By Ed Carroll
When one door closes, another opens. We all have heard this paraphrased often enough, as it has come to invigorate an eternal optimism that good things may be made from regrettable circumstances.
In mid-2017, David Cruz was watching one door slowly close. After working 18 years for Holland & Holland—progressing from retail clothing to US operations manager—Cruz learned that the British gunmaking firm was closing its New York City store, where he worked. Cruz faced a dilemma: Good job offers were coming in, but they would require that the city native uproot his family. “That wasn’t happening,” he said.
As the end grew near, an idea formed for a way to build on Cruz’s connections and relationships while staying in his hometown. He approached longtime Holland’s coworker Robert Pearson and said, “Let’s do our own business. We know the client for the traditional side-by-side and over/under, especially for British guns, and we know what the client is looking for.” With that, the door to Country Pursuits & Outfitters opened.
As the business plan came together, support came from longtime gun-buying and shooting clients. One friend from Cruz’s years with H&H, Rubin Cronig, has a custom-watch and scrimshaw shop, Vineyard Time, on Martha’s Vineyard. He joined the effort as a third partner, offering retail space at the back of his shop that since has been remodeled as a gallery with enough space to present 90 guns.
The shop also will feature sporting art, high-end knives, fishing gear and a line of accessories that includes neckties, pocket squares and cufflinks. “We decided to put the lifestyle together,” Cruz said.
The only gun club on the Vineyard is 10 minutes away and offers a pleasant opportunity to try guns during the summer months, when the island is a popular destination.
The shop will be staffed in turn by Cruz, Pearson and Cronig seven days a week in spring and summer. Fall and winter hours will be limited and by appointment. During the busy season Cruz expects to be in the shop from a day or two at a time to a week at a time while commuting from New York.
For the “outfitter” side of the business, Cruz will work with booking agents to organize trips to shooting and fishing destinations around the world and to advise clients on travel. The inaugural trip was this past winter for driven shooting in Wales, and Cruz will lead a small group to South Africa for Cape buffalo in August and has plans for driven shooting in Scotland this fall.
The gun inventory comes on consignment from clients, and Cruz expects to have 60 to 70 on hand this summer. The inventory also will be online. (At press time the guns were being photographed for the website but were expected to be in the shop before the end of May.) Cruz and Pearson also will exhibit at traditional double-gun shows and events, as they did at the Southern Side-by-Side, in April, where they sold two guns—the first of which was a Holland & Holland.