BELTON — Elliott Sibille had no real intention of selling tactical clothing and accessories for a living when he logged onto eBay two years ago.
He was a student at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor looking to make some extra money by selling some of the uniform items left over from his years in the U.S. Army.
“I think the first thing I sold was a raincoat,” Sibille said. “I found out that there’s a market for the stuff.”
Sibille said he saw an opportunity, and started ordering items directly from the manufacturers — jackets from Condor, vests from Phenix Gear, boots from Bates, handcuffs from Uzi.
All of the items were sent to him and all of them were stored in his garage.
“I started out strictly on eBay, but pretty soon we had a website,” he said gesturing to his wife, Jessica. “It turned out to be pretty good money.”
Jessica Sibille said the money coming in was enough for Elliott to leave UMHB after one semester.
“I started wondering how much I could make if I was doing it full time,” Elliott Sibille said.
Two years later, he and his wife were looking at a small storefront in downtown Belton, he said.
“We liked the location,” Jessica Sibille said. “And we didn’t have to do much build out. It was perfect, really.”
Elliott Sibille said in the age of disappearing brick-and-mortar retail, one of the reasons he wanted to open a physical location was to build the trust with his customers that can only come from face-to-face interactions.
“The reason we opened the store is so that people can try things out,” Elliott Sibille said.
He pointed to a display case filled with reflex and holographic sights.
“Like these sights,” he said. “People want to get their hands on them before they buy.
Elliott Sibille’s belief that people still value being able to try things before they buy them has already started paying off.
In the week since the shop opened, “we’ve already had people drive down from Waco and up from Austin to take a look at some things,” he said.
Despite the store’s name, Centex Tactical Gear, the inventory doesn’t just consist of polymer hand guards with Picatinny rails that are compatible with AK-47 variants and 42-round magazines for AR-15s.
The store gets in “about 400 new items per week” and some of the most popular items are just as useful for hiking as they are for hunting or the military, Elliott Sibille said.
“A lot of people are interested in the first aid kits,” Jessica Sibille said.
The competitive pricing and the discount for active-duty military and law enforcement officers probably don’t hurt when it comes to attracting customers.
Centex Tactical Gear is at 202 E. First St. in Belton.
Store hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.