More saving, more fishing

Stephen Headrick

About the author

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick

Stephen Headrick is better known to the bass fishing world as the Smallmouth Guru. He lives in Celina, Tenn., and is the owner of Punisher Lures.

I'm in kind of a unique position in the fishing industry. I do a little bit of everything to earn my living. Most of it comes from my convenience store, the Dale Hollow 1 Stop. I sell all the usual stuff that other convenience stores have, plus I carry lots and lots of fishing tackle, pizzas, submarine sandwiches and more.

Then there's my lure company, Punisher Lures. What started in a tiny metal building is now a national operation. My baits are sold in stores all around the country as well as on my website (www.punisherlures.com).

I also do a little guiding out on Dale Hollow Lake. The guide business makes me a little money, but it also gives me an excuse to go fishing, so I love it.

My point with all this is just to give you a little background for the money-saving tips I'm about to offer. Because I get to see so many different sides of the fishing industry, I might see more ways to save than other people.

Let's start with retail stores — especially some of the smaller mom and pop-type stores that you see around the lakes you fish. While you might think they can't compete with the prices you see in the big box stores or the online stores, you just might be in for a surprise.

I run one of those smaller tackle shops, and I'm here to tell you that I want to move product and make money. With the economy as tough as it's been lately, that means small stores are more willing to wheel and deal than ever before ... if you approach them right.

Let's say you're looking at a new fishing rod in a small tackle shop. Ask the owner if he'd be willing to throw in some baits or give you a nice discount on a reel to put on it. Not only are you likely to get the discount, but I bet you'll wind up with a better deal than you could find at one of the big box stores. You've just got to do a little horse trading.

I do this all the time at my store. It works for several reasons.

First, it improves my cash flow. Having money coming is critical to a small business.

Second, it might earn me a new customer. Especially when I'm dealing with someone new or that I don't know very well, it's a chance to make a real convert — someone who will remember what I did and come to me the next time he's looking for tackle rather than to another store or online.

Third, if he's buying from me, I might be in a position to really help him with his fishing. I can suggest baits, techniques or even locations where he'll have success. The better that customer does, the more likely he'll come back and the more he'll buy. That's good for both of us.

Just remember, there's almost always an opportunity to do some negotiating when you're buying fishing tackle, particularly if you're in a small tackle shop and especially when you're dealing directly with the owner.

After all, you're the big one he doesn't want to get away!

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me atStephen@thesmallmouthguru.com.

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