LEESBURG, Florida — U.S. Highway 441 cuts a busy, four lane swath through Central Florida. If you travel north far enough, you’ll pass through Athens, Georgia where you can veer east towards Lake Hartwell and the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. But if you drive south through Florida—past Gainesville and Ocala, you’ll find Brooker’s Bait & Tackle.
Brooker’s Bait & Tackle sits on the western side of 441 in the tiny town of Leesburg. And Leesburg, as it turns out, is the perfect place for a tackle store.
The small town of just over 15,000 is nestled between Ocala and Orlando—right in the middle of the Harris chain of lakes. Lakes Harris, Denham, Griffin, Eustis, Yale and Dora surround Leesburg and neighboring (aptly named) Bassville Park. It’s their presence that has fueled the rapid growth of Bill and Natalie Brooker’s tackle store.
The Brookers opened their tackle store in April of 2014 after eyeing the property for months. “We found this property about a year before that and we tried to lease this property through a leasing company,” says Bill Brooker. “They wouldn’t lease it to us. So I waited about six months and nothing went in here. I had a friend at Century 21 who got ahold of the owners and they took our offer.”
In the latest of a series of Fishing Tackle Retailer video spotlights, our staff caught up with the Brookers—who just happened to have the latest copy of FTR in hand—at their newly-opened store.
The Brookers have gone from $50,000 worth of inventory last Spring to holding $250,000 worth of inventory today. And in a tackle industry that’s sometimes unsure of itself, their story is one of success and hope as the two new business owners plan to make a living doing what they love: catching fish and helping other people do the same.