(PHOTOS L to R: Cecil expands Green Top in the early 1970s; Andy Clay working the gun counter in the mid-1980s)
The new sign at the front door identified the business as Green Top Sporting Goods, Incorporated. By now, the ‘service’ part of the old sign no longer applied to selling gasoline. Service had simply become an integral part of the Green Top way of life. Crowning the new building, Cecil installed a blaze-orange 'GUNS' sign that could be seen by airplanes and glowed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Cecil expanded Green Top’s fishing and hunting product selections with an approach that made sense to him—adding quality gear that he had field tested in the woods or on the waters. He always wanted to stock equipment that he and his team members could recommend with confidence. It was a formula that worked. Outdoor enthusiasts who came to Green Top not only went away with the right gear, but with expert tips and advice that made them better at their craft and enjoy the outdoors even more.
Cecil’s legacy lives on through the many lessons he shared with any who came under his wing in those early days. Always challenging his employees by example, Cecil assembled a team eager to learn more and outwork the guy/gal next to him while always putting the customer first.
When Cecil retired in 1993, a locally famous department store retailer, Charlie Thalhimer, took the helm and built on Cecil’s tremendous instincts for team building and product selection. An avid fisherman, Charlie nearly doubled the size of the inventory by expanding the fishing department to rival the store’s hunting selections. Under Charlie, Green Top became a true “one-stop shop” for the outdoor enthusiast.
A Modern-Day David & Goliath Story
During those pivotal years of transition for Green Top through the 1990s and early 2000s, the store seemed to always be bursting at the seams with gear and customers. Then, in 2008, national sporting goods retailer, Gander Mountain, surprised everyone in the area by opening a giant store about a stone's throw away from Green Top.
Gander Mountain’s 67,000 square foot showroom loomed like a threatening shadow for four years, but the Green Top family of loyal customers and pros hung together and weathered the season. In the end, Gander Mountain had to close up shop, and that gave Green Top the opportunity to move into their old location, where we’ve been ever since.
Green Top’s new space dwarfed Cecil’s original one-room station, but it was his vision that carried us forward. True to our roots, the Green Top team culture and focus on the customer experience came right along with us and continues to this day with our current President & CEO, Blaine Altaffer. Blaine grew up along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and is himself a devoted hunter and fisherman. So, he knows the market and proudly guides today’s team into the future while keeping an eye on the rich legacy of Green Top’s past. Cecil’s Idea of Making Green Top the Place to Be Continues with Our Annual Green Top Outdoor Expo:
Early one morning in 2016, Blaine was walking from his truck across Green Top’s parking lot while the trade show he had just attended was still fresh on his mind. Suddenly, he looked all around him at the 5+ acre parking lot and grounds and began envisioning Green Top hosting an outdoor expo event of our own. That following fall, we held our first Outdoor Expo in celebration of our 70th anniversary. The Outdoor Expo has now become the largest outdoor sporting event in the mid-Atlantic drawing enthusiasts from across the region and manufacturers from all over the world.
Each fall, we proudly host this free, family-friendly event featuring hundreds of sporting-life vendors, product demos, and exhibits—plus industry expert meet & greets, great food, live music, children’s activities, and so much more.
Green Top Shooting Range
To provide our customers with more opportunities to safely enjoy the products we sell, Green Top acquired and renovated a shooting range facility conveniently located just three miles away from our store. We opened on December 7, 2019 fulfilling the vision of offering a world-class range where shooters of all experience levels would hone their skills and receive expert training from NRA-Certified instructors who live up to Green Top’s standards of professionalism and customer service. Customers responded and membership grew exponentially.
Our range has a high-efficiency air filtration system and three shooting bays, each composed of eight lanes equipped with a fully automated target retrieval system and ballistic glass shooting stalls.
Each shooting lane is equipped for casual shooting, as well as tactical shooting training and practice with handguns, rifles and shotguns. Lane dividers of bullet-resistant glass create a private environment that allows shooters to feel comfortable and reduces distractions. Sound absorbing surfaces also reduce fatigue and facilitate Student-Instructor interaction.
The target retrieval systems are quick, accurate and easy to operate. And the air filtration system is state-of-the art. Dust, dirt, smoke, pollen, odors, bacteria, mold and many other contaminants are constantly filtered from the air inside the shooting bays. The HEPA filters in the final stage recycle every cubic inch of air every 90 seconds.
Hourly rates for walk-ins are available, but membership is, by far, the best bargain and comes with privileges that we offer to members only. All yearly memberships of the Green Top Shooting Range include unlimited range time, six guest passes per year, access to our firearm rental program PLUS 2 free firearm rentals as well as monthly/quarterly specials. To learn more about becoming a range member, visit our website here.
Green Top Online
An in-person visit to Green Top isn’t always possible for customers. So, for folks who can’t just hop in the car and drive across town, we aim to make it easy for you to browse the store from the comfort of your couch, boat, back porch, or tree stand.
In 2020, Blaine made it a top priority to improve Green Top’s online presence. The team quickly ramped-up the delivery of trusted brands and expertise all across the nation. We now serve every state in America with the same dedication, excellence, and friendly service that our founder instilled in his team from the beginning.
To this day, enjoying the outdoors isn’t just a hobby to us, it’s a lifestyle. We still take the gear home for the pure fun of it—whether at the range, in the woods, or on the waters. Every piece of equipment, clothing, footwear, and gear that we recommend is field-tested by our team.
Some Things Should Never Change