BY SHERI TRUSTY
Herb’s Bait and Tackle, an iconic, three-generation business, has been sold, and its new owners want to hold hands with the shop’s history as they walk Herb’s into the future. Co-owner Greg Duplin said they are turning Herb’s into an upscale bait and tackle shop and drive-thru.
The drive-thru is now open, and the bait store is scheduled to open this spring.
“It will be a boujee bait store,” Greg said. “We want to be a destination. We want to be good at what they did for 60 years but expand on that. Everything is upscaling here.”
Herb’s Bait and Tackle was founded by Herb Aust in the 1960s. Since then, it attracted a loyal following who regularly stopped by the shop for minnows and ice on the way to the lake. Now, Greg wants to broaden the shop’s appeal even more by offering products for a wider audience.
The shop will offer upscale convenience products and online ordering that will be especially helpful for residents and visitors of Put-in-Bay. By ordering online, shoppers can pull through the drive-through, pick up their already-bagged order, and head to the Miller Ferry dock five minutes down the road.
Herb’s will have a wide variety of products for many needs. In addition to bait and tackle, customers can buy wine, beer, pop, lottery tickets, cigarettes, cigars, salty snacks, ice, hats, t-shirts and suntan lotion.
“We’ll have upscale craft beer, cheeses and grass-fed beef. We’ll have a beer cave and a coffee bar,” Greg said. “We’re providing more options for Catawba Islanders. One of our strategic goals is to be a year-round business.”
Greg purchased Herb’s on Nov. 11 with co-owners Justin Fox, Kevin Ramey, Brad Jordan and Evan DeLuca.
“We all bring a unique skillset, and they are all hunters and fishermen. I probably wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on buying this without them,” Greg said.
Herb’s will be managed by Greg’s nephew, Andrew Duplin, an OSU graduate and boat broker. The shop is currently taking applications for many positions in the store.
“I think this is a great opportunity for everyone on Catawba Island,” Andrew said.
Greg, who lives in North Canton, has been visiting Lake Erie since 1964 and has owned a local lake home for over two decades. The idea to own a store near Lake Erie sprouted 25 years ago when Greg and his wife, both corporate executives, were driving through town.
“We’d both had a tough week, and my wife said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to sell bait and make sandwiches?’” Greg said. “I always had an itch to be an entrepreneur up here.”
Now, Greg is making his dream come true while preserving an historic Catawba business.
“We’re trying to reinvent the bait store, the convenience store and the drive-thru for what works for Catawba Island,” he said.
The drive-thru at Herb’s Bait and Tackle is currently open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The drive-thru door is closed during inclement weather, but if the exterior lights are on, the drive-thru is open.
Herb’s Bait and Tackle is at 1713 NE Catawba Rd., Port Clinton. For more information, call 419-797-2455.