Dave's Bait Shop co-owner Ian Hush has fond memories of the store where he served many customers who were all eager to share their fishing adventures.
Dave's Bait Shop co-owner Ian Hush has fond memories of the store where he served many customers who were all eager to share their fishing adventures. Marc Stapelberg

One of Ballina's oldest shops saved in the final hour

Fishing store to stay open: 74-year-old business was set to close
Fishing store to stay open: 74-year-old business was set to close

ONE of Ballina's oldest shops could have sunk into the depths of history.

But another business has hooked a fresh opportunity - and saved Dave's Bait Shop - by swooping in on the institution that's loved by locals and tourists alike.

Ian and Sheryl Hush bought the 74-year-old business more than seven years ago in 2011 and said it will get a "fresh start" after it was flagged to close permanently.

 

Hooked on Brewing and BBQ co-owner Jay Morgan is excited to be able to ensure Dave's Bait Shop will continue to serve customers after taking over the business and ensuring the fishing store will continue operating in Ballina with it's 75 anniversary approaching.
Hooked on Brewing and BBQ co-owner Jay Morgan is excited to be able to ensure Dave's Bait Shop will continue to serve customers after taking over the business and ensuring the fishing store will continue operating in Ballina with it's 75 anniversary approaching. Marc Stapelberg

"Luckily a purchaser has come along at the last minute and wants to continue it," Mr Hush said.

Dave's Bait Shop's last trading day is today and the shop will reopen at the first weekend of March under new owners Jay Morgan and Cassandra from Hooked on Brewing and BBQ in Ballina.

The new owners will merge their current business with the bait shop at 3/271 River St - which will have a fresh new look and feel and a new name upon reopening.

"It's an iconic business and is part of the fabric of Ballina," Mr Hush said.

"Ballina has historically been a fishing town for locals and tourists. There's a lot of people that have come to Ballina at Christmas time for 20-30 years.

"It's that style of business and the sort of thing where you make a lot of friends. 98 per cent of people walking out that door are actually happy about what they're about to do.

"Because you're a part of the fabric of the town you get to know a heck of a lot of people. You walk down the street and everybody's waving at you. It's a great feel.

"I am glad it's being bought because I wasn't looking forward to closing the doors on a 74-year-old business."

Mr Hush said over the last couple of years he has seen a change in the demographic which was a new learning curve for the fishing shop.

"The demographic is changing so the younger people coming through are a different style of fisher people than the older people. The new owners coming in are a lot younger than us and they have a lot more nous in that area than we do ... it's great it's going to someone that can give it a rebirth.

"We couldn't wait to hop on our bikes after school and go fishing but there's a lot more distractions for younger people these days. They can actually get quite a bit of their fishing hit off their ipads on Youtube without getting the actual feel of being out in nature...it's very different and that's what we've seen a big change in over the last couple of years.

"The older guys have unfortunately died or can't go as much any more and the younger ones are keen but not keen in the same way - but it's still a very viable business."

He said loyal customers were upset to hear it was closing but upon discovering it was under offer they said it was great news.

"The other thing Sheryl and I have been keen on is supporting the families. It gets them outside and it's not about the fishing - there's so much on a waterway that goes on while they are out there fishing.

"I took my grandkids out on the river and all of a sudden there's a turtle, or a dolphin and they'd squeal with delight. That's what it's all about - having good quality time together outdoors.

"Fishing is still one of the cheapest pastimes."

New owner Mr Morgan said he has shopped at Dave's Bait Shop since moving to Ballina about 11 years ago.

"It'll be a 75-year-old business next year and one of the oldest businesses in Ballina so I couldn't let it close," he said.

"There will be a big focus on fresh, local and live bait. Then with the barbecues and beer brewing it will all mesh together."