Austin Perkins, owner of St. Landry Lumber
Austin Perkins, St. Landry Lumber owner

Lots of dealers sell some extraneous gear. But what about sporting goods? At St. Landry Lumber in Opelousas, La., it’s possible to buy wood and nails or guns and knives. Owner Austin Perkins knows plenty about both—he’s been hunting and hawking lumber since 1982.

Competing Interests I had a knack for staying busy, so I started doing commercial contracting to try and boost business, because we didn't have any contractors buying with us back then. All of the contractors who weren’t buying with us got really perturbed that we were doing contracting jobs. My dad said, well, in order to keep the peace, do you want to just contract, or do you want to run a lumberyard. I put the contracting aside.

Guns and Lumber A few of the guys that would buy from us were hunters, and they wanted shotguns and rifles. That required getting our federal firearms license, which I got in 1986. I made a point that if we ever built a new lumberyard, I would have a sporting goods section. In 2004, we started on the construction of the new lumberyard, and I made provisions to put one section aside for sporting goods. I’ve expanded the sporting goods section probably four times since then. 

Anyone Buy Both? It depends on the customer. I wouldn’t say it happens every sale. Probably about one out of 20.

Weapon of Choice? When I’m deer hunting, I have an old Browning automatic 270. When I’m duck hunting, I use a Benelli Super Black Eagle.

Season Cycle Usually in the wintertime, it’s cold and rainy, and most of the jobs can’t get going because of the weather. The sporting goods really carry the lumberyard. And then, vice versa in the spring, summer, and fall.

Alternate Reality If I would’ve started a sporting goods store at the same time I took over the lumberyard, I probably would be retired right now. But I love the challenge that the lumberyard presents. I’m going to pass this business down to my children.