If you have saved and treasured your BCS ClientTells since the first edition in 1995, you’ll know that Mahoney’s was our very first client feature. Dan Mahoney says not much has changed in 22 years, except maybe a new location and high-tech products.
Dan’s father, Moose, opened the store in the 60s and used Carl Childers for his accountant. “We’ve trusted BCS for over 50 years, before even Charlie Steagall joined Carl and Joe.”
Fifty years ago, Mahoney’s looked a bit different than it does today. “Sunset Drive was a little two lane road and this store was in the middle of nowhere. In fact, our address was listed as North Johnson City,” said Dan.
When Dan got out of the Army in the early 70s, he became involved in the store. “We’d go down to the train station and buy a train car full of sugar. If water got in the car, they considered the whole thing damaged, even though most of the bags would be fine. Johnson City had four bootleggers at the time, and they’d come buy their sugar from us,” Dan said. “Sometimes we would go to Knoxville and Bush or Stokely would sell us their dented cans, and people would come from all over to get discounted dented canned vegetables.”
When Johnson City was a major furniture upholstery center, Mahoney’s cut and sold custom pieces of foam rubber. “We bought it from the manufacturer in Morristown, it looked like big loaves of bread, we’d cut it into whatever size piece that the upholster needed. We made mattresses, and in those days, a foam rubber mattress was high class!”
In the 70s, Mahoney’s supplied the foam rubber to JC Penney’s for pillows. “We couldn’t keep up with their orders, we couldn’t make them fast enough.”
“They figured out how to plug the leaks on train cars, the forklift operators at the canneries got better at their jobs, and the upholsterers in town went out of business. So that’s how we got started in outdoor sports. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, and no one else in Johnson City was selling outdoor sporting goods, so we thought we’d do it,” said Dan. “I remember going to Inner Arms in Washington D.C. and buying our first load of guns.”
Elvis is the most famous patron of Mahoney’s, although Dan mentioned several other musicians, such as KISS and Charlie Daniels. “Nobody bothered Elvis when he came in, we didn’t close the store, he was just like anybody else.”
Now, Mahoney’s is the premier destination for outdoor sporting goods in the region, with stores in Johnson City and Abingdon.
"What I really like to tell people in the store is that a man can never have enough guns and woman can never have enough shoes!" said Dan. You'll find plenty of both at Mahoney's.
Photos by Peter Nelson Photography.