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Rydens' new store to be one-stop outdoor shop

Everything for the outdoors enthusiast has a place in Scott's Outdoor Store (SOS), opening next month at the new retail building next to the Ellsworth Post Office on the village's northwest side.

Owners Scott and Melissa Ryden were busy last week setting up merchandise displays, wall mounts of game bagged on past hunting trips and even an indoor archery range for customers to appreciate and use. As inviting as the interior of the 2,000 square-foot shop is, its many features are bound to make patrons want to head for adventures outdoors.

"It's going to be a one-stop shop," Scott Ryden said Thursday.

An avid outdoorsman himself, Ryden said the inventory will range from guns to bows to fishing supplies. Bicycles and clothing will also be available, his wife added.

Well-known brands Ryden named include Bushnell, Tasco, Leopold and Nikon for guns, Davey Cricket .22s for kids, Federal, Winchester, CC1 and Remington for ammunition, Senblocker for hunting clothes, Rocky and La Crosse for boots, Schwinn, Mongoose and GT for bikes, plus Diamond among at least five lines of bows. The store's being supplied by gun distributors from the Twin Cities and Wisconsin.

"I've ordered 64 guns to start, so there's a lot more to come," he said, noting he'll take trades on guns and bows.

The clothing will offer a local slant, too. His spouse said some will come from the stock of The Panther's Den at Ellsworth High School.

The Techno-Range provides digital archery equipment, likened by Ryden to a poker machine. A computer operates the presentation on a large screen at the end opposite the shooting line (wildlife footage was displayed Thursday); shooters will rely on special tips. He understands he'll be able to plan a Saturday morning tournament and have locals compete against another comparable range in Texas, for instance.

"It's a lot like a live hunt," he said, hoping to have the equipment he obtained from a Colorado dealer up and running by May.

Shooting leagues could take advantage of it in both summer and winter, he said. As for other league action, he plans to sponsor summer shooting for particular audiences each weeknight, such as men's on Mondays, ladies' on Tuesdays, children's on Wednesdays and crossbow on Thursdays, for instance. He'd like to arrange a local school league as well.

Fishing fans will find all kinds of standard gear and live bait, minnows, waxies, leeches and worms, he said. Tree stands will be carried, as will ground blinds, gun safes and telescopes. Future additions being considered are guns on consignment, for which details are yet to be established, and filling CO2s. Some sales over the computer internet are also possible.

"We'll have to see what the public wants," he said, indicating a comment box will be stationed on the front counter for suggestions.

The couple finished the interior of the store themselves. A special ceiling treatment is complimented by the design pattern of the carpeting, and the wall color enhances that theme. A large-screen TV above the range area will show hunting action and equipment demonstrations.

An Ellsworth native, Ryden is the son of Lori and the late Jackie Ryden (whose muledeer mount adorns a front store wall) and has a sister, Cheri Stein of Ellsworth. He graduated from EHS in 1989. During high school, he participated in archery, once a member of the local archery club and formerly active in area shooting leagues. He's long enjoyed fishing, duck hunting, bow hunting and deer hunting.

"Our land adjoined the rod and gun club," he said, mentioning he has memberships in that club along with the Ellsworth Funsters and Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce.

Following graduation, he worked at Amdahl's in Red Wing for a couple of years, he said, the first half in vehicle sales and the second as service manager. Most recently, he's been on the assembly line at the Ford plant in St. Paul, which is expected to close in the summer of 2008. Uncertainty about his job fate dominated his last few years there.

"I'd been flipping it around," he said of owning his own business, explaining he originally thought about having a part-time enterprise, perhaps in east end.

He'd talked with long-time friend Scott Gulbranson of JoJo's Jewelry and Gifts (which occupies another part of the same retail structure as his new store), assessing prospects for tapping this area's outdoors market. So when Gulbranson and wife Joanne decided to proceed with buying the lot between Dr. Shines Car Wash and the post office for a relocation of their jewelry outlet, they approached the Rydens with a proposal for the outdoors store to occupy the same site.

One of the first major efforts was obtaining a federal gun dealer's license, he said. He met with a federal agent a couple of times, completed extensive paperwork, submitted to a background check, complied with local ordinance, met photo requirements and more.

"You have to have a storefront," he said of the ever-stricter regulations. The license is renewable every two years.

The Rydens committed to their new venture approximately a year ago and have worked on its premises since he left Ford the first of this year. Their five-year-old daughter, Brooklyn, who's just enrolling in kindergarten, has already said she wants to leave school to help at her dad's store. Meantime, she comes down and "feeds the fish," her mom said.

Scott's Outdoor Store will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week initially, although the owners said those hours could be changed depending on the outdoor sports season. The public is invited to come in person at 300 N. Maple St., Suite C, phone 273-4416, e-mail to or visit .