It’s true, fishing is your thing, you know all the latest techniques to catching the big ones. So why not consider opening a bait shop. Bait shops are easy to get going, fun to run, and the ordering of new products is the next best thing to sliced bread. To start a bait shop you will need to know a few good basics to get the ball rolling.
1. Minnow Tanks – You are going to want a minnow tank with at least 6 stalls in it. Most bait shops carry at least 6 different minnows. If you decide for a tank with less stalls, then you should consider purchasing two or more tanks. Your minnow tanks will be equipped with air lines, and continuous water lines. On the end of the air lines, you will have air stones installed. The continuous water lines and air lines tend to float, you can weigh each line down with depth finders.
2. Refrigerators – You will need one small refrigerator and one large refrigerator. The small one you will leave in the shop for your night crawlers, worms, leeches and wigglers. The large refrigerator will be in a back storage area where you can keep your bulk live bait. Depending on the size of bait shop you will be opening, you may need one or more extra refrigerators.
3. Plastic Containers: These can be found online or through your distributor. To package your live bait you will want 8 oz. containers with lids for your one dozen night crawlers, worms and leeches. You will want 12 oz. or 16 oz. containers with lids for your two dozen night crawlers. You may use either plastic or Styrofoam containers. In my experience, the plastic containers work very well for night crawlers and worms, the Styrofoam containers work great for leeches. Some distributors will sell already made up containers thus saving you time but they are and will be more expensive which will cut into your profits.
4. Worm Bedding: You will be able to purchase worm bedding through your distributor. You cannot package the night crawlers and worms in dirt as a lot of customers go outside of the US for traveling, example would be Canada for fishing, and you cannot take US dirt over the boarder to Canada. When storing Worm Bedding be sure to keep the plastic bad tightly rolled up so it remains moist, otherwise, it will harden up over time.
5. Licenses: Before opening your doors, be sure to obtain the correct licenses for running a bait shop. You will have to contact your local Department Of Resources for a dealer’s license. This license will allow you to carry a certain number of live minnows. Then contact your Department of Revenue for a seller’s permit. Both license carry a small fee, and will have to be renewed every year or in some states every two years.
These are the basics to getting started. Bait Shop owners are known to have the longest business hours around. You generally have to open around 4:00 AM and plan on closing around 8:00 PM. May, June, July, August and September are the biggest months for open water fishing. October and November is usually considered down time depending on what you all have to offer in your shop. Once the ice freezes, December, January and February are hot months for ice fishermen. March and April are also considered down time, again, depending on what you all have to offer in your shop. Due to long hours, a lot of little bait shops do end up closing within the first year or two. It takes a great commitment to opening a bait shop but it is a very rewarding business to get going. You not only will meet all kinds of new and interesting people, but you will become the talk of the town, in a good way of course.