Outside Milton Keynes sits the beautiful town of Stony Stratford, where R&K Stockcraft is being re-stocked. Huw Hopkins visits the new owners
New owners Wayne and Katherine Gibbard aren’t hanging around waiting for me to arrive at R&K Stockcraft – when I’m shown through to the back room, they’re as busy as ever, with their heads buried in boxes. The shop name may be over three decades old, but the young husband-and-wife team have brought with them the enthusiasm of a business opening for the first time ever, like two kids who’ve just received their first ever bike for Christmas.
Mike and Andy King previously owned and ran the business, but after 31 years in the trade they decided to move R&K Stockcraft into a new chapter. Both will continue working at the shop for the time being, though, as Katherine explains: “We would like it to continue as a family business so Andy and Mike will be with us for several months while we complete the transition. Hopefully that will reassure customers that there will be no changes to the business, only improvements, and Andy will be our liaison with some of the main manufacturers.”
Mike has been a trusted source for gun-fitting during his time with the business, and he’s passed on a lot of his knowledge to manager Johnny Muston. But while Wayne and Katherine are keen to remember the past, they’re not dwelling on it. “We are going for a complete shop refit,” Johnny says. “There was a wall upstairs last week that’s now gone to show off the original beams. We’re hoping to bring a bit of the shop back to its original glory.”
There is so much light in the building now, whereas before the only windows were in mini alcoves, or staff-only areas. The shop has been completely opened up.
Katherine says: “We will be turning one area of the shop into an open area where customers can use DryFire to test and fit a new gun. It’ll be a specialist, relaxed area that will offer a full fitting service. There is an office downstairs that will become retail space and we will be changing the stairs so there will be more obvious access to the clothing area. It’s a historic coaching house, so we’re treating the wooden beams and bringing them out. We want people to see we’re restoring it, so they can experience the history of the shop and where it’s located in Stony Stratford.”
R&K stocks major airgun brands including BSA, Daystate and Weihrauch, along with a wide variety of airgunning accessories and clothing. Up next in their plans is an open day at Sherrington Shooting Ground on 14 June, with major brands such as Browning, Daystate and Laksen in attendance.
At the shop, there’s already a distinct buzz, with prospective customers eager to poke their noses through the door to find out what’s going on inside. There is still much to do, but it’s easy to see the Gibbards’ ideas becoming reality through the force of sheer enthusiasm. And I can tell that Katherine and Wayne are itching to get back to the renovation, so I leave them to it, knowing I’ll be back again soon.
19 Vicarage Road, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK11 1BN
01908 561298 www.rkstockcraft.co.uk