Chase Outdoors’ new location in Cedar Creek Mall has been open only a few weeks, and already the move is proving fruitful for the locally-owned hunting and fishing equipment store. And it’s not even peak season.
“The first frosty morning we have, the store will fill up with guys whose minds have switched from boats and summer to fall season,” says owner Justin Gaiche.
Gaiche spent about two weeks moving merchandise from the old location, at 21 Brown Blvd. in Rothschild, before opening at the new store. At about 4,100 square feet, the new location more than doubles the sales floor space he had previously.
“Expanding is something we’ve been looking at doing for over a year,” Gaiche says. The store has been growing fast in the two years since it first opened. Customers drive from places such as Wisconsin Rapids, Rhinelander and Merrill to Chase Outdoors in search of high quality hunting and fishing equipment.
That made Cedar Creek a prime location, Gaiche says. It’s near the highway, which helps serve out-of-town customers while also making it a nice stop for folks traveling up north. Having the hotels and convention center with sporting goods shows nearby doesn’t hurt either, Gaiche says.
The Cedar Creek Mall itself has experienced something of a resurgence lately, with businesses such as Planet Fitness and Phantom Laser Tag moving in. “I think this mall is on the upswing, things are going well,” Gaiche says.
Hunting and fishing enthusiasts tend to get to know and trust the people they buy from, Gaiche says, and Chase is a good place for that. Gaiche cut his teeth working at big box outdoor retailers such as Gander Mountain, where he worked for 13 years, but says Chase customers like knowing who they'll see when they walk through the door. Buying from like-minded people is important in this industry, Gaiche says. “So many bigger retail chains, the bigger they get, the farther away they get from that foundation [of hunting and fishing],” Gaiche says.
For example, bows and arrows have changed over the years. The industry is constantly evolving, Gaiche says. One look at the archery wall demonstrates that, with the oddly-angled carbon fiber limbs and large, attached cams.
Fishing is like that too, Gaiche says. A common scenario: A pro fisherman will win a tournament using a certain fishing lure; the next week Gaiche will be inundated with requests for that same bait. That’s where being small and independent helps him. Gaiche can special order and get that lure quickly for his customers. “This is the trendiest industry in the world,” Gaiche says.
The secret to success lies not only in sales, Gaiche says. Service is a crucial aspect of the business. “Anyone can sell a bow, but to have it tuned right and shoot perfectly is not something the average person can do,” Gaiche says.
Chase Outdoors will have its grand opening celebration Sept. 9-10, with giveaways from vendors and seminars from outdoors experts such as Hall of Fame angler Joe Bucher. Check out Chase Outdoors on Facebook or at chase-outdoors.com.
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