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BEST DEFENSE ARMORY & RANGE — FOREST LAKE, MN

In 2018, the Lakes Trading Co. gun store and shooting range in Forest Lake experienced a major fire which crippled the business. But through adversity comes great opportunity! New owners have rebuilt the store to create an even better firearms sales, training, and shooting range experience. The new owners are US military veterans who are excited to bring their vast experience and new vision to the newly renamed Best Defense Armory & Range.

The new retail store architecture by PlanForce includes a number of exterior improvements and converts the space for use as an indoor gun range. The renovated building design includes a public retail space, as well as a private club room, two shooting ranges, and support areas.

An Elevated Design

The Best Defense owners wanted to focus on the customer experience and create a space that would be unexpected. That meant designing a floorplan with fewer linear feet of shelf space, in favor of a more expansive feel than many traditional retail stores. The primary retail space includes a small lounge area, as well as a few different retail “pods” for sales and gun rentals.

We also wanted to maximize the VIP clubroom room experience. It took a lot of fine-tuning to get all the details right, and the final space looks very refined. We used color and texture to elevate the customer experience and create beautiful spaces. The horizontal batt and board wall in the VIP Clubroom is very unique to that room. It provides a fun vernacular and a great way to emphasize their brand giving it that clubroom feel. On the sales floor, the combination of industrial and contemporary design elements effectively showcases their products.

Responding to the Fire

There were a few technical challenges in leveraging the existing fire-damaged building shell. PlanForce needed to selectively demo a few locations while adding additional supports to carry the new precast concrete lid that we put on the shooting range. Because of the previous fire, we worked closely with the local authorities to add a fire wall, which brought the existing multi-tenant building more into alignment with current building codes.

The final building design creates a unique experience for customers and members looking to rent and purchase guns and rifles at a local, veteran-owned shooting range. The updated store also fills the void in the community that was left when the previous facility burned down.