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Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
04-15-2018, 01:06 PM
Post: #1
Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
In the Post Bulletin on March 7th it was announced that Breakwall Outfitters, formerly Hooked On Fishing of Rochester has closed its doors in Lake City. On Facebook, owner Cody Rollings stated, "We just didn't have enough business in Lake City to keep it going." I am sad to say that I was not a regular customer of the former Hooked on Fishing nor had I made the effort to get to the Lake City location. Because of me and many more like me we are slowly losing the local retailers who can best respond to the specific needs and interests of the local clientele. Fewer are the places that you can pick up some fresh live bait, a few jigs and tips on where the fish have been biting locally. I don't have answers to help people like Cody survive in today's business climate, but the closing of Breakwall Outfitters should not go unnoticed. My best to you and your family Cody.

Fish On!
Lew
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04-15-2018, 02:29 PM
Post: #2
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Cody is a great guy....smart too. I understand his decision to move to Lake City, yet I can't help but believe that it was this move that brought the end. With all the reservoirs and Lake Zumbro, Rochester had the climate for bait and tackle sales all year long. Lake City basically has no winter fishing to offer and people will not drive to LC for bait and back to the Zumbro so they use local resources. Internet tackle sales really suck the life out of small shops like Cody's leaving bait pretty much to support the business. The growing use of "artificials" only takes away from bait sales so it becomes an ugly circle.

Personally I think he'd be wise to look back at Rochester. He could probably do well if he omitted donating the tons of tackle to fishing clubs who's memberships seldom bought tackle at his shop. It wasn't the local anglers who fish the reservoirs and Lake Zumbro that hurt Cody's business....there was always a local in the old shop. Always.
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04-16-2018, 06:45 AM
Post: #3
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I really liked Cody and Tom Allen and am so sorry HOF couldn't make a go of it in Rochester. Just as unfortunate Cody couldn't survive in Lake City.
You don't have to be a business major to understand, it's all about supply and demand.
While Rochester has several fishing opportunities and enthusiasts, it's not enough to support a bait shop full time.
How many people are going fishing every day all year long?
There was a supply but not enough demand to make it profitable.
Regardless of the business, in order to stay open, you need a steady and consistent flow of traffic.
The competition for tackle is abundant with, big box stores and on line and their prices are difficult to match for a mom and pop shop.
While HOF had a fresh bait, how much demand was there for wax worms, crawlers and minnows in a day, let alone a week. Then again demand for that was seasonal.
Then to complicate matters, I've read from a couple of different sources that not only state wide but nationally there is a decline in fishing and hunting.
Kids apparently would rather play violent video games then go outdoors.
I used to joke with Cody and Tom they needed to expand their business such as having gas pumps, a casino, strip club, coffee and donuts, lottery tickets, cigarettes, beer or a sports bar.
Something along the lines of a KWIK Trip to attract the dollar, yet specialize in fishing bait and tackle.
I miss the old HOF. It was for me not only a bait and tackle provider but a social place to hang out and visit.
However, a bunch of bull shitters doesn't pay the bills.
With all of that being said, I don't foresee Cody relocating back to Rochester taking into consideration the insane cost of rent or buying building.
Folks, bait and tackle shops are disappearing and a thing of the past.
A culture that will be sorely missed.

The hardest thing in life is knowing which bridge to cross and which one to burn.
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04-16-2018, 11:23 AM
Post: #4
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I think that the only way a small place like that can survive is to diversify. I know he talked st one point of getting into some water sport rentals. I don’t know if that would have worked or not. Look at river valley outfitters in Wabasha as an example. I can go there and buy minnows, a turkey call and new boots at one place. I’m not saying it’s a end all fix, but something like that can’t hurt.

Andy Anderson
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04-16-2018, 11:34 AM (This post was last modified: 04-16-2018 11:39 AM by Ron.)
Post: #5
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Then again I am reminded of Shorty at Prairie Bait in Kellogg. How long has he been around and what's his secret? You suppose it's his pleasant personality?
I remember one time I stopped and asked how's the fishing been.
He told me, how'd the f..k would I know. They don't stop back in on their way home to report.

