"Ruffs Sporting Goods "

I just got back from a short trip to Northern Arizona. I was visiting a college friend whose family lives up in Prescott. By the way, that's pronounced Pres-Kit. Not Pres-Scott. It's a common error, and you will get corrected if you make that mistake with a resident.

Regardless, I spent four years living in northern AZ. I love that part of the world. Northern Arizona is always a surprise, never what you expected. It's a unique corner of America, filled with inherent contradiction. It's in the southwest, but gets more snow than parts of New England. It's surrounded by desert, but home of the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the world. One part tree hugging hippie, one part lumberjack. Crystal carrying new age sages and Bible thumping preachers.

It's a little wacky.

Case in point. There's a little store on Milton Street up in Flagstaff: Ruff's Sporting Goods and Groceries. I haven't been to Ruff's in a few years, but I doubt much has changed. Ruff's, like most everything else in Northern Arizona, is not what you expect. It doesn't conform to the conventional wisdom as to what a sporting goods store should be. Ruff's, you see, is a combination liquor store and gun shop. So for the most part, Ruff sells only three things.

1. Guns 2. Alcohol 3. Porn

Sure Ruff's also sells ammunition, snack foods, and beef jerky, but the bulk of the merchandise consists of a wide variety of firearms, alcoholic beverages, and pornographic magazines. As such, the average patron of Ruffs can exit the building drunk, armed, and horny. This scares me even today.

"Howdy Ruff! Let's see…I'll take the 12 gauge on the left, two boxes box of buckshot, a bottle of Jack Daniel's - no the big one - and… oh…how bout a copy of Jugs - no make that a Hustler. And throw in some Doritos. "

I wonder if he has regulars…

Regardless, it's a dangerous combination of stimuli and a good recipe for disaster. Let's get some depressed, unemployed logger intoxicated and put a gun in one hand and his…

Well, you get the idea.

It just seems like too much testosterone for a normal male brain to handle. Sure, this sounds like the average weekend out for a professional wrestler, a Navy SEAL, or the governor of Minnesota, but this store is right next to NAU. Good judgement isn't the hallmark of nineteen-year old kids.

But if you think about it, ol' Ruff is just practicing smart marketing. He understands and caters to his unique market segment. He is truly customer focused and market driven, a master merchant of masculinity.

If there ever was a store that catered to the most primal needs of man, it's Ruffs. Ruffs helps men intoxicate, masturbate, and obliterate. Talk about hitting the mark. How much more testosterone could you possibly pack into one building? I imagine Ruff's expansion plan. With a little investment, departments for power tools, lap dances, and dirt bikes.

The franchise rights alone could make him rich beyond imagination. Why, I can envision successful franchises in Jacksonville, Tulsa, Casa Grande, Bakersfield and nearly anywhere in Texas. Actually, that's not totally true. In Texas, they wouldn't allow the porn, but he would cover those losses with profits from the additional sales of beer.

I'm gonna have to swing back in there on my next trip through Flagstaff - see if anything has changed. It's probably good for me. The next time I find myself enthralled with Home and Garden TV, in a deep discussion regarding the right accent colors for my new living room set, or seriously considering the purchase of black vinyl pants, a trip to Ruffs might be just what I need. But who knows when I'll be back up there. Until then, the next time you find yourself passing through Northern AZ and have a hankering for a sixer of Bud and a new 9mm, remember to stop by Ruffs.

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