You’ve heard of mom-and-pop operations?
Well, meet mom and pop.
Buddy Poindexter and wife, Janie, own and operate Poindexter’s Bait Shop, an unobtrusive little establishment perched off Highway 109 a mile north of the Cumberland River. It’s been in business for more than a half-century.
There were two sets of mom and pop Poindexters before Buddy and Janie.
Buddy’s grandfather Jim founded the bait shop in 1965. He and wife, Ruth, ran it until 1975.
Floyd, Buddy’s dad, and his wife, Betty, took over from 1975-2000.
Buddy and Janie became the third-generation Poindexter proprietors in 2000 and continue today.
The Poindexters have peddled a bunch of bait.
“It’s something our family enjoys doing,” said Buddy, who graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in finance. “I started helping my grandfather at the shop when I was a kid, then worked with my dad. You don’t do something this long if you don’t love it.”
How does a small, locally owned bait and tackle shop manage to survive nowadays, competing against mega-this and super-that national chains?
“It’s hard,” admits Buddy, who is assisted by brothers, Allen and Charlie. “We have to work at it. We’re open seven days a week. I guess if there’s a secret, it’s that we appreciate our customers and provide good service. In return, they keep coming back. You build up a pretty good customer base over 55 years.”
There are probably few outdoorsmen in Wilson, Sumner and surrounding counties who haven’t patronized Poindexter’s at some point through the decades.
“We have third- and fourth-generation customers,” Buddy said. “Someone will come in and talk about coming here with his grandfather when he was a little boy.”
Despite what the sign says, Poindexter’s sells much more than bait.
“We sell all kinds of fishing tackle,” Buddy said. “We also sell hunting equipment, including muzzleloader and archery gear. If we don’t have it in stock, we can order it. We can get anything a customer wants.”
I speak first-hand about customer service. I bought my first muzzleloader rifle at Poindexter’s about 25 years ago at the recommendation of outdoor writer Charlie Searcy.
Buddy patiently showed me how to load it and equipped me with all the accessories I needed from black powder and cleaning solvent to percussion caps, patches and bullets.
Good luck getting that kind of personal attention at most big outdoor outlets.
As for bait, Poindexter’s doesn’t only sell it by the bucket and the box; it sells it by the truckload, wholesaling to outlets in 11 Middle Tennessee counties.
“We ship minnows, shiners, crickets, nightcrawlers, liver and cut bait,” Buddy said. “Most of it is sold to convenience stores. Full-time bait shops are dying out.”
Yet Poindexter’s survives.
“We’re fortunate,” Buddy said. “We’ll keep going for at least a few more years. It’s hard to give up something you’ve loved all your life.”
Longtime outdoors columnist Larry Woody is a three-time winner of the Tennessee Sports Writer of the Year award and is the author of several books, including “Along for The Ride.” Woody covered NASCAR from the early 1960s until late 2007 in addition to SEC sports, minor league baseball, the Tennessee Titans and the Vanderbilt Commodores.