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04-16-2018, 12:59 PM
Post: #6
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Shorty's an icon. He has never had a personality.....not did the real work horse behind the business's success, his wife. He has a location that would be real tough to beat. Even when the took away the back road to Wilcox across the old bridge he prevailed.

Dick Cavenaugh, "Slippery", had a super location too.

HOF in Rochester always had a great location.....now if only the building hade been maintained and was a little larger. I don't see Rochester ever getting another quality baitshop again given that retail leases are going by the square inch in many instances and we all know who we can blame for that. Look at how many permits are required to handle bait and then consider the state line regulations regarding transporting bait. A small operator like Cody, trying to make do in a very tight market just doesn't have any leeway. As Andy mentions, having the means to diversify can make a difference but in today's business climate I don't see any people with the $$$ willing to go out on a thin limb.
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04-16-2018, 01:22 PM (This post was last modified: 04-16-2018 01:56 PM by Ron.)
Post: #7
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Tom what you say is so true.
I continue to maintain its all about supply and demand. Plus of course location.
Not only the little guys like HOF or Gone Fishing, look at what happened to Gander Mountain and Dicks. Gone.
I predict Scheels days are numbered. Their buyers predict what they think we want and supply is seasonal/limited with no additional orders to fill demand for certain products until they decide it's time.
Same mistake Gander made.
Look at the high prices and does their supply really fill that much of an overall demand or need on a consistent and daily basis to keep them profitable?
Of course Scheels is a novelty right now, but that will wear off.
They can sell just so many high end preppy sunglasses and foo foo silk jogging shorts.
In today's climate I think Mills Fleet Farm is going to surprise them all.
If I was Mills, I'd get a couple of dedicated and knowledgeable sales associates in sporting goods and give the competition a run for their money.

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04-16-2018, 03:26 PM (This post was last modified: 04-18-2018 08:08 AM by Pete.)
Post: #8
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
River Valley in Wabasha is doing it right with reasonable hours and a selection of equipment (not huge but enough).

As for Shorty's...I've been going there for 50+ years and always take any newbie to the area there. It is simply a classic old time bait shop. I woke them up many times to buy bait (although convenient for us I always thought they were nuts to get up in the middle of the night.) Their sign by the doorbell, although not original, was classic:

Ring one for service
Ring twice for slow service
Ring three times for no service.

Bait shops up north are changing too. I go to the Hackensack area frequently. There used to be Ed's and Swanson's. Ed was the classic one man shop very similar to Shorty's. He retired and then there was only Swanson's. They remodeled and spruced it up. Now days I feel like I had better be willing to get a second mortgage if I want to buy anything there...it's called opportunity cost.
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04-16-2018, 04:11 PM
Post: #9
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Gander and Dicks were both sunk at a corporate level Ron, not local. Dicks didn't have anything to start with really and Gander....was a wasteland.

In that mall setting and with clothes and shoes right inside any door you enter from, Scheels will stay with it. Their ice area is commendable but much of their open water stuff tends to suck, but then I am sort of biased. Maybe. It still pisses me off that not one single store in this town will carry the Thill Mini Stealth ORIGINAL # 2 float with the latex friction sleeve. I can buy them on line in a heart beat though. The new fangled, pseudo mini stealth floats with the snap sleeves are bad. Junk.

Fleet Farm can be a great place IF you get there before the masses on some stuff. As a rule, when its gone its gone for a long time. Once in a while they'll be able to re-stock, but I don't hold my breathe on it usually. And much of this problem isn't Fleet Farm at all. Its the distributors not wanting to have to warehouse anything. Distributors handle orders from bait shops right up to corporate orders and flip those right to the manufacturers. The manufacturers make the tackle and drop ship it right to the bait shops or corporate store addresses. Take the orders at distributor shows and bill the business where the goods go. That's the role of a distributor any more. Some will stock certain strong sellers but distributors are poison to small shops and even some corporate entities.

