WILLSBORO — Kristen Hotaling loves the great outdoors and is looking forward to sharing her passion with other sporting enthusiasts.
“People are glad we are here and want us to order more stuff,” said Hotaling during the grand opening of Willsboro Outdoor World, which bills itself as Lake Champlain’s premier bait and tackle shop.
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Though the enterprise is not housed in a warehouse-sized facility, it has several advantages, among them personal service.
“We’re small enough to find out what people want and order for them,” Hotaling explained.
Another positive service to provide for customers is opening at six in the morning.
“This should be great for tournament fishermen,” she said. “Many come to this area and fish. There are also places for them to stay and eat nearby. It’s a lot easier to come here rather than Plattsburgh.”
In order to provide extra services, Hotaling has been working with the Rotary Club as well as Lake Champlain International (LCI) to assist in their tournaments as well as be an official weighing station.
According to Hotaling, the recent upward spiral of fisherman attracted to Lake Champlain and its tributaries for lake trout and Atlantic landlocked salmon demands a premier destination point for fishing and outdoor supplies.
Hotaling has fished Lake Champlain all of her life and is a second-generation entrepreneur. Her father, Jim Hotaling, has owned and operated Trolling Tina Charters on Lake Champlain for more than 20 years. In addition, he and his wife, Tina, had previously managed Champlain Angler Sports, which closed approximately a decade ago at the same location.
“I know the area and I know fishing, so this is my passion and I plan to run this business for the fishermen and outdoorsmen who have my same passion,” Hotaling said.
With her business and entrepreneurship-related degree from Plattsburgh State, Hotaling felt an opportunity existed.
“Why don’t I do something the town needs and the family loves?” Hotaling asked, listing her foremost rationale for creating the enterprise. “My dad, Jim, has been my primary consultant and has helped me a lot. This is a great opportunity for me and a great resource for the amateur and experienced outdoorsmen to have their needs met locally.”
Hotaling has been cognizant of the return of fishermen to Lake Champlain after several years of decline, primarily due to the sea-lamprey epidemic, which had infested the once-pristine waters. The parasitic creature resulted in a decrease in size as well as leaving ugly scars on surviving fish. With lamprey control programs set up both in New York and Vermont, the fish size has increased and the lamprey marks have diminished bringing back the fisherman who once fished here for their prized catch.
Gracing the façade of the shop is a large, colorful mural created by Kristen’s brother, Tom Sampson, the water of which appears to shimmer in the sunlight.
Kristen feels Willsboro Outdoor World will be the premier live bait and tackle shop in this part of the Lake Champlain Valley region. The product lines will also offer supplies and resources for hunters, hikers and campers.
Willsboro Outdoor World is planning on meeting the needs of the new and inexperienced enthusiasts as well as the experienced and sophisticated outdoorsmen.
”The goal is to assist Willsboro and the surrounding region to be a destination point for outdoorsmen and anglers of every type,” Hotaling said.
Willsboro Outdoor World is located on the corner of Route 22 and Bay Lane in Willsboro.
Hours currently are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. For additional information, call 569-5006 or email Khota003@gmail.com.
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