We Kick Brass Meets
Challenges Head On


Dawn and Mike Perez wear many hats at We Kick Brass — the FFL
has experienced rampant growth since opening May 2020.

When Dawn Perez, owner of We Kick Brass in Jupiter, Fla., decided to open a gun store, she had no idea what she was getting into. But she’s a force of nature.

Perez has met every challenge put in her path with grace and determination, despite opening her store during a pandemic, and then learning she was unexpectedly pregnant.

Starting Out

Perez’s story begins with COVID-19. She had five young children, including a newborn infant. Because one of the older children was being treated for cancer and had a compromised immune status, the family went into complete isolation when Florida shut down mid-March 2020.

“We couldn’t really do anything, so my children and I started a business,” Perez stated. “We originally started with a T-shirt shop. We would get orders for T-shirts and make them ourselves and then send them out.”

Perez quickly learned the T-shirt business was not for her.

“We absolutely hated it,” she confessed. “It wasn’t fun for us.”

Then Dawn and her husband, Mike, talked about getting deeper into the firearms industry. They already were frequent visitors to the local shooting range, and they often take their kids along to shoot. Not only were they frequent shooters, both Dawn and Mike also are NRA Certified Instructors for basic pistol who spend considerable time training other shooters. They were already selling a few accessories and an occasional box of ammo to their students.

“We had already built a name for ourselves where we live in Loxahatchee,” Perez shared. “Everyone kinds of knows us there and recommends us for instruction.”

At this point, Perez and the older kids had the idea to start a mail-order business for ammunition and shooting accessories. She filed the necessary paperwork with Palm Beach County in May 2020, got the business license and got down to work. They set up some industrial racks in their living room, created a basic e-commerce website and started selling small amounts of ammunition from their house.

A Big Surprise

After numerous late nights at home, Perez realized it wasn’t sustainable and started looking for a retail space. Despite the shutdown, and many challenges related to both the pandemic and dealing with ATF, she found a space and opened her doors May 17, 2020. They went from a small mail-order company to a fully operational retail store in less than two months, although she didn’t have her FFL yet. Not long after opening, however, Perez had a big surprise. Late July, she discovered she was pregnant again.

“We weren’t planning for another baby,” she said, “but being pregnant and being a mom doesn’t stop you from being in business. So, we kept going.”

One of Perez’s first challenges was getting a continuing supply of products to sell. She and Mike already had good relationships with several ranges in southeastern Florida, and she very quickly started developing contacts with other retailers in the area. Soon she became a part of what amounts to a small, informal buying group.

“We order in bulk with several other gun stores,” she shared. “We order tons of pallets, not just one. So, we’re able to get pallets here and sell ammunition faster than we could otherwise. Don’t get me wrong; sometimes it takes a long time to get things. But we have good connections in the gun community now, and it helps us.”

The Perezes also went to several distributors and asked to be in their networks. They figured out when each distributor was loading product onto their websites and were sitting at their computer to place orders.

“We would be up at 4 or 5 in the morning buying from the websites,” she said. “We’d take turns being on all night long searching our distributor sites. We would wait for products to drop, and we would grab them. It got to be like a game for us. We still have to do it. Products are becoming more available than they were, but it looks like it’s all going to happen again and we’re getting prepared for it.”

Adjusting To Rampant Growth

The store started with just ammunition and accessories, but Perez knew she wanted and needed to be selling firearms also.

“It took us a while to get our FFL,” Perez recalled. “The first thing we had to do was have a space to sell firearms.”

Dawn and Mike found a small warehouse space in an industrial park between Jupiter, Fla., and where they live in Loxahatchee.

“Once we found our space we applied for our FFL early 2021,” she said. “It took us six weeks to get it; it was really fast. We didn’t expect it to be so fast. We started ordering firearms in February.”

Because they had already purchased a lot of accessories, they found they could order firearms more quickly than they expected.

“We called our main distributor, RSR, and shared we were having trouble buying firearms,” she noted. “We pointed out we had already spent thousands of dollars with them. They looked at our account and said ‘Wow, you spent over $200,000 with us in two weeks.’”

We already have people interested in franchising with us so we can have the same kind of store in other states.”

Dawn Perez, Owner We Kick Brass, Jupiter, Fla.

The RSR rep who was handling the call shared, “I’ve worked here for more than 30 years and I’m taking over your account and making you a priority.” The rep now calls Perez every day to make sure she’s getting everything she needs.

“We’ve grown unbelievably fast, to the point we can’t keep up,” Perez noted. “Most of our presence is online, and we are able to get our hands on ammunition. When we were small, we might have packed 20 boxes a day, but we have more than $200,000 worth of orders going out a month now.”

The number of boxes they send out each day can be as high 200 or more, depending on what shipments they’ve received.

When she gets a big order of ammunition, Perez shared, it’s all hands on deck.

“Some days we’re here packing thousands of boxes because people order one box of ammo,” she said. “We’re projected to do very well by the end of the year this year.”

Perez’s next big challenge was early May 2021, when her son Ian decided to arrive almost a month early. He was born just as she was moving the business into the warehouse. Mike pitched in at the warehouse and shop while she took care of Ian, but by late May she was back at the store full time.

On The Move — Again

This August, Perez was met with yet another challenge. Her landlord’s insurance company — after approving the lease to a firearms retailer in 2020 — decided it wouldn’t cover any losses if the lease was renewed to We Kick Brass. Perez was once again faced with finding a space to have a warehouse and storefront.

“We were left with only 30 days’ notice to move our warehouse,” Perez shared. “So we brought everything back home because it was such short notice and I haven’t done any research on zoning or anything else. But we talked to someone at ATF, and he said we could temporarily move to a space within the appropriate zoning.”

But even this latest wrinkle hasn’t slowed her down.

“Our online sales are still going, and our new website should be published soon,” she added. “Our new website integrates with RSR, our back office, shipping and everything else.”

Perez expects to be open in a new location within a few weeks. Her aspirations go far beyond just having a storefront, however.

“Within five years, we plan on franchising,” she declared. “We already have people interested in franchising with us so we can have the same kind of store in other states. That’s our goal.”

Despite her recent entry into the industry, Perez expects the business to flourish.

“We got into this industry, and we all love it,” she concluded. “We come to work together, we pack boxes together and we go to the range together. It’s something we all truly enjoy and love; it doesn’t feel like work.”

It’s been nothing short of a whirlwind for the Perez family over the past 18 months, but their success shows what commitment, business nous and grit will bring to a fledgling business.

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