Bait....now that's in a league all its own and with all of the state and federal permits needed I'm surprised the are any bait shops left anywhere.

Pete brings up a point too though that goes against Cody. Gotta be open to serve people. If you're supposed to be open and aren't when people stop by word will travel fast.
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04-16-2018, 08:16 PM
Post: #10
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I've done a fair bit of shopping at Mills Fleet Farm myself, but since the Mills family sold everything to some corporate entity it will be I interesting to watch for changes in their business model.

Fish On!
Lew
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04-17-2018, 07:13 AM
Post: #11
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I absolutely hate Mills Fleet Farm. Whenever I go there it's with the intention of picking up just a couple items, however, end up dropping over $100 each time.
You know......since I'm here, may as well pick up this and that, usually forgetting what I went there for to begin with.
I have been known to come home and after going through the sack, I ask myself what in the hell, what was I thinking or going to do with an item.

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04-17-2018, 07:58 AM
Post: #12
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Yes we did close. Making $0-$20 a day doesnt cut it. Yes i was closed a few times, why, because i have appontments, daughter has appontments, sick. I was the only one running it. Im not going to have joe blow come off the street and watch my store while i have something to do. I dont have the financial backing to drop $50k a year on product. I put all my life savings in to hof and breakwall, and that's all gone. So i apologize for closing the store. Not my intention. Again, as far as coming back to Rochester, absolutely not. Im not sure if anyone realizes how EXPENSIVE Rochester rental rates are, its insane. I.e: a 800sqft space-$2300 a month just rent
A 3,000sqft-$4,000-6,000 a month just rent.
The old hof shop is full of mold. I got sick from the mold and took 6 monts to get better. Yeah, id love to open back up in Roch, but its way too expensive. I miss all my Roch customers and miss having the store here. Its frustrating, i know, and im truly sorry.

The two best times to fish are when it's Rainin' and when it Ain't!!
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04-17-2018, 08:17 AM
Post: #13
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Don’t think anyone is blaming you Cody. It’s just a tough business to make it in. I commend you for giving it your all and venturing out of comfort to Lake City. I forbine wish you could have made it! I always tried to stop in to buy something when I was in town.

Andy Anderson
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04-17-2018, 08:43 AM
Post: #14
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I appreciate everyones business over the years at both locations. I really do, we talked about different ways to keep it going but it just wasnt realistic.

The two best times to fish are when it's Rainin' and when it Ain't!!
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04-17-2018, 01:44 PM
Post: #15
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
There isn't anybody cheaper then a fisherman as far as bait and tackle shops are concerned.
They will spend thousands of dollars on a boat and a gas guzzling vehicle to tow it, plus buy a round of drinks at the pub, but bitch when the price for bait goes up twenty five cents.
The idea of hiring a guide makes them laugh, but sure as hell won't refuse any free advice from the bait shop, yet keep their own honey holes a secret.
When it comes to purchasing rods, reels and lures, they want bid it out like it was a government contract. For what....to save one dollar?
They make a few cheap measly purchases a year and pride themselves into thinking they kept the business afloat.
Mom and pop bait and tackle business is a loosing proposition.Undecided

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04-18-2018, 07:38 AM
Post: #16
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Good to see you discussing this Cody. Since I make 99%of my tackle I probably wasn’t the best customer. One thing I want to say... I think of all of the owners to cycle thru the HOF name, you had the most savvie. You knew what you were talking about when asked a question about the current bite or tackle/technique to use. I don’t think that it was you that closed the doors per se, but rather a stagnant business climate in Lake City and none of us will dunn you for getting out of the old shop and mold.
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04-18-2018, 08:07 AM (This post was last modified: 04-18-2018 08:09 AM by Pete.)
Post: #17
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Hey Cody. I understand the situation being a one man shop and why you had to close during scheduled business hours. It was 50 miles round trip to get to Lake City. I was actually trying to support your business as that was the only reason I made the trip. I hope you can see this customer's perspective along with your own.
I will remove my comment from my post.

