Wausau bait shop opens during pandemic

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 7:33 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 6:37 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for businesses big and small, a local Wausau man is seeing it as an opportunity to build a business.

Going out on the lake fishing is considered a safe and socially distant activity during the pandemic, which is why Hollow Bait and Tackle saw it as a window of opportunity to open up shop.

"It's been pretty good so far mornings are slow but the afternoons pick up quite a bit," Hollow Bait and Tackle Owner Alex Nowak said.

Nowak opened his bait shop near Lake Wausau in mid-July and said it was the perfect time to do so with so many people looking for outdoor activities to do.

“We wanted to open just because we had the idea for a couple of years and then with Keith at Riverside going out of business it’s really like a now or never type deal,” Nowak said.

Newschannel 7 reported on June 29 that Wisconsin fishing license sales increased by 100,000 from 2019 to 2020.

Nowak said he's able to offer something that anglers can't find at big box stores.

"I get a lot of people that come in and they're like oh we're so glad you're here, we needed this down here for so long, it's interesting to meet a lot of new people," he said.

For customers, the convenience of a small bait shop makes it a no-brainer, and one customer said there’s something special about buying local.

“I think it’s great, we didn’t know where to buy live bait. We actually had to track some down, but in the meantime, the one closed and then we had to go down to Schofield now they’ve closed, so now all I have to do is walk across the street so it’s awesome,” Shelly Filber said. “I’m going to say the bait is probably better, it’s more fresh, I’m not going to say you’ll catch bigger ones with it, but we’re gonna try.”

Nowak plans to keep his business going for as long as possible and he says he’s looking forward to the winter months when anglers are ready for ice fishing.

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