Jun 30, 2022 - Business

Tombstone Tactical moves into old Western Savings building

Tombstone Tactical in the old Western Savings bank branch building at Metrocenter mall in Phoenix
Tombstone Tactical now occupies the old Western Savings building at Metrocenter. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Tombstone Tactical has moved into the old Western Savings building at Metrocenter, giving one of the Valley's most distinctive pieces of architecture a new occupant.

  • The building is along the western side of Interstate 17 between Dunlap and Peoria avenues.

Driving the news: Brian and Candice Smith, who own Tombstone, which is a gun store, bought the building in December 2020 after its previous tenant, Souper Salad, closed shop.

  • Tombstone Tactical's original Phoenix location is still next door to the old bank building, but the Smiths were looking to expand, Brian tells Axios.
  • The store opened in the former bank building in April.
  • Smith says the old building will serve as a warehouse and call center, and there are plans to offer training classes there as well.

Between the lines: He says both buildings were nearly lost to eminent domain. The city of Phoenix told Tombstone Tactical, Souper Salad and HUSTLER Hollywood several years ago that they all needed to find new locations to make way for a light rail line that will cross over Interstate 17 to Metrocenter.

  • Phoenix was going to turn the old Western Savings building into an open-air station where people could access the light rail platform, but it ultimately changed its plans, Smith says.
  • Souper Salad went out of business right when Tombstone Tactical outgrew its original building.
  • "We absolutely loved the design of the building. But it was kind of a perfect tsunami," Smith tells Axios. "It just kind of made sense."

Details: The Smiths exposed the exterior of the old bank vault that had been covered up.

  • Smith said he plans to put up a plaque to inform people that it’s the original vault from the Western Savings branch.

Tombstone Tactical's first location opened in Chino Valley in 2010, and the Smiths opened their Metrocenter store in 2014.

Zoom out: Metrocenter Mall closed in 2020, but the property is being repurposed into a mixed-use development with apartments, retail space, restaurants and other features.

Flashback: The Western Savings building, which opened in 1974, was designed by architect Wenceslao Sarmiento.

  • The distinctive building features arches that adorn the outside of its circular structure, with vertical ribs extending up from the roof and narrowing into a cone.
  • Sarmiento also designed the iconic Phoenix Financial Center complex at Central Avenue and Osborn Road.
  • Smith said the Western Savings branch went under in 1980, and to his knowledge the only occupant of the building since then has been Souper Salad.

My thought bubble: I grew up in north Phoenix and spent much of my youth at Metrocenter, so the distinctive Western Savings buildings will always have a place in my heart. I'm excited to see someone new move in.

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