Kurt Schienbein and Rick Glad would be the first to admit that their business partnership is a pretty unlikely one.
The two met for the first time a few years ago in a Crow Wing County courtroom as bail bondsmen. “We actually kind of got in a fight,” Schienbein recalled.
With the past long behind them, Schienbein and Glad opened Brainerd’s only exclusive gun shop — Jessey James.
Yes, Jessey with a ‘Y.’
“Everyone asks the same question,” Schienbein said about the unique spelling of their business’s name. The name, after the infamous American Outlaw, is close to that of the TV personality and former owner of West Coast Choppers. “I didn’t want some millionaire coming after me asking for money I don’t have,” Schienbein joked. “We just wanted to play it safe.”
Both Schienbein and Glad work for A-Affordable Bonds in Brainerd — the business formerly located in the current Jessey James storefront. When A-Affordable relocated to the former public defender’s office on South Fourth Street — just a few doors down from the former location — the bonds company resisted selling the building so another bonds company wouldn’t move in. Glad said A-Affordable Bonds owner, Adam Buffington, continued to pay the rent on building until they could figure out what to do with it.
That’s when the idea for the gun shop came.
Glad said the name ‘Jessey James’ has more personal meaning for both him and Schienbein.
“We both ran on the other side of the law, but we’ve been sober a long time,” he said. Schienbein said he’s been proudly sober for 10 years and now works with A-Affordable clients to help them get on the right track. “I don’t care who you are — everyone is affected by addiction,” he said.
Schienbein and Glad said that Jessey James gun shop was not a venture they were planning to pursue. “It just kind of fell together,” Glad said. “It was meant to be.”
Among the arsenal of firearms adorning the walls of their shop are weapons dating as far back as the Civil War era. “You don’t get that at the big box stores,” Schienbein said.
Since opening last June, Jessey James Gunshop sold 94 firearms — not bad, says Schienbein, for a small, mostly used firearms storefront. “We’re not getting rich and going to Tahiti or anything, but sometimes we get free guns,” he said. “Life is good.”
Schienbein said Glad runs the gun shop while he manages the bail bond business. “Rick is the backbone of this place,” he said.
The pair joked that with their business being next to the bail bonds office and across from the jail there is potential for some interesting characters seeking to purchase firearms. “It’s not quite that simple,” Schienbein laughed. Glad said the majority of Jessey James patrons are gun collectors looking for used guns and senior adults who just enjoy talking about guns. He said some repeat customers visit two or three times a week. “They want us to get better chairs in here,” Glad joked.
The pair said the business wouldn’t have happened without the help of family and friends. Schienbein said when the business was just starting family friends John and Diane Ocel handed him a check for $10,000 to help them get started. The money covered the cost of the store’s inventory. Schienbein and Glad’s friend, Jamie Dietman, designed the sign out front. Schienbein’s son-in-law, Levi Duffney, redesigned and remodeled the storefront at no cost. “I just have to give him guns for the rest of his life,” Schienbein joked.
“A bunch of people that care about us — that’s how this place came to be,” Glad said. “When everyone is behind you it makes you want to work harder.”
SARAH NELSON KATZENBERGER may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5879.