JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Pioneer Bait Shop in Jamestown has been open for 37 years and Thelma Trecker doesn't plan to close up shop anytime soon.
“It’s been an enjoyable run,” said Trecker, owner and operator of Pioneer Bait Shop in Jamestown. “I want to keep going until I've been in here for 40 years. Maybe I will go longer.”
Pioneer Bait Shop sells fishing equipment, including jigs, lures, spinners, lines and sinkers. The shop also has bait such as nightcrawlers, smelt and minnows. Leeches are also available during certain times of the year.
“We have leeches in the spring,” she said. “Leeches kind of go down in September.”
Fishing licenses are also available at the shop. Pioneer Bait Shop, at 508 5th St. NW, has two certified scales to weigh large fish or whoppers.
David Schmidt, president of Dakota Anglers, a Jamestown area club, said Pioneer Bait Shop has everything it needs for fishing, including good quality bait and lots of tackle.
“You can’t go to all the other places and get the tackle that she has,” he said.
Local businesses in smaller cities like Jamestown provide the best avenues for out-of-town visitors to learn about the community and activities that it offers, said Searle Swedlund, Jamestown Tourism executive director. He said it is critical for the Jamestown community to have businesses that support visitors from other areas.
“Fresh bait and bait that is in line with the evolving rules and regulations with North Dakota Game and Fish, it really makes it possible for those visitors to have the best experience possible,” he said. “ … People seek these businesses out because they can provide a level of knowledge and relationship to the land that a lot of other places cannot.”
Trecker’s husband and son used to sell bait on their farm located about 32 miles north of Jamestown. She said one of their customers owned the property where Pioneer Bait Shop is located and eventually sold it to the Treckers.
Pioneer Bait Shop currently gets minnows from a family in Edmunds and the rest of its bait from a wholesale company in North Dakota, Trecker said.
“That’s why I like a lot of the stuff she has,” Schmidt said. “She does it locally.”
Trecker said customers range from young kids to older people. When younger children come to the shop, she makes sure they get a candy worm.
“They can’t leave here without a candy worm,” she said. “The little kids when they grow up and bring their kids, they look at me and say, ‘Can I still have one?’”
Schmidt said Trecker likes to see children get involved in fishing.
“She is always happy to see you come in with kids,” he said. “She usually has a candy jar there for kids.”
Trecker enjoys the loyal customers. She said they teach her things about fishing lures and she tells them what she knows as well.
Schmidt said Trecker knows a lot about fishing and promotes the local area. He said she has many repeat customers who share information with her so she can share it with the public as well.
“You can spend some time talking to them whereas a lot of the other bait shops, in some cases, you just go in, they give you the bait, you pay for it and you are out the door,” he said. “But she will visit with you and tell you a lot of times where the fish are being caught and what they are catching.”
Schmidt also said Pioneer Bait Shop is open later in the evening and earlier in the morning on many occasions.
Trecker offered some advice to keep a business going for a long period of time.
“Be friendly. If you can help them, direct them or go out of your way to do what you can to help them get the product they are looking for,” she said. “Be honest with the person. If you can't get it, tell them you can't.”