One of the staples of the City of Dawsonville, Appalachian Armory & Off Road, recently received two grants from the city and is in the process of renovating and expanding in the downtown area.
Owners Lynda and Keith Hudson opened their business 12 years ago, starting out as a home business and participating in local gun shows before they opened their storefront in downtown Dawsonville seven years ago. Now, they are expanding again into the building directly next door to their current location, which is at 40 Highway 9 North off of the city square.
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According to Keith Hudson, he and his wife have been in the process of remodeling the building next door, which used to be Hayley’s Boutique but has been vacant for the past 22 years. This has included redoing the floors, re-roofing and gutting the building, repairing wiring and HVAC systems and more.
The Hudsons applied for grants to help with the expansion process, and recently they were informed that they would receive a $25,000 grant from the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), as well as an additional $1,300 grant from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). With this money available to reimburse the funds they had already put into the project, Lynda Hudson said that they were able to speed up the process and make progress happen even more quickly towards the grand opening of the new space.
“With the rising costs of materials, and materials are still continuing to rise, it was just a huge help with enabling us to get this finished,” Lynda Hudson said.
With the new building, Keith Hudson said that their business’ total space will almost triple, allowing them to offer more inventory as well as more space for their son Zach to provide his gunsmith services to their clients.
“Our showroom will a little more than double; basically we’re almost three times the size that we were as far as square footage,” Keith Hudson said.
On Wednesday Nov. 9, several city officials gathered at the new building to present the Hudsons with the $25,000 check for the grant from the DDA. Mayor Mike Eason said that, while the Hudsons have rented their current building for the past seven years, he’s excited that they are the owners of the new building and expanding it as the owners.
“What we’ve got is an owner operation here, so the owners are operating out of their own building; what I’d like to see is more of that,” Eason said. “One of our big problems is keeping tenants, but if you own the building you’re probably going to stay there. We’re pleased with the fact that they were able to use this money to open sooner, to move the process along, and we encourage people to shop with them.”
Dawsonville City Council Member John Walden said that businesses like Appalachian Armory & Off Road are exactly the kinds of businesses that he, his fellow council members and the city are glad to support in order to pursue their goal of revitalizing the downtown area.
“I like to see the money going to the right thing revitalizing the buildings here — I think that’s a major step for the city. I'm really impressed with such an old building like this, how good it looks,” Walden said. “I think the citizens of Dawsonville should be excited and proud of what these people are doing, trying not only to keep the heritage look of it but bringing the inside up to date.”
Director of Downtown Development Amanda Edmondson added that she’s grateful that the city is able to provide grants to people like the Hudsons, because in the long run it will help not only their business but all of the downtown area.
“I’m thankful to city leadership for bringing the opportunity and to the Hudsons for taking the initiative to use it and put it to good use, because like John said ultimately it’s strengthening the entire local economy and making it more vital and resilient,” Edmondson said.
Keith Hudson added that, without the funding from the city, the project would have taken a lot longer, so he and his family are thankful to have the city’s help with the expansion.
“It lets us do it right and it lets us get it done a lot faster; without it it would have pushed it a lot further down the road,” he said.
The Hudsons hope to have their business expansion ready to open in the next couple of months, and said that they’re excited to share the renovations and expanded inventory with the public.
For more information about Appalachian Armory & Off Road including updates once a grand opening day has been set for the expansion, follow the business on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/people/Appalachian-Armory-Off-Road-Inc/100064866573013/ or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/appalachianarmory/.