On December 12, 2012 (12/12/12), Lori Lilley opened the doors to her new boutique, A Shooting Affair on Fourth Street in downtown Conway, which specializes in shooting accessories for women. She asserts on her business’ Web site [ www.ashootingaffair.com] that this enterprise was born of desperation and frustration: “Desperation from not being able to find what I like - signature shooting accessories that stand out and define who I am. Shooting has always carried the stigma of being a man’s sport and unfortunately most gun shops cater to men. Being tired of black and drab green, the only choices I had to choose from, I set out to change that.”
Lilley, a Conway resident who grew up in Red Bluff, began to carve out her own niche. For starters, she started a quest to find concealment handbags with flair and holsters with panache. “Your typical gun store is geared toward men,” she says. “Women normally like for their accessories to have a little more bling – and when I started looking around for conceal and carry options, there were not any in this area. I said there had to be more than this.”
She started planning for this three years ago with market analysis and research – and began accumulating stock. “I initially started doing some things on the Internet and then decided to go to the indoor flea market in North Myrtle Beach. That was a bomb – the wrong location for me. So here I had all of this stuff and nothing to do with it.”
Her husband, director of Global Police Solutions, LLC and former Horry County Police Officer, James Lilley, suggested that it was time to open a storefront. “It just so happened that I looked at a location in Conway and it came available and I jumped on it.”
Lilley says that animal print gun cases are popular. “I have a large selection of concealment handbags, from designer bags to the least expensive ones I can find,” she says. “I want anybody who wants to carry on their person to be able to do so. The same with holsters. I try to have a wide variety.” And for those who aren’t into guns, A Shooting Affair carries other alternative personal protection items such as Mace key guards and lipstick pepper spray.
A Shooting Affair is also a licensed firearms dealer. “My husband is a master instructor, and we do firearms classes,” she says. “We also do a free weapons familiarization class for women on Tuesday nights at 7 at the store. It’s our way of giving back to the community and, honestly, if you are going to carry I feel more comfortable knowing you know the fundamentals.”
Lilley also maintains a full-time job with the Solicitor’s office, assigned to the Drug Enforcement Unit [DEU] as an administrator. “There again, I saw a need for personal protection for women.”
The Concealed Weapons Permit [CWP] classes, while geared to women, are not necessarily exclusively for women. “Most of the time when people put on classes, they try to fit as many people into them that they possibly can. We wanted to go smaller where women aren’t intimidated and have a little more one-on-one time with them. And we still have men in if women are comfortable with it.”
Weekly Surge asked Lilley for her take on the ongoing gun control debate.
“Guns do not kill people,” she says. “You need to address the actual problem, which most of the time is mental illness. And that is something that is completely swept under the rug. Nobody wants to deal with it.” She adds that guns are not only for self-protection, citing shooting as a sport. “It’s a lot of fun, like throwing darts.”
In this feature, a go-to question is whether people remember there is a beach here. “Barely,” was her response. With her full schedule, we can understand why. But when they can, the Lilleys enjoy going out to dinner at Abuelo’s in Myrtle Beach or Solano’s Trattoria in Conway. And this South Carolina native is staying put. “I’d love for my store to expand, have a happy, harmonious life and retire here.”
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