VERO BEACH — Island fisherman have a new resource for inshore and fly-fishing tackle – along with lots of other outdoor gear – since White’s Tackle opened at 3006 Cardinal Drive earlier this month.
White’s Tackle owner Scott Crippen joined forces with Dale Sorenson Jr., to open the 1,500-square-foot shop, which is the third location for a brand that dates to 1925 in downtown Fort Pierce. The new store features an upscale retail interior in a building that previously housed a bridal shop and dry cleaner. It will sell high-end fishing gear and sports clothes, perform custom rod and reel work, provide lessons and handle arrangements for fishing excursions to the Bahamas and other offshore locations.
Sorensen, who manages Dale Sorensen Real Estate, says of his involvement in the venture, “It was a natural fit – not only am I an avid outdoorsman, but many of our clients and friends are as well.
“For myself and Dale Sorensen Real Estate, our role will be to provide marketing and branding support to Scott Crippen’s already successful business model and to be an integral part of the event and travel planning. We are constantly looking for ways to evolve our network and those who enjoy the coastal lifestyle – living on the water, purchasing boats small and large, and traveling to destinations around the world in pursuit of [fishing] trophies – are consistently showing up at our closing tables.
“The shop will coordinate trips and provide guides from Vero to Jackson Hole to South America,” booking clients into sporting venues such as “Black Fly Lodge in the Abacos and KauTapen Lodge on the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.”
Crippen says the store’s business strategy is to serve local fishermen while also tapping into the tourist market. Fishing is a major tourism moneymaker in Indian River County in the winter season, with guided tours a key draw.
With many tourists staying in hotels only a block or two away, Crippen hopes to hook Vero oceanside visitors with his store’s array of upscale gear and high-end outdoor clothing, catering to customers who can buy a $200 Patagonia women’s fall jacket or a $650 Hook + Gaff watch featured in a display case.
The store’s fishing gear is designed for fly and inshore fishing, not off-shore, big-game fishing.
“Scott has two other stores that are very well stocked with big game tackle and so we both felt having the Vero store focus on inshore and fly fishing, along with other outdoor activities and travel, was the right choice,” Sorensen says. “Customers will be able to have offshore tackle delivered from the other White’s Tackle stores at any time.”
Crippen, a Vero Beach native who grew up in and lives in Fort Pierce, says he and Sorenson are longtime friends and have worked on opening a Vero shop for at least two years. After trying and failing to buy the free-standing building where the store is located, Crippen signed a lease on Aug. 1 and spent the next two months transforming the empty interior shell into an attractive retail space.
Sorensen says they picked the location, in part, because of its proximity to Humiston Park, where they will be able to offer fly-casting lessons.
Crippen says fly fishing is catching on with younger anglers and he hopes the store keeps that trend going. “You’re used to seeing crusty old guys fly fishing but now you’re seeing more young kids, too,” he says.
“Fishing locally is a very large part of the island lifestyle but when you expand it beyond local and to include activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, general boating and travel, it becomes an even larger part of the lifestyle,” Sorensen says. “The store will be much more than a fishing store and will have gear for all types of outdoor pursuits.”