The owners of Bits and Baits will be putting up a “gone fishing” sign for good when they close down at the start of September.
The bait and tackle store owned by Marise Dubé and husband Gord Long (pictured above in front of their store) has been operating for just over 10 years out of a little white house on Stittsville Main Street. Dube says their property and the Stittsville Travel building next door have been purchased by Rivera, the company the owns the neighbouring retirement home.
“I guess the reason we’re not reopening elsewhere, business isn’t that good for a mom and pop fishing tackle shop. Cabela’s is planning on opening down the road in 2016, the American dollar is killing the wholesale prices and we can’t compete with the big places like Canadian Tire, Lebaron’s, Sail as well as the American online stores,” says Dubé.
“We sell quite a bit of frozen baitfish to people who go fishing in Québec. Fishing with that kind of bait will be banned in Québec in 2017. There’s also been talk about banning the use of live minnows in Ontario. That will take a fair chunk of business away. Live minnow sales, for ice fishing, is a major part of our winter sales.”
That’s a quite a contrast to the situation when they opened ten years ago. Dube says they originally chose their location in Stittsville because there were no bait shops in the west end.
“We chose Stittsville Main Street because of its unique residential commercial zoning, its location close to the 417 and ‘on the way’ or close to to many lakes and rivers,” she says.
Dubé says she’ll miss conversations with her customers the most, and helping them discover the world of fishing and the variety of species in Ontario.
“We especially liked hearing the kids’ stories and posting their pictures on the wall of fame (and) introducing the kids (and some adults!) to the shop mascots, Simon and Garfunkel, our cats, aged 17 and 18, mascots since 2006.”
Dubé and Long feel the new Stittsville Main Street Community Design Plan won’t be accomodating to a business like Bits and Baits.
“We did not find that a bait and tackle shop fit into the urban feel that the city planners were portraying in the plan. We participated in the planning sessions and did not find that our voices were being heard… Many of our customers are hauling trailers with boats or ATVs and the CDP allowed for very little parking for that. A shop close to the street with parking in the back on narrow lots doesn’t allow for these types of vehicle to turn around or park on the busy street,” she says.
“If we wanted to expand or rebuild, we would have had to follow those guidelines. During the CDP meetings, places like Westboro were always brought up and people had visions of ’boutique’ type shops. A bait and tackle shop just isn’t that kind of place.”
The Bits and Baits name will live on in a sense. Dubé is a contract IT consultant and that profession makes up the “Bits” part of the name. She says they’re looking for a house on a lake where the couple can finally go fishing.
Everything on the store (except for live bait and licenses) is on sale until September 5 when the store closes.
Messages from grateful customers have been pouring in since the couple announced the closing on their Facebook page earlier this week. Here’s a sample.
“So sorry to hear that! Thanks for the years of great service and awesome minnows! All the best in your next chapter of life!” — Mike Bruce.
“Gonna miss my west end bait shop. Shame I couldn’t get out more. Best of luck Gord. Here’s hoping you can get rich honkin on your guitar.” — Bill Wiswell
“I didn’t get out there much but I know the shop will be missed . Best of luck, enjoy the time off and get out and fish.” — Mike Stinson
“That’s sad to hear Gord! One of the best jobs I’ve had was running minnows up and down those stairs. Gonna miss the place! Best of luck to you and Marise!” — Mickey Delorme
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