So, You Think You Want a Bait and Tackle Shop?
It makes perfect sense. You love fishing and you like to have lots of fishing stuff around to look at and play with. So why wouldn’t running a bait and tackle shop be the perfect job for an angler?
After all, the Bass Pro Shop empire began with a young man who sold bass jigs from cards on his dad’s liquor store checkout counter. So how hard could running a bait and tackle shop be?
The one thing that we heard time and again when we started researching this topic of starting a bait and tackle shop is this: If you really like to go fishing, don’t start a bait and tackle shop unless you can hire a staff of knowledgeable workers. If you have to run the shop by yourself, you will be working while everyone else is out fishing. You can’t run a successful bait and tackle shop AND be fishing at the same time.
Location, Location, Location
It should be obvious that where a baits and tackle shop is located is crucial to its chances of success. A shop located far from any fishing location is probably not going to survive for long. Anglers are looking for the closest bait shop to their favorite location. A bait shop which is difficult to access is probably not going to make it, either.
Chris Vecsey is an important member of the staff at Sam’s Bait and Tackle, an Orange Beach, Alabama long-time source for fishing tackle, gear, and advice.
“Location with any business is extremely important and with a tackle shop, that means being on a popular route to the water or popular fishing area,” Vecsey said. ” Accessibility for customers trailering boats is very important as well. If you’re off the beaten path and access to your parking area is restricted, many would-be customers will pass your business up for somewhere more convenient to enter and exit and that’s on the way to their fishing hole.”
Gear and Tackle- Crucial
One of the biggest differences between a real bait and tackle shop and big box stores that sell fishing tackle is that big box stores tend to carry what they want the angler to buy, but real bait and tackle shops tend to sell what works for their local waters.
Selecting the right gear for a specific location can be confusing for many anglers, and this is where a well-run bait shop can be invaluable.
“In most cases, the majority of sales associates that are employed in an independently owned bait shop are local anglers. These are guys that have a passion for fishing and who know the ins and outs of the tackle they use. The advice given by a true local angler is priceless because it’s been acquired through endless hours on the water.” Vecsey said.
“Our sales team are all lifetime anglers and we spend extensive time on the water using the latest gear and targeting many local species. That time on the water gives us the knowledge we pass on to our customers every day in the shop. By giving valuable, time-earned advice to our patrons, we build a loyal customer base that knows we are here to help them. A successful tackle shop is one that values a customer’s catch as if it were their own,” Vecsey added.
Service to the Customer
The one point that all successful bait and tackle shops have in common is that they actually provide top-notch customer service. That’s what separates the local bait and tackle shop from big box stores and other kinds of fishing gear outlets.
Bait and tackle store operators must be in the store and selling the bait early and late every day, and having the best and most current local fishing reports is crucial, too. Customers would like to know what’s biting, where it’s biting, and what it’s biting on.
“Besides the basic duties of helping customers select the right tackle, a few services that shops should always offer include reel spooling and line recycling, rod and reel repair, custom rigging of lures/leaders, special ordering for specific tackle, and periodic seminars on rigging and different fishing techniques,” Vecsey noted.
A few words of wisdom when considering how to start a bait shop – “Owning a bait and tackle shop is a labor of love. Long hours become the norm and are key to keeping tabs on what’s happening in the shop along with current sales trends,” Vecsey said. “The most successful shops are largely owner-operated with the help of a team of local anglers as sales associates. In the retail tackle world, it’s very important that your sales associates spend ample time on the water. These are the guys who are keeping up with the tackle trends and often starting them. The local word of mouth is extremely important in helping customers choose your store, and shops that have sales teams built of reputable anglers will always be a top recommendation. Balance the schedules of your employees so they can continue to become better anglers. Your customers need to know your shop is run by true fishermen.”
Important Contact Information
Sam’s Bait and Tackle
27122 Canal Road
Orange Beach, Alabama 36561