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Discussion Starter #1
Since the problems with Bridge Bait seem to be shared by many, I was wondering if there is anyone on this board affiliated with Bridge Bait that was willing to give their view of the situation. It's a shame they run it like they do. They have a great business opportunity right in front of them but don't seem concerned about it. I would suspect that it really wouldn't take too much money to fix some things and really make a good business. I bet there would be at least 2, maybe three, times as many more popple willing to use their facilites and support more business if they would just fix the few things we are all complaining about.

Anyone?
 

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I did a little research and found that Bridge Bait is assessed at a value that I thought was moreless par for the course( that or else I'm traumatized by the increasing high prices in POC).


So you buy this place at the assessed value(yea right), what is it going to cost to improve it into a GOOD place? More importantly and the first thing to consider is what are your revenues going to be once you've solved the main problems that boaters are experiencing? I'm all about having a great place to launch and buy bait, but I'll be darn sure to be making a good profit if I was to invest into a place like that.

If you increase business by 2-3 times, are you going to have parking available for these new customers? If not, opps, another problem created.

Will the current launching facilities handle this increase in business or do additional ramps need to be made? If you need more ramps, ouch, better hike up the price of coakers to pay for those ramp and the land that's going to go bye-bye to make the ramps.

It wouldn't be hard to get a good estimate on the amount of money it would take to make it into a good ramp. I would guess somewhere around half of the assessed value?( not sure, just a rough estimate, haven't done my cost of marina upgrading homework just yet). Barring no great unanticipated events, you're looking at some dredging and ramp repair a long with better management of the entire operation once the place was upgraded to maintain a steady stream of business.

Sounds like a fun adventure. :D

Get Wild

Eric
 

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I printed all of the comments made in the other thread about Freeport and Bridge Bait and took them down to the owners yesterday. When we came in from fishing I found that nearly everyone there had read the posts and nearly all had comments. After hearing their side of the story, and owning two businesses of my own, I tend to side with them. The seasonal nature of their business, major storm damages, labor costs, bait costs, improvement costs, beaurocratic delays, EPA and COE delays and many other factors make it tough on a small business such as theirs.
When asked about the boats that tie up for long periods it was mentioned that they would have no business at all if they started running people off because they were tied up too long. Run off 10 people and they will tell 100 people not to go there. The incident will be blown way out of proportion and by the time it gets to the forums it will resemble nothing that actually happened. I remember the same thing happening to Beach Bait and their ramp awhile back. They were already having a hard time financially and then the ramp incident virtually killed them.
Eric made some very keen points. Someone with deep pockets and business sense, good community relations, great insurance and the ability to survive half the year on peanuts could do a lot of good down there. However, inside of ten minutes of opening they would be blasted for charging too much, being inattentive, not enough parking, etc, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
All good points regarding the environmental and regulatory.

Seasonality, maybe McGolpher is on to something...a Wahooters might help ease things through the winter.

I can sympathize with what an email thread taken out of context can do. However, they could still professionally try to manage the chaos and traffic flow through there. Maybe make one space a pick up/ drop off location. Hopefully for them, we won't have to see what happens if/when they have to survive on only 1 or 2 two boats tied up.
 

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personally if they could keep people from tying their boat in the ramp and have a place for pick up/drop would be a good thing.

I know a Wahooters would probably be a lot less seasonality.
 

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Saw a lot of good candidates for wahooters yesterday on the San Bernard. Man i love women in bikinis! I understand the owners point of view but there has to be more of a happy medium. the thing you got to remember is all of those people on the dock are customers and most are buying something. beer, food, something. last thing you want to do is **** them off.
 

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When I think back and picture in my mind 30 years of fishing, buying bait at many places, I can never recall a place that mainly sold bait where the owners seemed to be flourishing. I just don't see how you can sell enough bait to make much money to put back into a business to improve it, it will be real slow reinvestment buildup. I imagine that BB is making pretty decent money on people that stop there to drink and hang out also. Heck, when I was going there, they didn't charge to launch if you bought your bait there.

