By Kathy Brown.
There’s a new store in town: Higganum Outfitters.
Higganum Outfitters, located at 310 Saybrook Road, will carry outdoor supplies, and housed within that, will be Lionheart Militaria which will sell firearms.
Peter Leonardo, a Haddam resident, will open the doors for business on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. The store will be open Thursday and Friday nights, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be a Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Pete moved to Haddam seven years ago. “When I moved to Haddam, Higganum Center was a ghost town,” said Pete. “I remember seeing an old decrepit brick building with vines growing on it. I instantly fell in love! Every time I drove through after that, I thought, ‘What can I bring to this town? What business would thrive here?'”
He has owned and sold multiple businesses, including a military surplus and gun store located in Guilford. “I had the opportunity to open another store in a very high volume area, but chose Higganum. That’s what this town needs, I thought,” explained Pete. “Higganum is a perfect market for a gun/outdoors store, a store that offers everything from fishing to firearms: a One Stop Shop.”
Pete grew up in Wallingford, though he spent a lot of time at his uncle’s flower shop in West Haven. “I learned many things along the way, but the two most important things were to treat your customers like family by offering fair and reasonable prices, and always give back to the community that supports you,” said Pete. He will be carrying chairs from GCI Outdoors, another Higganum business.
Pete is just setting up the store now, but he does seem to have some of everything: fishing poles for saltwater, freshwater, and ice fishing; tactical boots; Army surplus items like MREs, fatigues, and blankets; safety equipment like hearing and eye protection; holsters; pepper spray; gun care supplies; and first aid supplies like Quick Clot, tourniquets, and bandages. They will carry handguns, as well as long guns, both new, used, and antiques, along with ammunition. And they will carry knives, both new, used, and antique. He carries fire proof boxes. In the spring, he hopes to carry more outdoor equipment like kayaks and other water sports.
And in between the merchandise, there’s history. An anti-aircraft gun from WWII era. A rotor propeller off a Huey. Look around, and you will find more.
“Opening my new store in Higganum center allows my company to give back to the residents of Haddam by offering products at reasonable prices that unite families by getting them out of their houses and back into the outdoors,” said Pete. “We all have been locked away due to COVID-19, and now we can begin to get back to normal and enjoy outdoor activities together.”
Pete has a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice and a Masters in Business, and has been in the firearms business for 10 years, providing products and services to the public, as well as specialized military and law enforcement units. He is a certified NRA instructor and will hold classes off site. Pete also does appraisals, estate sales, and repairs.
“It can be very intimidating buying your first firearm,” said Pete. “We are not pushy salesmen. We will help guide you in the right direction so that you feel comfortable and can safely handle anything you purchase.”
Photos by Kathy Brown.