Fishing image by Antonio Oquias from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>
Owning a retail fishing store is the dream of many avid fishermen. The ability to go to work and talk fishing seems to be the perfect job. However, without a clear business plan and an eye on the details, a lifelong dream can quickly turn into a short vacation. Even if it's your dream job, opening a fishing store is still serious business and needs to be treated as such.
Research your market. You need to know what types of fish are in your local waters, what they eat, what equipment you need to catch them and who the people are that come to fish them. You also need to understand the area your shop will be in. Learn about area services, your competition, and other offerings and attractions. As a fishing shop owner, you'll often be called upon to help tourists with their vacation plans.
Evaluate your finances. Check your credit report and look at your investments or bank statements. You need to determine how much you need to make to not only keep the fishing store in business, but to pay your day-to-day living expenses, such as your house payment, car payment, insurance and utilities. Having a few months worth of expenses in the bank will give you a cushion while word is getting out about your shop.
Find a location. Some fishing shops are run in conjunction with other services, like a gas station or a motel. If you can start a partnership with someone that already has a business in your town, then you can save yourself a lot of start-up time. Fishing shops can be run out of your own garage or barn if you have one, or you can rent or purchase a location near your preferred waterway, preferably on a busy road.
Call your county or city clerk's office and find out if there are any licenses or permits you'll need to open a fishing store in your town. You'll also need to get business sales tax forms from your state, if your state collects tax on retail sales. Call your state's Department of Natural Resources (or Fish and Game department) and find out if you need a dealer's license to distribute bait.
Stock your store. You will need refrigerators for the bait; worm bedding; minnow tanks; and containers in a variety of sizes to store the bait. You can find bait locally or contact a wholesale bait distributor which can ship your bait to you. You will also need to decide on the type of equipment you want to have in stock. Fishing rods, reels, nets, and all of the little items that fishermen look for will be important to have on hand. Most likely, you will be the closest store to where people are fishing and having a stocked store will make you the first place to go. Contact wholesalers of fishing gear to get you stocked. You can also take on used equipment and resell it as a service to your customers.
Market your store. Design a logo and choose a business name. Use these on all materials relating to your store. Put it on fliers, business cards and in newspaper or tourist magazine ads. Print up a brochure that can be placed in visitors' centers around the state, especially if your waterways are popular tourist destinations. Have a party to launch the opening of your store. Promote your "fishermen's hours" and offer coffee to early morning anglers. Host a fishing derby for little kids with the prize being a gift certificate to your store.
Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.