The only way I see a business like BB's making it real good is to be very diversified. Sell hot food, drinks, snacks, large tackle assortment, clothing, slips for rent, rent boats , charter business....There are many businesses on the water back east that rent boats with outboards, I see none of this in Texas, don't know why. Places back east have more tourist attraction at the beaches which attract a lot more people so renting boats is probably more worthwhile there, I don't know.

I just don't see a whole lot of revenue in operations like BB to make improvements. They probably are not willing to gamble on the return on investment or lack thereof and are satisfied with what the business is presently doing.
 

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I am surprrised that there aren't more places don't rent boat but I think it is because of maintance cost.
 

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A fortune is waiting to happen in Surfside. The place needs a complete facelift just like Kemah. A nice restaurant and bar with a view of the intercoastal playing non stop Jimmy Buffet would be a no brainer. Kemah is too crowded as it is......just shows there is room for more of the same. These would be different scenes of course but Kemah doesnt have the beach which would be a huge draw. The problem with Surfside is they need to classy it up to make the big bucks!
 

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It might be a me having a brain fart but isn't there a plan for new marina in Freeport. I think the problem are the refineries in Freeport and I am not sure people want to be vacation next to a refinery.
 

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I agree with the refineries, big eye sore. The industrial culture there is likely not to be overcome. I have had this conversation with a few different people before about coastal cultures. Don't hold it against me but I'm from the East Coast and the culture out there when it comes to beaches and coastline is dramatically different. It seems there are a lot more people that go to the beach on weekends and also live there. The beach communities and surroundings are pretty much populated in most areas along the east coast. This brings lots of money to those areas with all the people.

We visited my son in Hoboken , NJ in April and took a drive down the coast for probably 60 miles or more. The towns along the coast were phenomenal. The atmospere is just completely different then what I've seen anywhere in Texas when it comes to how built up things are how popular it is to live on or near the water. Not that I like crowded areas like Nags Head anymore but it takes investment and building up of an area to attract people and the more you attract, the more that gets built.

My wife and I married in '74 and the first year we were married, we checked on a lot on the sound side of Nags Head, NC, it was $14,000. Back then it was beyond our reach since we were only 20 yo. There was plenty of room for growth in the area. Today, you can't even find a lot available hardly, the entire Outer Banks from Duck down to Nags Head is completely built out for the most part. If you can find a lot, it will cost minimum $250,000.

I don't know what it will take for beachfront culture to catch on more at places like Freeport. Galveston and Kemah are excellent examples of built out areas that have a large attraction. Until someone decides to make a big investment in Freeport and/or further south, the people probably won't come. It really amazes me that there is so much open land available in places like Port Aransas. Port A is less built up then Nags Head was in the 1960's. Yet Port A and Aransas Pass for that matter, have huge potential. A really important factor for this whole beach/coast attraction thing probably has to do with the couple of centuries head start that the East and West coast had in terms of population.

If you ever get the chance to go out East, be sure to take the time to just drive the Outer Banks all the way to Ocracoke. That area is my wife and I's east coast paradise.

Having said all this, please know that I'm not knockin' Texas at all. It's just that I've often pondered the differences in coastal lands popularity and it is a little perplexing that there is so much available coastal land in Texas and it isn't more popular.
 

