By Tristan Hiegler
Business: Go Big Paintball
Owner: Rick O’Connor
Address: 4120 Meridian St., Bellingham
Start Date: June 5, 2010
Square Footage: 900
Phone: (360) 318-7637
Some hobbies are a little more exciting than others. Snowboarding down a mountain or skating across a ramp can pale in comparison to having small globes of paint shot at you at 300 miles per hour by dozens of other players.
Paintball is an intense sport that involves shooting up your opponents not with bullets, but with small spheres of compacted paint. For those who are interested in the sport or have been fans for years, Go Big Paintball on Meridian Street might be just the place for them.
Owner Rick O’Connor, who also owns Blu Sky Creative Services, a web programming and design business, said he and his friends have been paintballing for years and the lack of a paintball shop in Bellingham has put them in some awkward situations.
“Myself and a bunch of other buddies, we typically go paintballing every weekend,” he said. “We’re used to having to buy everything online, and then you receive things that are bought online, sometimes they aren’t what you originally thought you were buying.”
He said he wanted to fill the void in the Bellingham paintball market by establishing a community shop where players can come to get equipment and repairs. He said the vision of Go Big is to have good customer service, a knowledgeable staff and to help grow the sport of paintball.
The business’s website has been operating since November 2009, O’Connor said, and the shop opened its doors on June 5 with people coming in immediately. O’Connor said people were wandering in and buying items while the shop was still under construction.
“We knew there was a demand for it, and because we played it all the time we knew the elements customers were looking for,” he said.
The shop has an enclosed, 25-foot long target range where guns are tested out. Instead of using actual paintballs, customers and staff use small plastic balls to shoot down targets and see what each gun can do.
Beyond selling guns, paint, air canisters, rotors, masks and clothing, O’Connor said the shop will offer gun diagnostics and a customer rewards program that gives back $5 for every $100 spent at Go Big. The shop will be implementing a rental program, through which people can rent guns and buy paint ammo at discounted prices for events or parties.
“We’re about really taking care of the customer completely,” O’Connor said, “and it just kind of comes naturally because everyone who works here is really enthusiastic about the sport.”