Family turns hobby into business at new gel blaster store
WHAT started out as a fun hobby has turned into a new business venture for an Airlie Beach couple who have just opened a new store to cater to a unique interest.
Michael Godden and Lahni Henderson opened Gel Blasters Direct last week next to La Marina Xpress on Shute Harbour Rd.
It's not the first business the couple have taken on as they already run three others including The Laundromat at Whitsunday Shopping Centre and Whitsunday Linen.
Mr Godden said their new venture started as a passion, when he bought a gel blaster for himself and then one for his son.
They both loved it, so two years ago they started setting up a stall at the Lions Airlie Beach Community Markets on Saturdays to share the hobby they enjoyed with others.
From that point on, the shipments of stock got bigger and bigger.
"It got to the point where our house was chaos," Mr Godden said.
About a year ago they started selling gel blasters and accessories through an online store Gel Blasters Direct and now they have continued expanding into a brick and mortar store of the same name.
Mr Godden said the Whitsunday region had embraced gel blasters with a not-for-profit group, Whitsunday Ballers, operating out of Conway and a permanent field set-up at Bowen.
Plans are also in the works to set up a gel blasting field in Cannonvale.
"For a small area there's a good following," Mr Godden said.
"They're a super cool toy and there's the wannabe soldier in everyone.
"It's just like bows and arrows or cowboys and Indians.
"Unless you had a gun licence, you wouldn't be able to have those types of things."
Mr Godden said gel blasting was also affordable, unlike paintball which could be more expensive and also required a gun licence to run a field.
It was also seen as a hobby craft as competitors could tweak their gear to suit them.
Children aged 10 and up are covered by insurance during tournaments and according to Mr Godden, being hit stung "just enough".
"Queensland is the only state where it's legal; there are state leagues, competitions and fields around the state," he said.
"It's so often tagged along with mental health because there's no exclusions, you don't have to be fit, there's no age limit.
"As soon as you come out you'll be greeted and welcomed."
With their new store getting off the ground, the couple isn't looking like slowing down.
Mr Godden said gel blasting items were typically manufactured in China, however they're looking to manufacture their own goods on Australian soil.
The prototypes are currently in the design phase.
"To be able to do Australian made things, that's something new Australia-wide," he said.
"We can't wait to really focus, there's so much we want to do."
Gel Blasters Direct is located at Shop 5/157 Shute Harbour Rd and is open 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday-Wednesday and Fridays, 9.30am to 5.30pm Thursdays and 8am to 1pm Saturdays.