Even though it has been open for a few weeks now, Extreme Angler celebrated their grand opening March 6 and 7 in Oakley. It was a momentous occasion for Gary Estes and his partner Tim Gruber.
The tackle store, located on highway 4 in Oakley, has approximately 2,000 square-feet of retail space and their inventory includes everything for the "Extreme Angler." Whether you are committed to bass fishing or enjoy salmon, fly fishing, salt water, crappie or catfish, Extreme Angler has the items you need to have a successful fishing trip. Their staff knows fishing and are more than willing to help.
One customer stood looking at the various weights and said, "Well, they have just about one of everything."
Gary has been working towards his dream of owning a top-flight tackle retail business since he left the Marine Corps in 1992. For a while he worked with his father in the auto retail business and then was bitten by the tournament fishing bug. In 1997 he went to work for Hogan’s, an outdoor retailer, and decided then that he wanted to have his own outdoor retail store.
He took careful steps to learn all he could about the industry and took note of others successes and failures. Especially their failures. Gary also noticed how some retailers have let service take a back seat. "Service, atmosphere and friendliness separates a pro shop from a box store," said Gary. "It takes good communication between clients and associates to make a pro shop stand out."
Besides providing service to their clients, Gary also feels it is vital for them to be involved in their community. Not just their local community, but the fishing community as a whole. "Fishing is community and region," said Estes. "We have to work together to improve the sport, enhance camaraderie and to maintain the good reputation of the sport.
"The other part of community involvement is to make certain that our business benefits other local businesses by bringing more customers to the local restaurants, hotels and gas stations."
It has been a long road for Gary Estes and his wife Lisa. "I have to thank my wife for this, she is a big part of the team. There were many nights I talked about owning my own store finally she told me to quit talking about and do it."
In July of last year Gary began seriously moving towards his dream. He involved himself in extensive research to find where the market would serve him best and where he could provide the greatest benefit to the fishing community.
In the meantime, Tim Gruber stepped into the picture.
Tim teaches writing at the University of Phoenix and has a background in marketing. He has enjoyed fishing most of his life but was new to the bass fishing scene. Tim and his wife Teresa relocated to the area and it wasn’t long before Tim started fishing a few tournaments. As luck would have it, when he was looking for a lure or some advice, he found himself talking to Gary Estes.
"I was impressed with Gary’s honesty," Tim said.
When Gary mentioned that he wanted to open a store it caught Tim’s attention. He asked Gary if he would be interested in taking on a partner. Gary said he wasn’t looking for a partner and Tim understood his feelings. But, he kept thinking about it and finally went back to Gary and asked him to go fishing with him so they could talk about the possibility of a partnership.
After spending some time together, Gary realized how beneficial Tim would be to the team. They soon formed a partnership and plans were set in motion to open up their first store.
When asked what makes their store different, Tim Gruber said, "We pride ourselves on our service. We have a passion for fishing and a stronger passion for our customers to be successful."
Gary Estes said, "The difference is service, selection and value. I’ve learned a simple smile goes a long way. Acknowledge a person when they come through the door. Let the customer know they are a part of the shop."
At the grand opening, Tony Franchesci and Gary Dobyns were big hits with the crowds as they shared information with their fellow anglers. Everyone enjoyed the barbecue and, even though the weather was more conducive to fishing, the store was busy all day.
Extreme Angler will be starting a Kid’s Club this summer. Their goal is for kids to take fishing lessons and at the end, hold an event on the Delta.
If you’re looking for selection and service with a smile, stop by Extreme Angler. They are located at 1625 Main St. in Oakley. You can call them at 925-679-3115 or check out their website at www.extremeangler.net.