If you don’t have water, you can’t run a bait business, and about 10 years ago, Ron and Pam Bostic, of Taber’s Bait in Bemidji, were in trouble when their well malfunctioned.
“The Thieles of Owatonna originally stayed at our cabins for their summer vacation and that’s how we got to know them,” Ron said. “Vince is the father and Joe is the son. That day Vince came to the store and he could tell that there was a panic situation going on.”
Fortunately, Vince knew something about wells, and after inspecting the system, he determined what part was failing.
“So Vince called his son, who was shopping at L&M Fleet Supply. Joe bought the part and the two of them fixed the problem. My well was back in business, and they never asked for a dime in return,” Ron said.
“Every year we have been in business we have had instances like that. I won’t miss the stress and the chaos of running a bait store, but I will miss people like Vince and Joe,” he said, reflecting on his time in the bait and tackle business as he and Pam bid that lifestyle farewell.
Earl Taber opened Taber’s Bait in 1959, and the Bostics took over 15 years ago. During those 58 years, Taber’s Bait became the place for many tourists visiting the Bemidji area, for many resort owners, and for many of the local anglers to satisfy their tackle, minnow, crawler, wax worm, and leech needs. And Taber’s always had up-to-date information about what was biting, where it was biting, and what was the right bait to use.
“Our success has been because of us helping others and of others helping us,” Pam said. “After being in the bait business for 15 years, we have discovered that there are far more kind and nice people in the world than you would believe.
“I hope we were able to add something to the lives of the people who came through our place,” she said. “We tried to make people feel at home. This place has given us so many great memories, but it also completely tied us down. We missed many big family events and now we are going to make up for lost time.”
In 2002, the Bostics were living in Elk River but were hoping to purchase a mom-and-pop business with living quarters. Family vacations on Cass Lake had made them familiar with the Bemidji area, and when a realtor contacted them about Taber’s Bait, they checked it out.
“We chatted with Earl and his main question to us was, ’Do you have a strong marriage?’ ” Ron recalls. “He repeatedly asked that question. Fortunately, we do.”
With the decision made, Pam and Ron and their two children, Dylan and Emily, headed north to run what, at the time, was one of nine bait stores within the Bemidji city limits. One by one, however, those bait shops closed their respective doors, and on Sept. 30, Taber’s Bait will do the same.
“Buying Taber’s Bait 15 years ago absolutely was the right thing to do,” Pam said. “But now we are excited about what is ahead. We are excited about heading into our camper, doing everything, seeing everything, and going wherever the road takes us.”
“We are switching from having a plan for every day to having no plans at all,” Ron added.
“I think the Bemidji community was very proud of our bait shop and we were very proud to be part of the community,” he continued. “Our belief was that the customers always came first and they became like family to us. So many people have touched our lives and we are going to miss that (daily contact).”
“We are feeling sad to let go of such a big part of our lives,” Pam said. “Every day we are looking at walls that are getting more sparse. Every day I remember the people we have had the chance to share memories with and the relationships we have formed.
“But this also is a happy time for us,” she said. “When we bought Taber’s we thought we could breathe new life into a historic place and we feel we did that.”