Thomas McCue and Jesse Lamm

Owner Thomas McCue, left, and Store Manager Jesse Lamm are familiar faces to many local gun owners.

Vista Pawn on Main Street in Altavista has a little bit of everything, but can also be a good place for hunters to pick up a new gun.

Owner Thomas McCue started the store in 2014 as a franchisee of a larger pawnshop he used to work for in Lynchburg. Several months later he became the sole owner of Vista Pawn. Since then McCue said he’s been happy with his business’s performance, and that even during the pandemic he has managed to keep business fairly steady.

“We missed our customers,” McCue said. “There were a lot of people we didn’t see for three months. But it was a very efficient three months.”

Vista Pawn stayed open during quarantine because they were considered a financial institution and therefore an essential business because of the loans they offer as a pawnshop. McCue said he made sure to wipe down surfaces frequently and kept the door locked requiring that customers knock to enter to ensure his store was safe.

Even now that his and most other Virginia stores have been open for some time, McCue said the pandemic has caused somewhat of a firearm shortage. He said he’s even short on other gun-related items too.

“We sell ammo if I can get it,” McCue said. “It’s a strange time right now. Everything is out of stock and very hard to come by. But we always try to carry the most popular ammo, especially for the firearms that we sell.”

McCue said he has a reliable customer base and that he tries to help his customers as much as he can. McCue said he learns about guns from his customers. McCue said .270 or .30-06 are good caliber bullets for the terrain found in nearby areas. He said he might recommend a Remington 700 or a Savage Axis to someone wanting to get into hunting.

Some of the store’s gun distributors include Remington, Savage, Smith and Wesson, Glock, Winchester, Marlin and Taurus. McCue said he sells both new and used firearms.

McCue said he sometimes has other hunting items in stock including scopes, holsters or bows, but mostly sticks to firearms and ammunition in regards to hunting. McCue said he can also help those who purchase guns online but then need to complete the necessary paper work to purchase a firearm in a brick-and-mortar location with a federal firearm license.

Both McCue and Jesse Lamm, the store’s manager, agree that their posts on Facebook about guns they have in stock provides a boost for their sales. McCue recommended that anyone interested in buying a firearm from his store follow Vista Pawn on Facebook. 

McCue said he has had some trouble keeping used firearms in stock, but that he recently added three new long guns to his stock, and that he plans to stock up on rifles for hunting season.

“We’ve relied on our distributors almost entirely to keep our stock up,” McCue said.

McCue said he spends a significant amount of time researching guns he carries or plans to carry to make sure his prices are fair.

“You try to give them the best bang for their buck,” McCue said.