. Well, Jim showed me what to do," Boosinger said, "So now I don't have to take the scope back."

As a hunting and fishing fan himself, it's easy for Buchanan to adhere to the Golden Rule when dealing with his customers. It's a recipe for success that he hopes will continue to keep the doors to his shop open and him in the mayor's seat.

"We've just had to make changes to compete with the 'marts,' the Wal-Marts and the K-Marts," Buchanan said. "We've had to adjust down through the years in order to stay in business. It's hard to do sometimes but we're still here."