I give you credit for giving it a go and wish you the best in the future.

I rarely use live bait except when I fish pannies off the dock with the grandkids. When I do buy live bait I don't bat an eye at the prices. The permit fees are high, distribution costs alone for the wholesalers is high and the retailer has to make a buck. It seems like live bait will eventually disappear as an option.

I see others have the same experience I have had with Fleet Farm. They carry a ton of stuff but the baits I use are sold out quickly and rarely restocked during a season. I like their sale prices, but never count on being able to get what I want.
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04-18-2018, 04:02 PM
Post: #18
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
Obviously the demand will be less if there is a limited supply because of failing bait and tackle business with big box stores and mom and pop shops closing.
You may want it, but where you going to get it? Leaving one to think, just forget it.
With the lack of fresh bait and restricted selection of tackle, I suspect this will contribute to an already declining number who fish. The domino affect.
This will in turn affect fishing reports and provide less information as to what is hot and the best baits to use. Individuals will become more tight lipped and we won't have bait shops to give us reports.
On the flip side of that dilemma, shouldn't fisheries recover quicker with the lack of pressure.
I'm reminded of how Lake Zumbro was avoided for years because it was thought to be a cess pool. Once it was publicized that water quality had improved significantly, people starting fishing out there only to find the fishing abundant with quality fish, most likely because they had been left alone for so long so they could recover to acceptable sizes and numbers.
On the down side, if the DNR sees a decline in fishing and license sales, they won't want to be as proactive because of the lack of money. Restocking would be my guess as the first victim.

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04-19-2018, 09:02 AM
Post: #19
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
If anyone has questions on the bite or what to use for tackle, i will gladly talk.to you about it and fill you in the best i can. Im still in the fishing industry (custom lures) and will still post fishing reports on my personal facebook page. I can also contribute reports to RO if thats is needed. IMO, i think the small shops will continue to decline. Why? Online sales. For instance, i used to sell Canada ready crawlers by the flat, after Target Walleye started posting on their Facebook that you can get canada crawlers shipped to your door for $50, that made my crawlers sales plummeted. As far as Fleet Farm and Scheels, i grew up with scheels back home in Mankato. Not a bad place, prices are ok, sometimes on the high side. Fleet Farm seems to be the cheapest place to buy tackle imo. I prefer small shops, but now those small shops are non existant. Before i moved to Rochester i worked at a bait shop on Madison Lake. Madison Lake is surrounded by lakes, im talking upwards of 20 within 20 mins. Even there is was a hard business to run because everyone shopped at Walmart or Scheels. Its a tough business to be in. Honestly, i would do it again but im Rochester with the right inventory. When i took over HOF, the inventory was years old. I still have tackle from 5+years ago. Cant even give it away. I hope we can all continue to support small businesses weather if fishing related or not. As far as reports, ill give you all i know. Same with tackle tips. Im here to help you guys catch fish the best i can. As i write this, im in my truck at the viewing area on Lake Pepin in Lake City, most of the ice is gone, some ice still by the Sportsmans Club down to Lacupolis along the shore. The bite at red wing seems to be good still. Plastics seem to be working the best as far as i know. Open water will be here soon!! If you want to keep up with whats going on, i post a lot to my facebook, (fyi, i post a lot of my 11 month old daughter, fair warning ?) give me a friend request. I will also try my best to post more here too.
*sorry for misspelled words, my fat fingers cant type very good on my phone**

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The two best times to fish are when it's Rainin' and when it Ain't!!
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04-19-2018, 02:25 PM
Post: #20
RE: Closing of the Breakwall Outfitters
I was hoping you'd hang on a while until I could get to LC and stop. Has a question or two for you. I'm going to pm them to you here.
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