For about $30, Paul LaVista will put a submachine gun in your hand and let you blow apart your ringing telephone. "Nobody really wants to be Rambo," says LaVista, owner of BulletStop, in Marietta, Ga. "Everybody just likes to fantasize about it."
They like it so much, in fact, that LaVista is aiming to open four more outlets over the next year, some of which will be franchised. While he won't disclose any numbers, he claims sales and profits have been going great guns since he opened about two years ago. Customers can choose among 35 submachine-gun styles, from the Colt M-16, the current favorite of the U.S. military, to an Israeli-made Uzi.
BulletStop provides conventional police training targets, but customers are invited to bring along targets of their own -- anything, "as long as it's in good taste." Telephones, televisions, and vacuum cleaners are common choices, but, says LaVista, "computers are very popular." About 30 to 40 people make the rounds on an average day, although a hostage taking or an action movie can trigger bigger crowds.
LaVista says he was approached recently by investment bankers seeking to take his company public. But he said no and promptly blew them, uh, off.
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