A bait and tackle shop is a fisherman’s go-to supply shop for bait. Normally, a bait and tackle shop is located near boat launches, piers, and lakes. If they’re licensed, a bait and tackle shop can make extra money by selling drinks and beer to fisherman. Some bait and tackle shops also sell snacks.
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Learn how to start your own Bait & Tackle Shop and whether it is the right fit for you.
Start a bait & tackle shop by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Bait & Tackle Shop
- Form your Bait & Tackle Shop into a Legal Entity
- Register your Bait & Tackle Shop for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Bait & Tackle Shop
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Bait & Tackle Shop
- Get Bait & Tackle Shop Insurance
- Define your Bait & Tackle Shop Brand
- Create your Bait & Tackle Shop Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your bait & tackle shop. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a bait & tackle shop?
Bait and tackle shop startup costs are low. Normally, it takes $5,000 to start one. This cost covers the rent, the utilities, and insurance. It will also cover the shop’s basic supplies, like tanks, aerators, refrigeration, gear, tackle, and vending machines. As a bait tackle shop grows, it’ll need more supplies to keep fishers happy.
What are the ongoing expenses for a bait & tackle shop?
A bait and tackle shop needs to source its live bait. Typically, it catches its own. Expenses include gasoline for water trips and bait nets. If you want to source your own bait from another provider, expect to pay about $20 per bucket of shiners, snappers, suckers, or fat heads.
Who is the target market?
The ideal customers are fishermen. Instead of targeting a specific type of client, focus on the area. Establish your bait and tackle shop near a beach, a pier, a lake, or a river. Preferred clients are locals, because they buy bait in bulk. If you have to pay extra money for an extra location, do it. It’s worthwhile to pick a location with return customers.
How does a bait & tackle shop make money?
Many bait and tackle shops make money by selling bait alone. Some bait stands, in fact, only have a single tank with live bait. Others, meanwhile, offer lures, hooks, line, and even spare rod pieces. Depending on the location, a bait and tackle shop will offer different items. Ocean fishing is different than freshwater fishing, and it needs additional gear.
Bait and tackle shops can also sell food and drinks for money. Some shops sell beer and liquor. Other shops may open a café. While rare, some shops are also seafood restaurants. Really, it depends on the shop’s location. Bait can be charged by the bucket, or it can be charged by individual fish, worm, etc. Tackle is sold on a per item basis.
How much can you charge customers?
Charge customers between 25 and 95 cents for live bait, per bait. Fishing lures can be priced between 95 cents and $10. As for tackle, prices range from $15 to $80, depending on what you’re selling. If you’re selling rod necessities, like spinning reels, you can sell products up to $100.
How much profit can a bait & tackle shop make?
A good bait and tackle shop can make about $45,000 per year, if it’s small. Larger franchised bait and tackle shops, meanwhile, can make over $200,000 in profit per year. A lot of a bait and tackle shop’s success depends on its availability—as well as the area’s fishing needs.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Commercial fishing is a big business, but it might not be big in your area. Instead of expanding your floor space off the bat, look for better locations. Host special events like contests, and sponsor charitable community work.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Bait & Tackle Shop Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your bait & tackle shop is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
- LLC Taxes
- Sole Proprietorship vs LLC
- LLC vs Corporation
- LLC vs S Corp
- How to Start an S Corp
- S Corp vs C Corp
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Open net 30 accounts
Net 30 accounts are used to establish and build business credit as well as increase business cash flow. With a net 30 account, businesses buy goods and repay the full balance within a 30-day term.
NetMany net 30 credit vendors report to the major business credit bureaus (Dun & Bradstreet, Experian Business, and Equifax Business Credit). This is how businesses build business credit so they can qualify for credit cards and other lines of credit.
Recommended: Read our best net 30 vendors, guide and start building business credit.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
In most states, it is necessary to obtain a bait shop license. Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a bait & tackle business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
It is important to abide by your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Regulations
Certificate of Occupancy
A bait shop business is generally run out of a shack or storefront. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a bait & tackle business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your bait & tackle business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a bait & tackle shop
Fortunately, bait and tackle shops frequently promote themselves. Reach out to local restaurants, fishing areas, and near-water locations. A lot of fishers rely on big-name brands to get their tackle. That said, they’ll turn to local bait and tackle shops for convenience. Again, a lot of shops thrive from being near the water.
As for marketing, make a Facebook page. Put flyers around local businesses, and reach out to local business owners. A lot of your marketing will be word-of-mouth marketing.
How to keep customers coming back
Attract customers by being in an accessible location. Marinas, beaches, and piers will be your best bet. Retain customers by being fully stocked, offering good advice, and being accommodating. A lot of fishers return to the same bait and tackle shops out of habit, so make sure you’re kind to your regulars.
Still unsure about what kind of business you want to start? Check out the latest Small Business Trends to help inspire you.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2022 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
Start a Bait & Tackle Shop in your State
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Is this Business Right For You?
Bait and tackle shops are perfect for people who love to fish. If you love fishing on the ocean, on lakes or on rivers, consider opening one. They’re also great for friendly sports-lovers. Bait and tackle shops are normally people-oriented. If you like the small shop environment, a bait and tackle shop may be for you.
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What happens during a typical day at a bait & tackle shop?
Bait and tackle shop owners have several responsibilities. First, they need to maintain the live bait. To do so, they need to keep the tanks, aerators, and water supplies clean. Bait and tackle shop owners must also keep bait and tackle stocked. They should also make sure other bait is refrigerated. Vending machines need to be restocked, and customers need to be kept happy. A successful bait and tackle shop owner also cleans, works the register, markets, and manages the area.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful bait & tackle shop?
A successful bait and tackle shop will understand the area. They’ll know which fish can be caught, and they’ll also know how to catch them. More importantly: They’ll know how to use their bait.
A good bait and tackle shop will also offer high-quality lures, bait, and tackle. Fishers lose their tackle and bait a lot, and they’ll pay extra for high-quality products. If your bait and tackle shop is on a pier, near a restaurant, or on the beach, it’ll need to be noninvasive. Serve customers, give information, and let them fish.
What is the growth potential for a bait & tackle shop?
Normally, bait and tackle shops stay local. It’s rare to see a bait and tackle chain, but they do exist. Large bait and tackle shops may expand, stocking hunting, camping, and survival supplies. Stores like Outdoor World, for example, sell many supplies.
For the most part, a bait and tackle shop will serve a very specific area. Fishers search by location, when fishing. For this reason, they’ll buy bait and tackle from whichever shop is closest. There isn’t too much competition with bait and tackle shops, but you should still have a competitive pricing mindset. If your shop is in a popular fishing area, fishers may still turn to other shops if their prices are better.
Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a bait & tackle shop?
Invest in an underperforming, unprofitable location. When you’re starting, you’re better off relying on low expenses. Determine your competition, and consider competing with existing shops. It can take a tackle shop some time to get started, but they can become powerful local shops once they’ve gained footing.
How and when to build a team
You can operate a bait and tackle shop alone at first. Soon, however, you should bring on at least two or three employees. These employees will need to help with bait refrigeration, cleaning, processing orders, and stocking the shop. If you plan on franchising, you’ll need to have a team of at least five employees.
Real World Examples
- Mick's bait shop in Curtis, MI
- A bait shop and deli for hungry fishermen
- A bait shop and fishing guide business