There was a time when the internet did not help anglers to catch fish.
There was actually a time that anglers stopped by the store to get tackle and stopped into the bait and tackle, where the background noise was that of crickets in a box and the smells were damp concrete floors, peanuts, men that sweat when it’s cool, and a wet dog.
I thought about this recently, when I left a familiar and landmark tackle shop in Kinston, known as Neuse Sport Shop. My earliest recollection of this store began a few decades ago when I was the passenger in a pick-up truck and we were hauling a boat to Morehead City and stopping at the Neuse, as it is known, was as much a requirement as it was necessity.
The store, I recall was open late and it was more of a fishing store than a hunting and outdoors resource store. There was nothing particularly glamorous and the isles were stocked with all the things needed and not. The minnows were healthy and the crickets loud and the worms and such, were healthy.
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Along the way, the shop expanded and wisely, expansion included adding an outdoors line that included camping and dog needs. Eventually, the shop made a step forward and included a line of products that were nothing related to the outdoors, including women’s clothing and household items and décor.
I write about this because there is a deep appreciation for what really is an industry where the internet and the convenience of shopping from the phone or the computer or a moving truck at seventy-miles an hour, killed a number of tackle and bait and outdoors shops in our area.
What Neuse Sport Shop has that leverages its ability to survive is the idea that looping non-fishing people, meaning a girlfriend or a spouse into the store, so that they can purchase something too. This offsets the anglers' purchase of more lures, hooks, and five new reels.
Certainly, big box outdoors stores have been doing this for years. Locally, big box outdoors stores continue this, albeit they have national marketing and global name presence, that allows them not just sell hooks for fishing, but also clothing that makes reeling in that fish, very fashionable while using hooks purchased from the store.
Yet, Neuse Sport Shop did this locally. And though they do not have the geographical mass of people that are located within a 20-minute drive of the big box stores of Raleigh, Durham, and Cary, the shop captivates its customers by appealing to the roots of the industry while extending its branches to captivate those that like outdoors themed gifts and collectibles.
When I was in the store on Friday, we purchased a few things needed for fishing. However, I noticed that there were as many people in the clothing and gifting section, shopping than there were in the hook and bait section.
When I think about my own personal awareness of the Neuse Sport Shop and how the store has changed over the years, it is rewarding to see a parking lot full, most every chance I get to visit. This store is not a chain or big-box franchise and yet despite the trends in how people shop and the ease of the internet in our apparently needy world that the store has remained opened and is healthy, is appreciated.
Where most all of the individual and local bait and tackle locations in our region, are no longer in business and great big box outdoor stores have infiltrated the geography, it seems duty-driven to stop at the Neuse Sport Shop and buy chic clothing and crickets and hooks. After all, we all should look good while fishing.
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