With a diverse history of business experience, the Hawkins combined their knowledge and skills in the effort which materialized at 75 Old Mill Road in Cartersville.
A warm interior finished with rock and rough wood welcomes guests to the retail outlet offering, as the name implies, footwear and firearms as well as clothing, home decor, knives, hunting gear and outdoor supplies.
Boots and Buckshot has been a labor of love for the couple, who take pride in the accomplishment of business ownership since opening the doors on July 4.
"It took about 10 months to deck this place out and build it," Rick Hawkins said, in reference to the building's retrofit and build-out. "We are self-funded -- this business came from savings, not a loan or anything like that. I am really proud to say that."
Gun sales in recent years have been strong nationwide and Boots and Buckshot has already seen that trend locally. Their firearms department has started off well with an noticeable upswing seen in sales to women.
"We've seen a big increase in sales to females," said Rick Hawkins. "I think that the people of Bartow County have a strong sense of self reliance and the purchase of guns enhances that self reliance."
Expounding on recent trends, Denise Hawkins recalled her daily commute to Atlanta for 25 years. Protection and peace of mind are among the reasons she carries a firearm and why she feels other women are doing the same.
"Not only have women gone into the workplace," Denise Hawkins said. "Women's limits on what were acceptable for us to do have expanded. And how many little girls grew up on Christmas morning watching their dad open a gun and getting excited and then going out and shooting with their dad and hunting? And I think for a lot of women now it's O.K. to embrace that love they have from the way they grew up with their families and shoot competitively or be hunters."
Denise Hawkins also looks forward to expanding that side of the business with the addition of educational courses and competition shooting teams organized through Boots and Buckshot.
"One of the things I look forward to, is offering some educational opportunities to teach people through women's firearm classes and [ammunition] reloading seminars," she said.
Boots and Buckshot is currently in the process of adding a shoe repair workshop within the store to continue a tradition began by Rick Hawkins' father.
"Denise and I are both life-long entrepreneurs. I began working at the age of 10 in my father's shoe shop," Rick Hawkins said. "I have just as much fun and joy in rebuilding a work boot as a 12-year-old boy does building a model airplane."
Once a Cartersville staple, the Hawkins owned and operated Fred's Shoe Repair and Boot Store. Rick Hawkins bought the store when his father retired and hopes to grow that part of the business.
"At Fred's Shoe Repair, we enjoyed 50 to 60 industrial accounts. We have already resecured two of those since opening," he said. "We look forward, as soon as we get over our grand opening phase here, to regaining all those accounts."
With a doctorate in pharmacy from Mercer University, Denise Hawkins has a very different work history but also was raised by a passionate father.
"My dad's a minister and I'm an only child, so I went on all the calls with him and played the piano in church for him and taught Sunday school and all that stuff since I was a little girl," Denise Hawkins said. "I grew up in Virginia with my dad -- shooting, hunting, fishing. We'd hike the Blue Ridge Mountains all the time and that instilled a love for the outdoors."
Through their combined efforts and shared passion for the outdoors, Rick and Denise look forward to becoming a part of the community and establishing their own legacies.
Boots and Buckshot, 75 Old Mill Road, is typically open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. This week, however, Boots and Buckshot will operate on extended holiday hours for Christmas shopping. Normal operating hours will continue today followed by Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 770-334-8463.