Big Daddy Unlimited:
A Retail Success Story


A recent theme in articles and the Letters to the Editor columns here at Shooting Industry is the “kitchen table” dealer versus the “brick-and-mortar” — replete with stories of good people who started in the first category and moved to the second.

Let’s look at a success story that began in this same way, and grew with a different, innovative approach that combined the personal-defense market with Second Amendment advocacy and a “co-op” concept.

Tony and Sherrie McKnight weren’t “gun people” until a decade ago. They were into online marketing of weight-loss and skin-care products. Sherrie had a conservative radio talk show. She believed in the Second Amendment along with the rest of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but didn’t own a firearm.

When shortly after his re-election, then-President Obama came out of the closet and called for an “assault weapons ban,” she told Tony it was time for them to get active on Second Amendment issues.

The McKnights jumped in with both feet, cruising the gun shows and buying 19 firearms for themselves.

Being into sales, it seemed logical to Tony he should get an FFL if only to save money on their own purchases. And things snowballed from there.

They told Shooting Industry laughingly, “Like so many other gun dealers, we began in our garage.”

Adding Brick-And-Mortar

The McKnights immersed themselves in learning about guns and in learning about the gun business. Tony reminisced, “Distributors gave us blowback about not having a storefront. So …”

The first Big Daddy gun shop was in leased space in a strip mall. Why the name?

“It sounded cool,” Tony explained with a smile. “Cool” became a business theme.

From the beginning, the shop focused on personal-defense firearms and related accessories. Tony happily recalled, “I told the distributors’ reps, ‘Keep your bolt guns, keep your double barrels. I want to sell cool guns!”

Sherrie chimed in with a big grin, “At first, he only wanted to sell guns you’d find on ‘Call of Duty.’”

The theme worked. Soon there were Big Daddy shops in Gainesville and Ocala, Fla.; Columbus and Valdosta, Ga.; and Columbia, S.C. They presently have some 75 employees on their payroll.

A hallmark of the operation was, from the beginning, customer interaction. The McKnights feel listening to their customers is of overriding importance to retail success. As Sherrie put it, “We were literally two turnips who just fell off the truck.”

“Remember, we were new to guns,” Tony reiterated. “We started out with just guns, no scopes or anything. When a customer would ask about an accessory, my answer was, ‘You teach me what this is for and how to use it, and I’ll order it for you.’ We learned from our customers, and still do.”

Tom and Sherrie McKnight have built their brand by
offering the "cool factor" to customers.

Accessories are a crucial component of Big Daddy’s business model.

Tony revealed, “Firearms are actually only about 20% of our business. Ammunition is another 30%. The rest is accessories.”

When the company recently morphed into Big Daddy’s Unlimited, it was (and remains) largely an online business.

Tony informed, “We offer about 57,000 unique items. A great deal of our business is in gun parts: barrels, carriers, etc.”

A unique component of the business is its co-op approach. Customers purchase a membership and — online or in person — receive deep discounts.

“I wanted the $9.95 membership fees to be our profit center and to pass on the savings to the customer,” Tony said. “Our motto is ‘Second Amendment Rights At Prices You Can Live With.’”

Commitment To Second Amendment

Big Daddy’s has established tremendous customer loyalty. One reason for this is a strong, unwavering and high-profile commitment to gun owners’ civil rights.

When they moved into their new Big Daddy international headquarters in Gainesville in 2013, the 30,000 sq. ft. complex included Freedom Hall, which can accommodate 250 people. Freedom Auditorium can seat 90, and a terrace can hold 150 attendees for parties and “meet and greets.”

The McKnights formed the American Gun Coalition to “educate, motivate and activate people into the Second Amendment Movement.” The organization distributes decals to businesses welcoming concealed carry, and sponsors political events at Freedom Hall and elsewhere, introducing legislators to firearms hands-on at a local gun club range.

In March earlier this year, they hosted an open house that included a visit from pro-gun Congresswoman Kat Cammack (R-FL 3rd District).

In one busy decade, the McKnights went zero-to-60 — from their garage to a sprawling retail firearms empire. The co-op concept, responsiveness to customer input and an aggressive commitment to gun owners’ civil rights appear to have been a most-successful formula.

You can learn more about this unique operation at