One of the two main reasons my bait and tackle shop (Hook, Line & Sinker, 4010 Calle Real, Santa Barbara) was able to remain open for business during the pandemic was because we sell pet food. The other was because we sell licenses and essential bait and gear to commercial fishers as well as recreational anglers.
Commercial and recreational anglers were appreciative that we were open for them. The pet food aspect of our business is where we had some real surprises.
Night crawlers, red worms and meal worms are always important products for us, and we sell many packages, but never as many as we have sold during the pandemic.
We always had a good number of clients who instead of coming in with smartphones outstretched to show us pictures of the fish they caught, were showing us pictures of their pet turtles, tortoises, birds and lizards, some odd critters I don’t often see, and of course fish. Other folks bought red worms for compost piles.
These folks bought lots of nightcrawlers, red worms and meal worms, and were thrilled we were open so they could get the pet food they needed.
Some of them brought us thank-you gifts of food items, fresh fruits and vegetables, and yes, even toilet paper. (Never thought I‘d see the day when toilet paper was a major and deeply appreciated gift.)
The outpouring of appreciation was profound and made us blink back tears of gratitude.
Commercial fishers and recreational anglers also brought thank-you gifts which made us deeply happy. This story is my way of saying “thank you” from my heart and from Tiffany’s heart (she manages our family store). It feels good to be appreciated and we appreciate loyal customers of brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops because you customers keep our local economy going.
As people heard we were open, more and more came for pet food, and we brought customers into the store in a controlled fashion for social distancing. What we learned was that more people than we ever imagined had pet reptiles, birds and fish,nd they always had trouble finding natural protein food that their critters happily gobbled up.
This town has an impressive pet population of atypical pets, and we are so happy to serve up some of their favorite foods.
Fisherfolk came in numbers, too, because many were out of work and needed healthy recreation, and especially needed fresh fish and crab they could catch for themselves and take care of their hungry families.
It is a busy time for the shop and now the major fishing season is underway. Speaking of which, Stardust and Coral Sea, our fishing party boats out of Sea Landing, are running trips again. and I recommend stopping by Hook, Line & Sinker for your fishing gear and making reservations to go out on one of those fine boats.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.