Shoreline Bait & Tackle
Tom Chigaridas has always loved to fish.
He recently turned that passion into his own business, starting the state’s first mobile bait and tackle shop.
Family Times recently talked to Chigaridas about the inspiration behind Shoreline Bait & Tackle, the reaction by the community, and his plans for the future.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
1. Can you start by telling me a little about the inspiration behind Shoreline Bait & Tackle?
I spent summers as a kid at my grandparent’s camp in Constantia, on the north side of Oneida Lake. My grandfather and I went fishing every day. We fished until 9-10 a.m., then would go back out at 4 p.m. He passed away when I was in my early teens, but I never lost that passion for fishing. As an adult, initially I wanted to be a professional angler, to be on TV in the Bassmaster Tour. But that was never really an option or feasible, so my next passion was a bait and tackle shop. I never thought there would be an opportunity until I started really digging into and looking at storefronts. But brick and mortar, you’re stuck at that location. It has to be the best location, otherwise you’re only going to see so much business. So, I said, ‘What about bringing it to everybody, building a mobile bait and tackle shop?’ That idea came this past October. All winter long, we went through the process of making it a business, getting all the legal stuff taken care of, and then figuring out how we can get this to the public.
2. What has been the reaction from the community so far?
The reception has been great. People need it. There’s a few around locally around the county and surrounding counties, but they’re all at specific waterways. So, if you’re going to fish that waterway after work, you have to hope they’re open, otherwise you have to plan ahead. Everybody is very interested. A lot of them follow us on social media; we have a pretty big following now. Everyone wants more, they want to see it all around. Essentially, that’s what I’m building the business into. I started with a truck and table and tents, and realized after my first weekend, I need a trailer. So, I bought a fully enclosed trailer. I’m waiting for that to be delivered in a few weeks.
3. What types of products/services do you offer?
Right now, we have trout lures for stream fishing. I offer live worms, an assortment of worms, salted minnows. We also hooked up with another local Camillus company, who hand paints and ties all of his lures, so I carry a large line of his products from bucktail jigs for walleye to little squirrel tail jigs and flies for trout. We have worm harnesses. Panther Martin, I was able to do business with them, they are out of Long Island. They’re a very popular trout lure.
What are some of the locations where customers can find you?
We do a lot of business at Munroe Park in the village of Camillus. We are in the town of Marcellus as well, along the stream, at the public access points. I’m working with the county right now to be able to set up at the county park on Otisco Lake, as well as at Oneida Shores.
4. What would you say sets you apart from your competitors?
Other than being the only one in the state right now, my hours and the ability to give that outdoor in-person experience. When you’re at the stream, people are coming up and saying, ‘What’s working? What’s not?’ You get that in a tackle shop, but this is right there, right where people need it. A lot of it is Q&A too. Even if they don’t buy anything, I just build that relationship.
5. What do you see in the future for Shoreline Bait & Tackle?
We are working on an at-home tackle shop service. People can schedule me to come to their house and they get me for 30 minutes for a minimum fee, whether they’re buying it themselves or their friends came together to hit that minimum. That’s going to be a huge hit because now people can just schedule me to be there when they get home from work or before they leave for their fishing trip. I’ll be doing that with the trailer I just purchased. And then in three to five years, I’m hoping for a food truck type vehicle; no food, it’s just full of bait and tackle. That’s what I envision.
For more information, visit mobiletackleshop.com.
Charlee’s Ice Cream
Nothing says summer quite like grabbing an ice cream cone.
Kristin Hussong and her family have always loved the sweet treat. They recently opened Charlee’s Ice Cream in Camillus, offering a variety of kid-friendly menu items, many of which were designed by the Hussongs’ four children
Family Times recently talked to Hussong about the business’ roots, its most popular products and what she sees in the future for Charlee’s Ice Cream.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
1. Can you start by telling me a little about the inspiration behind Charlee’s Ice Cream?
Camillus didn’t really have any ice cream shops that were central to that area – we have a couple that are on the outskirts. Another business, Carol’s Polar Parlor, ended up closing. They knocked it down about a year and a half ago. Ice cream has always been a big thing for our family. We would go after baseball games, and with COVID, it’s one of the few things that were deemed safe. We realized there was a need and felt it would be a really cool thing to do as a family. So, we started searching for properties and that’s where Charlee’s Ice Cream was born.
2. What types of products do you offer?
We have your traditional ice cream shop things. We carry something similar to a blizzard (we call it a bomber), soft ice cream, hard ice cream, milkshakes, and sundaes. My daughter came up with a unicorn sundae. We have a Lego sundae that has edible block candy that you can actually build with. There’s a dirt sundae that has gummy worms and cookies that look like dirt. My one kid loves peanut butter and jelly, he would eat it all day every day if he could, so we have a peanut butter and jelly sundae that he wanted to add to the menu. All the kid ideas came from them. We have a couple different things that you can’t find elsewhere.
What have been the most popular?
Definitely our most popular product is our Reese’s Pieces sundae. People love that. We get really good feedback on our ice cream in general. We carry, pretty exclusively, Perry’s Ice Cream. They’re based right outside of Buffalo. Ive always loved their ice cream, and there’s not a ton of places that have it around here, so that’s why we decided to do that. The kids love the kid stuff, like the unicorn and Lego sundaes.
3. What would you say sets you apart from your competitors?
Everywhere wants to be really good at customer service, but all of the kids we hired, when our kids are behind the counter, when I’m behind the counter, we want it to be a family atmosphere. We really push customer service. We want it to be almost like a Chick fil A, where you come in and you’re greeted, and you feel very welcomed. We want to have a community feel. I want it to be different than a walk-up ice cream stand, where you just grab what you want and go. Inside our shop, we have pictures that kids have drawn us – they’re in frames. I want it to be something that they’re proud of, and they love to go to. Where they can just sit for a while and talk as a family.
4. What do you see in the future for Charlee’s Ice Cream?
We would love to branch out into multiple locations. Our vision is just to support this community. If that means sports teams get a better jersey or an elementary school gets a new version of books, or something like that, we’ve started doing a lot of fundraisers. We want to be able to be helpful to this community. I want that community feel to continue to grow.
5. Is there anything else you would like Family Times readers to know about your business?
Stay tuned for activities that go on during summer. A couple weeks ago I brought in a local author and she did a book read. I’d love to do that. Someone is going to do a watercolor paint class for little kids. That kind of thing, where we’re supporting local.
For more information, visit charleesicecream.com.