US retail store celebrates centenary year
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Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle first opened its doors in the baseball city of Baltimore in 1916 – and the family-owned business is still ‘pitching’ strongly 100 years later.
Founded by Thomas Tochterman on the first floor of his home in cobble-stoned Eastern Avenue, the business began as a bait shop, but has since expanded into an ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of all things fishing.
Customers have included baseball stars Ted Williams and Boog Powell, US senator Barbara Mikulski, the late Governor William Schaefer and fly fishing legend Lefty Kreh.
Kreh, 90, bought his first fly rod at Tochterman’s in 1948. “Whether you want specialist deep water tackle or a small fly rod, they have it,” says Kreh. “The business was built on the concept of customer importance. Whatever you buy, you don’t walk out without knowing how to use it.”
The disappearance of tackle shops as primary routes to market in many countries makes the enduring story of Tochterman’s even more remarkable and is testimony to the old values of customer service and product choice.
Today, the shop is run by Tony Tochterman, 66, grandson of the founder and successor to his dad, Tommy Jr, whose ashes are kept in a cigar humidor displayed in the store.
Despite its long history and expansion into four adjoining buildings, Tochterman’s has retained its traditional feel. Says Tony: “It’s more like an old hardware store than Home Depot. People want to step back in time and hear the floor creak. We have touched many peoples’ lives over six or seven generations.”