MILWAUKEE — A married couple moves from Mississippi to Milwaukee in the 1950s. In the 1960s, they try opening up an ice cream shop, a candy shop, and a fish market to no avail. Then they try opening a bait and tackle shop. Fifty-two years later, one of the most unique bait and tackle shops is still standing.
"It's been one long journey. It’s been fun. We met some good people," Tommie White, one of the many siblings who owns A and C Live Bait on Center Street in Milwaukee, said.
Tommie White and his siblings are the ones to keep the lights on after their parents passed the business down to them. While Tommie looks over his store, he sees more than just fishing rods and bait.
"It just reminds me of where we came from and how far we’ve gone," he said.
White's parents were sharecroppers in Mississippi. They moved to Milwaukee and kept trying different businesses until one stuck.
It's one of the only black-owned bait and tackle shops in the Midwest, and it's been around for 51 years. pic.twitter.com/C76q0yXrDv— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) December 17, 2019
Once this store got some momentum, Tommie said nothing was going to stop it.
"When Walmart moved in the corner I thought that was probably the demise of us but little did I know that made our business even better.”
Simply because of loyal customers.
"I do have customers that have actually been carried into here and put back into their wheelchair.”
What makes this bait shop unique though is that White said it’s one of the only black-owned bait shops in the Midwest and one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the state.
"We're unique and we know that.”
Plus, for nearly 30 years, it was open for 24 hours a day seven days a week serving the night shift crowd.
"They got off work at night they would want to go off and doing something to wind out so they would come in a go fishing.”
Unfortunately for the night owls, they don’t do that anymore. Fortunately for us, the shop shows no signs of slowing down. Tommie would like to make it bigger.
"I would probably like to add on to this building or tear this building completely down and build another building.”