ATF shuts down gun store; city may buy out its lease

Imbert & Smithers at 1144 El Camino Real in San Carlos. Google photo.

This story was first published in Friday’s Daily Post. If you want to read the important local news stories first, before they’re lifted by the other papers, pick up the Post in the mornings at 1,000 Mid-Peninsula locations.

Daily Post Staff Writer

ATF has shut down long-standing San Carlos gun store Imbert & Smithers, and now the City Council may take over the gun store’s lease.

Many San Carlos residents have been outspoken in their opposition to gun stores, so anybody who wanted to replace Imbert & Smithers would have faced an uphill battle.

Imbert & Smithers’ was barred from selling guns by the ATF on Dec. 31, 2022 due to what attorney Richard Pierce says were technical errors on paperwork. The Post requested information from ATF on Imbert & Smithers’ federal license being revoked, but did not get a response.

After the store’s license was revoked, owner Jeana Rolsky-Feige began looking for a new gun store to take over the space at 1144 El Camino Real. But because of San Carlos’ strict gun store rules Rolsky-Feige had six months to find a new store to take her spot, according to a report by City Attorney Greg Rubens.

Rolsky-Feige told the Post that deals with other gun stores fell through, and ultimately decided that taking the city’s deal was best for her and her family.

In 2017, Turner Outdoorsman submitted an application to open a store on Industrial Road near REI. The application sparked ire in the community, at a Nov. 13, 2017 meeting, about 100 residents spoke, many in favor of halting Turner Outdoorsman from opening.

Strict regulations

Following the outcry, the City Council passed a moratorium on gun stores from opening in town. In 2019, the council inposed rules severely limiting where gun stores would open, to ensure that they would not be near schools, parks, preschools and other community gathering places.

Imbert & Smithers’ long time location was grandfathered in, but if a new gun store applied to open up there, it would not get approved.

As a result, the city is offering to buy Rolsky-Feige out of her lease. It will pay Imbert & Smithers $390,000, covering her lease for the rest of the year. The city would then pay the $7,300 monthly lease until it expires on noon Feb. 1, 2027, according to Rubens’ report.

The city doesn’t have a set plan for the property just yet, but Rubens’ report suggests that businesses that may be displaced by the city building housing on recently purchased lots could take over the 1144 El Camino building.

Store dates back to the 1960s

Imbert & Smithers has been in business since the 60s, with Rolsky-Feige’s father, Alex, purchasing the business in 1989. Rolsky-Feige said her family is the third set of owners of the store.

The Post asked Rolsky-Feige if she felt the city tried to push her out of business after passing stringent rules on gun stores in 2019. Rolsky-Feige said while some restrictions seemed “a little over the top,” she never felt pushed out by the city, and is appreciative of the city’s offer.

“I’m sad there will be no more gun shops will be in the area,” Rolsky-Feige said.

Those wishing to buy guns must now either go to Burlingame at Coyote Point Armory or to one of the three or so in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Imbert & Smithers’ closing comes as Redwood City next door deals with its own gun store moratorium, similar to what San Carlos dealt with after Turner Outdoorsman submitted its application.


  1. Why should the city buy out their lease if the ATF yanked their license? Once the license is gone, no more business. Tough luck.

    • Technical they don’t have a right to close the store. When your government comes for gun , just like Hitler, next the gas chamders, and so on

      • The City did not close the store. The owner lost their license from the ATF and closed it at the end of last year. We offered to buy out their lease and they accepted our offer.

        • @Ron Collins, the commenter ID’d as @Sam Jones didn’t say the city closed the store. Read it again. He said “government.” In this case, the store could no longer operate as a gun store because ATF pulled its license, an arm of the federal government known for making up its own rules.

          The fact is, you and the other council members have written such a highly restrictive gun ordinance, no future gun stores will ever open in San Carlos. Responsible people who need to protect themselves from harm by purchasing a gun will have to spend their money elsewhere.

          Oh, and how many mass shootings have there been by responsible gun owners who purchase their weapons legally?

  2. Because with proper legal representation they could have gotten their FFL (Federal Fire Arms) license back for the duration of their lease. Albeit,the lease would not have been renewed. Sad because it was a small family business paying taxes to the community and county. The fact is the people of the Peminsula whom choose to excersise their 2nd amendment rights,which is in the Constitution, can order them online amd have them shipped in.

    • Shipped in where ? They can be ordered on line and shipped but NOT directly to a customer only to an FFL like the one just shut down.

    • Shipped in where ? They can be ordered on line and shipped but NOT directly to a customer only to an FFL like the one just shut down.

    • Shipped in where ? They can be ordered on line and shipped but NOT directly to a customer only to an FFL like the one just shut down.

  3. I wouldn’t for any reason live in California Earthquakes smog an less not forget crime even with their so called gun laws it cost to much to live there with so little freedoms high gas prices along with taxes really why don’t they just separate for the rest of us to live in there on little world

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