The Selbyville Town Council this week approved a new home-based business selling firearms. At the council’s regular meeting April 1, they unanimously voted to allow Douglas Helfer and Phil Oneschuk to open Main Street Trader LLC in a detached garage at Helfer’s residence at 20 South Main Street, across from Hastings Funeral Home.
The shop would sell rifles and shotguns — and perhaps pistols — as well as ammunition, clay birds and the like. The shopkeepers will also teach classes. Oneschuk said sales of archery supplies are less likely for the business, but it all depends on what their clientele requests.
The Selbyville Planning & Zoning Commission recommended the business be approved after a March 20 meeting. Under Selbyville town code, sporting goods retail is an allowable use in the historical business district where the home is located.
Helfer and Oneschuk are halfway through the process of obtaining all the proper licenses and permits from agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. A license is needed to store more than one pound of “black powder,” or gunpowder, on the premises.
Both entrepreneurs are in the construction business but said they are looking for supplemental income as they get older. They saw a market need in Selbyville, as Oneschuk said many hunters have to go to Ocean View or Berlin, Md., for supplies.
Currently, Oneschuk noted, people are buying guns at an extraordinary rate, but sometimes, he said, people are selling guns for the wrong reasons.
Murray asked about security at the shop.
“We ourselves are concerned about security,” said Oneschuk, adding that two insurance companies have expressed approval of the shop.
Handguns will be stored in a safe, while long guns will be cable-locked, and windows will only be installed near the ceiling.
Council members noted that others sell firearms in Selbyville, so the major difference for Main Street Trader would be the classes. Oneschuk said six to eight people would study in the shop, but target practice would be held outside town limits. Classes would run for several weeks, for a total of nine to 16 total hours. Topics might include gun safety, gun use or permitting procedures.
“The class part is good,” said Mayor Clifton Murray.
Ammunition and firearms cannot legally be sold together, so the shopkeepers would physically walk the purchases out of the shop separately if a customer needed both.
The current garage on the property is old, so the entrepreneurs plan to replace it with a sturdier, slightly larger building of around 22-by-36 feet, including a 4-foot porch. Half the building will be retail space, and the rest will remain private residential garage space.
They aim to open the business in June, but construction may take longer. The building façade will match the house but still obviously appear to be a separate garage.
The owners planned to limit operating hours to Friday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday. They will be available Monday through Thursday by appointment.
When asked about parking, Oneschuk said they will respect other retail lots. On the rare occasion that customers overfill Helfer’s property, the municipal parking lot is available. They said representatives Hastings Funeral Home had also approved use of its lot when services are not being held.
If Main Street Trader gets too big for the current location, they might move to a new location, possibly on the highway, the entrepreneurs said.
In other news from the April 1 council meeting:
• The Town will enter an agreement for Department of Corrections workers to mow the Route 113 medians from the Maryland border to the Holly Kia auto dealership. Mowing begins in July and will happen biweekly, at a cost of $300 — the same cost as last year. Mayor Murray complimented the typical standard of work.
• The Town hopes to schedule a public hearing with Mediacom soon to discuss a possible renewal of their franchise agreement.
• Dickerson said the Town is working with the Victoria Forest community, having reviewed some issues according to the Title 7 of the Delaware Administration Code regarding creating stormwater utilities. He distributed a draft letter to homeowners, emphasizing the importance of organizing a community program by at least forming a maintenance association to maintain their own infrastructure.
• Selbyville is still re-sampling the newly-dug town wells after a test in one showed a spike in methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), said Councilman Rick Duncan Sr.
• In February, the Selbyville police department had 180 calls for service, issued 162 tickets, collected $5,154 in fines and made 17 arrests.
• Discussing a proposed recreational storage building, Dickerson said a pole building may cost $35,000, while a completely furnished space could cost $100,000. He said he is still researching prices.
• Councilmember Frank Smith III thanked wastewater operators Jim Burk and Bettina Stern for preparing the Town’s industrial treatment report, which earned an EPA score of 98 percent.
• The council unanimously agreed to award Quality Exteriors Inc., a $33,800 contract to replace roof shingles at the wastewater treatment plant, noting that metal roofs would be too pricey.
• Officials reported that people have already begun registering vehicles for Old Timer’s Day in June.
The next Selbyville Town Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 6, at 7 p.m.