So I went to Abercrombie and Fitch to buy a gun…
Today, a phrase like this generates quite a bit of confusion. Since when did this retailer sell firearms? Reading through the various records here at the Cody Firearms Records Office though solves this mystery.
Before its rebranding, Abercrombie and Fitch was a well-known sporting goods store, which first opened in the 1890s. For many decades the store was full of upscale hunting, fishing, and camping equipment before rebranding began in the late 1980s. Reading over Winchester’s records shows gun after gun being shipped to Abercrombie stores, some from as early as 1949. Abercrombie and Fitch is not the only surprise when it comes to former gun dealers.
In the days of yesteryear, firearms were a more prevalent part of life with more merchants selling them to accommodate the interest. Large department stores such as J.C. Penney, Sears, Roebuck & Company and Montgomery Ward were at one point known for a much broader range of products then are seen today. These stores published catalogs from which a buyer could purchase anything from a house to a firearm. Some records show these companies purchasing guns as early as the 1920s.
Today, many of these businesses have been rebranded creating a bit of confusion when their names appear in firearms records. All of this information serves as a way to reflect upon how significantly the role of firearms has changed in the United States.