Retailer Spotlight: Grizzly Jig Company

CARUTHERSVILLE, Mo. — At the pulse of the New Madrid Fault Line, near the banks of the Mississippi River, sits the Grizzly Jig Company. They are, by most accounts, the largest seller of crappie tackle in America. And their success story shows just how far you can go when you carve out a niche.

Louie Mansfield founded Grizzly Jig in 1991 in his garage. In earlier days, he pounded together the metal hulls of the river barges that ply Old Man River from New Orleans to the Great Lakes. However, like so many great American businesses founded in the shed, Louie’s creation would soon open up another world of opportunity for him and his family.

Join us on a visit to Louie’s Caruthersville creation in the first part of a series that will take you from the front doors to the checkout counter and the incredible storage facility (really, you’ll see next week) that helps make it all possible.

Mansfield estimates that Grizzly Jig has more crappie rods than any store on the planet. A large part of that has to do with the 196-page catalog and the online sales that support Grizzly’s brick-and-mortar operations.

“Caruthersville is four miles off of Interstate 55,” says Mansfield. “We have a huge draw from I-55. People from the north part of the state and Southern Illinois come down, and they make it a point to stop here. A lot of them fish Reelfoot (35 miles away). We actually had a fellow from Texas come in and say it was on his bucket list.”

A catalog, eBay store and website-based store would keep any business owner busy. But Grizzly also hosts an annual spring tackle show in their store and at the nearby Lady Luck Casino. The show, Mansfield says, lasts four days. “Every hour on the hour there’s a seminar starting. If he’s a crappie fisherman, a top name, he’s here.”

Mansfield says 2,500 to 3,000 people might pass through Grizzly’s show in a given year.

“I like the business,” says Mansfield. “I like being around fishing tackle. I like shooting the breeze with people, swapping lies, you know—that’s part of fishing.”

To feed all of that retail power, Grizzly conscripts the services of several storage facilities around Caruthersville—some old, some downright bizarre. When Mansfield offered us that chance to take a look “behind the curtain” to see them, including a disused shoe factory and a Swedish massage parlor, we couldn’t say no…

Next Week:

We visit the (strangely creepy) store rooms of Grizzly Jig to check out Mansfield and Co.