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A dream in the making: Independently Black-owned gun store to open on east side

"Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean the job is not for you"
Ryan Vaden
Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 18:43:58-05

In celebration of Black History Month, We're Open Indy is highlighting Black-owned businesses in the Indianapolis-area. Check out all of the stories at wrtv.com/blackhistorymonth.

INDIANAPOLIS — A man is getting ready to open the doors to what he said, to his knowledge, is the first gun shop independently owned by a Black man on the east side of Indianapolis.

It is a dream more than 10 years in the making for Ryan Vaden. His store, Vaden’s Firearms & Ammunition will open on the city’s east side next month.

“Right now, my Facebook alone is probably 3,300 messages,” Vaden said. “I could care less if it was the first, second or third, but just so happen to be the first, I definitely don’t want it to be the last. How I ended up finding out, so you can go through, backgrounds and you can sit here and check out the race of the [owners of the] business. I couldn’t find not one within Indianapolis that had a storefront that was African American.”

Since 2010, Vaden said he has been working towards opening his own gun shop. He said he would spend hours at the library downtown, studying up on what it would take to get to this point.

“I had my kids with me, and they would just sit there," he said. "They would have one book for them they would like and I would literally just go through those books then and once I got done, I would take information home, file it in a file cabinet, and kind of just build up my education and background.”

Vaden grew up and lives on the east side. He believes across the city, gun education is low.

“Just with the rise of crime I wanted to sit here and put my impact in with the community and others with educating minorities, other races, ethnic groups, and religions on what’s the safety when it comes to firearms,” Vaden said.

Safety and education, Vaden said, are at the forefront of his business.

“When people sit here and see someone that looks like them, someone that is really genuine and passionate, I think that sits here and starts with the curve on changing that,” Vaden said.

As for those that may not want to see a gun shop open in the city, Vaden said: “People that feel like hey why do we need more guns or why do we need more guns on the east side, reason why we need more guns is this has nothing to do with necessarily gun, this has to do with a second amendment right.”

Vaden welcomes everyone and anyone to come to his store once it is open in March. He added he has plans to expand his business both on Indy’s east side and west side at additional locations. The plans include an outdoor facility and tactical course.

“The impact that I want to sit here and give to the community and others is don’t give up," Vaden said. "Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean the job is not for you.”

The address of the store hasn't been publicly announced yet.