Shortly after meeting the woman who would become his wife and years before opening Straight 6 Archery, Casey Smith shared with her his dream of owning a bow-hunting store.
“We literally had sketches of what a store would look like. One night, I even made a shoebox diorama laying it all out," Smith said.
For five years, Smith worked at Costco in Missoula, and said his hope at that time was to move up the ranks of the company. He went through more than 20 internal interviews for promotions and jobs at other stores, but was never offered a better position.
All the while, Smith kept thinking back to his previous job, working at a bow-hunting store in town, The Archery Center. He said while there, he often thought of what he would do with his own store, and through the years started to write down ideas, keeping the dream in the back of his mind.
In January 2014, after another interview for a promotion didn’t pan out, Smith decided it was time to make a change.
“I don’t do stuff halfway. I decided I needed to chase this 100 percent,” he said.
He left his job, got in touch with his friends Ryan Revis — who works in the banking industry — and Eric Siegfried, the founder of Missoula’s onXmaps, to ask for help starting a business plan, and told Jessica he was going to take the plunge and start an archery store.
“We stayed up late for probably three weeks until midnight or 1 a.m., writing out a full business plan so we could get a bank loan,” he said.
In May 2014, just months after quitting his job, Straight 6 Archery had its grand opening, and has now passed three years in business, with Smith saying he’s had 30 percent growth in business in the last year alone.
“Across the country, it’s been a bit rough for the industry. A lot of shops have been closing down. But we’ve been doing really well and we’re just getting started,” he said.
To make sure he stays relevant, Smith said he closely follows what’s new and popular with bowhunters and adapts quickly to meet demand.
“If something hits the internet and gets hot on social media, I get it in stock right away,” Smith said.
Every time he sells someone a bow, Smith follows it up with a handwritten thank-you note to make sure they know he appreciates their business.
Within 10 years, Smith said he’s hoping to open as many locations and expand to other states. But the first addition will be right here in Missoula, and Smith hopes it will be open by the end of the year.
“We’re getting started on building a big indoor range. I want it to have 24-hour access like a gym, with classes, leagues and the ability to host regional tournaments,” he said.