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Beach Bait & Tackle

I started fishing offshore around 1980 in Freeport.BBT was a great place to buy bait,ice, and gas for our offshore trips. If you bought ice a high school kid would go get it and take it to the boat for you. There was always lots of merchandise outside and it was a store that looked like you could buy anything for the Beach,bait, OR fishing. Just driving by made people want to stop and look.The parking lot at the boat ramp did not have pot holes. The boat docks were in great shape.There was even four slips. Fish cleaning tables were stainless steal and most likley still are. The same high school kids emptyied the fish cans every afternoon before they were rank. Although the dumpster at the entrance could knock a buzzard off a gut wagon.If you bought bait or ice at the store you were given a token(orange I think) that would allow you to use the boat ramp free. One older man watched the parking lot and made sure you paid or had a token. I cant remember about the store bathroom but there was always chemcans at the boatramp. I spent a ton of money on gas,bait, ice, beer,beer,beer, and food. There was also a fish market,Icehouse etc. I know that all of this was managed by one man and part of his family.There was and may still be the same lady who checked me out over and over again. Jimmy who is the son took over after his dads death????? Jimmy has always been helpful and given me any information I asked for. I am from Ft Worth and did not have this fine forum to ask questions back then.
My point is IT MUST BE MARKETING. THERE IS PLENTY OF ROOM AT BB&T. The boat ramp could be repaired.It is a little further through that cut but just think of the advantages.No current or barge wakes and plenty of room to tie up.More boats fish now out of freeport than ever before. I cant understand why a place such as this would fall on such hard times. Maybe there are circumstances I dont understand being from NORTH TEXAS. I love the coast and still like fishing from freeport. BBT could and should be a great place to go offshore from.
 

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Bridge Bait is fine it's the boaters that screw it up. I don't care how you do it it will be up to the boaters to manage themselves and have a little courtesy when they arrive and leave the dock.
 

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The lady at Bridge Bait said that Beach Bait & Tackle feel on really hard times after being whacked pretty good by the three storms that they endured this past year or so. She said that their first tragedy was when Buccees started taking all the fuel, ice and supplies business away. Then the storms hit and after that they were crippled by chat on another forum that usually caters to surf fishermen.

She said they can't even afford to buy bait or gear any longer and I reckon it's just a matter of time before they close their doors for good. The fish market is probably the only thing they have left that makes any money. That operation would be a great investment for soemone with enough money to put everything in place and then be able to survive the few years or more until it started paying off. Couple of million should do the trick...
 

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A few more things about Bridge Bait's situation. As crowded as it gets at times during the spring and summer, it can be dead during off peak months even when the weather is great. They pretty much stay open through all of it, which again costs them money. The regulars who come by just to hang out are probably their most consistant year round customers. Another factor about adding on or building out, is that they have to do some amount of renovation every year due to storms (not just hurricanes) flooding and generally beating up their place. As for the docks, I think for the most part even when packed most guys down there don't mind you tying up on the outside of them and walking across, especially if you are just running in to get bait etc. Of course there are some jerks, but that happens everywhere. Patience and courtesy will go a long way sometimes. I mostly bay fish and all the good locations (on the water and off) get crowded during good weather. I have been to several other launches that require you to pay to launch whether you buy bait or not, have very little parking, and basically no facilities but I don't see them all getting blasted for running their business the way they choose. If you had a bad experience down there, I would mention it to the owners (or whomever is working), if someone else has done something out of line they will do what they can to remedy it. Anyway, just my .02.
 

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I continue to launch (and trade regularly) at Beach Bait.

Yes it is a longer run to the jetties, but I feel it is worth it. I have much less crowding, and at the times I launch, don't have problems finding parking space.

I really like their cleaning tables (yep, the same ones I remember from 10 ~ 15 years ago) Still no shade!. I don't remember what they had 28 years ago when I started launching there. LOL

Mike
 

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gregd,
As a transplanted yankee myself, I have to speak up on your comments regarding the coast. From my perspective, the less "built-up" areas of the Texas coast are what makes it attractive to myself and many others. The ability to drive on the beach down here is awesome! I don't have a boat so I have to catch rides with people if I want to fish the bay/gulf but I do like to surf fish also. As more development comes, more beach access is lost (witnessed by the soon to be closed Galveston side of San Luis Pass). As with everything, there is a happy medium but I think the closed beaches and crowded development of the East Coast beaches is too much. I have been to most of them from Myrtle up to the Jersey Shore. I like the Outer Banks the best but they are getting over-built now as well.

I hope Port Aransas never changes as I think it is at the "happy medium" I speak about.

Please don't take my comments the wrong way Greg, just my opinion. The Third Coast charm has this Yankee wanting to stay for a little while longer.
 
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