Those Who Serve: Robbins Business Specializes in Public Safety Supplies
The oldest retail store in the county has a new tenant.
Robert Jarman moved RJ Sports out of his home and into the John L. Frye building in downtown Robbins. He opened for business July 5.
“When I opened up … I didn’t have everything in stock yet,” Jarman said in an interview Monday. “It was the first day I could open, so I did.”
Some of what he sells is for anybody, but his real focus is on things needed by fire, police, sheriff’s departments, rescue squads and other such public agencies.
“My direction — and my logo — is ‘serving those who serve others’ with retail sales of public safety equipment and supplies,” he said. “The company name came from when I was selling guns and ammunition — hunting rifles, shotguns. I also have a tax preparing company.”
RJ Sports was already organized and registered, so he kept the name and expanded his inventory. He would like to be known as the most economical supplier around for uniforms and other supplies a fire or police station needs.
“I’ve been traveling around to all the different departments in all the counties around,” he said. “That’s what I do on Mondays and Tuesdays — just leave them my information, catalogs, let them know what I’m doing and where I am. For now, the store is open Wednesday through Friday and half a day on Saturday.”
RJ Sports is in the former ladies’ section of Frye’s, with entry from the rear of the building. He will sublet the front entrance and former men’s section with Dink Frye’s old office to another dealer. He’s been talking with David Cheek to see if he’d like to move his Southern Collectibles across Middleton Street.
“We would work well together,” Jarman said. “We’ve known each other a long time. He mostly does trading — he’ll trade a gun for a lawn mower or a lawn mower for a gun — and has rare and collector’s items. I stock only new.”
RJ Sports’ move to midtown Robbins meant a visit from, and an inspection by, agents of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) — a law enforcement agency under the office of the U.S. attorney general’s office. The ATF must inspect and approve premises used by arms dealers. Jarman had to make the old store building secure enough to pass federal review.
Originally from the eastern part of the state, Jarman moved to the Piedmont after meeting a Westmoore woman.
“I was born and reared in Carteret County, down in Beaufort,” he said. “I met my wife, Judith Anne Moore, in Greensboro, and she was from Westmoore, so I moved.”
He had spent years in international trade, dealing in industrial work supplies — primarily gloves — first as accounting manager, then plant manager, and finally president and half-owner of John Plant Co. in Ramseur.
His company made and sold everything from the basics to more than 100 styles of cotton lisle gloves, cotton glove liners used under latex exam gloves, and other industrial protective gear such as sleeves, cuffs, tubing, helmet liners, finger protectors, cut-resistant versions made from Kevlar and chemical resistant varieties like neoprene, latex or nitrile disposable gloves.
“I traveled all over the world,” Jarman said. “I set up manufacturing in Germany. We had a plant in Sri Lanka, one in Malaysia at one time. The material was knitted in Ramseur, where we stamped the pattern. Then we sent it to Mexico, and they delivered the finished gloves back.”
Jarman said he got tired of dealing across the border with other countries, other cultures.
“That’s the reason I retired from that type of business, sold out my stock and resigned as president of the company to start RJ Sports back in 2007 out of my home,” he said. “Now, I go walking out in the woods, and the dog and two cats walk with me.”
He is minding the store by himself for now and building up his stock.
“I tried to have a wide selection of rifles, shotguns and semiautomatic weapons,” he said. “Different calibers, different ammos. We stock Kershaw knives. I am still stocking up on things like cleaning kits, scopes, lasers – other products. We have all types of flashlights.”
RJ Sports already stocks many brands and styles of protective gear — things for eye protection, respirators, safety vests, reflective rainwear (rainsuits, coats and boots), aprons, coveralls, shoe covers, lab coats, work and police garb for harsh conditions.
Safety items include
helmets, face shields, safety cones, and — of course — gloves.
After more than 40 years with one company, rising to owner and company president, then selling out for semiretirement, Jarman couldn’t quit.
“I’ve always worked — since I was 5 years old,” he said. “Worked tobacco on the farm for Mom and Dad. I was an only child. Mom is still living. She’s now in her mid-80s and lives with us.”
Just the four of them live in his wife’s family home place above Robbins: Jarman, his mom, his wife, their dog and two cats. He retired, but wanted something to do. RJ Sports was the result.
“I like to work,” he said.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or
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