ST. GEORGE — Local entrepreneur Brendan Dalley had what he said was the perfect setup: He and a friend had their own brand of ammunition manufactured, and they sold it out of a truck beside the road.
Dalley told St. George News they were doing pretty well.
“We were selling between 2,000 and 5,000 rounds a day,” he said. “Until the city sent a cease and desist letter.”
Dalley said he and a friend got the idea a few years ago. They wanted to start their own business, but they didn’t know what kind. So they brainstormed till they landed on two things.
“We both like golf,” Dalley said, “and we both like guns.”
With that, they decided that they would build custom putters – and they would manufacture hunting gear, including ammunition.
“This was before the ammunition shortage,” Dalley said. “Since then, our business has steadily grown.”
The current ammunition shortage was brought on by the national conversation surrounding guns, Dalley said, which has only become more urgent in the wake of two mass shootings in the past week.
“There’s an irony,” he said. “Every time Democrats start talking about gun laws, gun sales rise. When gun sales rise, it follows, ammunition sales rise, too.”
According to reports from the FBI, which tracks gun sales through its National Instant Criminal Background Check System, nearly 40 million guns were sold in the U.S. in 2020. In January 2021 alone, over 4 million guns were sold, the highest monthly sales since 1998.
“Because of that, a lot of ammunition shelves were empty,” Dalley said. “That kicked in the toilet paper effect. People see no ammo on the shelf, so they buy it up wherever they can get it.”
Dalley said that it’s not just people who’ve joined militias that are sweeping ammunition off the shelves and into their baskets.
“It’s those of us who still believe in – and value – the Second Amendment,” he said. “We just want to protect ourselves from criminals and, should we need to, the government.”
While they started selling their munitions online, Dalley had another inspiration.
“We saw a guy selling pine nuts one day,” Dalley said. “We thought, ‘We should set up to sell our ammo like that guy.’ We would take our stand wherever we could set it up and sell directly to the community.”
That’s how the Pew Pew Pine Nuts brand, and strategy, was born, said Dalley. Though he’s currently vice president of business development and a loan officer at Envision Home Loans, he’s also an entrepreneur and a professor who taught behavioral communication at Dixie State for 10 years.
So he had a bit of fun with the marketing copy. The box of 9mm FMJ (full metal jacket) ammunition he showed St. George News announces that the bullets inside are “organic” and “fresh from farm to chamber.”
“Not all ammunition is created equal,” he said. “These are great for target practice, while our other brand, the X-Truder, is home-defense ammunition. It’s a hybrid hollow-point, which means that the bullet will make a wound cavity but then stop, so you don’t have a stray hit an innocent bystander.”
When Dalley got his license from the city of St. George, he was enthusiastic about connecting with people in the weapons community. He set up shop on a dirt lot at the intersection of Mall Drive and Dino Crossing. And, Dalley said, they did pretty well.
“The community was there almost immediately, because there’s a trust between people who love guns,” he said. “There’s an instant camaraderie. And if they know you’ve got ammo, they’ll keep coming back.”
It wasn’t long before Dalley ran into trouble, though. First, it was area business owners, Dalley said.
“I got feedback from the community that these business owners were upset,” Dalley said. “They were badmouthing us, but I can’t figure out why.”
Dalley said that when a first-time gun buyer looks for a new gun, that person expects to buy ammunition too.
“Because some of the stores in town were out of ammo, they couldn’t sell their guns,” Dalley said. “But if these prospective gun owners could get ammo from us, they could then go to the store to buy their gun. I’m actually helping business in the area.”
Then Dalley said he got a call from a policeman who had become aware of mounting complaints against his roadside ammo sales business.
“He said I should be aware of the complaints,” Dalley said, “and then we talked guns for a few minutes. He said I wasn’t in trouble.”
But then about three weeks later, the cease and desist letter from the city of St. George arrived in the mail.
“The letter said I had violated an ordinance,” Dalley said. “I thought, ‘Okay, fine. But why wasn’t I told this when I applied for my business license?'”
When St. George News reached out to the city of St. George, David Cordero, city communications and marketing director, said that Dalley’s license was still valid and in good standing.
“The license allows for conducting business online, selling to wholesale retailers and trade shows,” Cordero told St. George News. “The cease and desist letter was in regards to his street vending, which is not permitted.”
Dalley said that St. George isn’t friendly to small businesses. He also feels as though he may have been unfairly targeted because of the complaints of business owners. Still, he’s trying to stay positive and keep moving forward.
“I just want to find a way to be compliant,” he said. “If I can’t sell here, I’ll check out Washington City and Hurricane. This is really about building community and creating prosperity.”
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.