Baxter's Bait & Tackle, Stockton
Baxter's Bait & Tackle store front. Courtesy Roger Hrabe.
Hundreds of fishing lures. Courtesy Roger Hrabe.
Lots of fishing and hunting gear.
All you need for fishing and hunting. Courtesy Roger Hrabe.
Owners Blaine and Diane Baxter. Courtesy Roger Hrabe.
424 Main, Stockton, KS 67669 [map this location]
Baxter's Bait and Tackle is a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce because it has a huge inventory for a small town and is known as the "Little Cabela's."
Blaine Baxter had a hardware store on Main Street since 1967. But about twenty years ago one of his high school aged children needed a summer job so Blaine opened the bait and tackle shop. Since then all five kids have worked there. He and his wife Diane opened the shop so the kids would have a place to work but then they "forgot to close," as Blaine says.
They are open 365 days a year. In the winter they are "only" open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. but otherwise from dawn to dusk.
Bait shops are scattered throughout Kansas and often in small towns by one of the reservoirs. Most of them come and go. But why would a bait and tackle shop be a finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce?
The main reason isn't very flashy. It's because a family-owned business like Baxter's is as beneficial to a town of 1,500 as a manufacturing plant is to a larger city.
Open every day of the year, they are an anchor, a constant presence on main street and frequently the shop brings some pretty big spenders to the downtown. The value of this is priceless to a rural community.
The key to their business may be the eight area outfitters who cater to non-resident hunters. In turn, Baxter's presence is also convenient and helpful to the outfitters. The mutual support helps both be successful. Area folks are pleased that a store with anything you need for an afternoon of fishing is close by.
Baxter's is a relatively small store and the only reason it isn't totally filled with inventory is because they need to leave some room for customers to walk. They have everything an outfitter or a one-day fisherman could need - and if they don't they'll be glad to order it.
Baxter's also serves as one of the main tourism attractions in Stockton. Old time gear is displayed on shelves around the top of the room. Even people that don't know anything about fishing or hunting find the store rather intriguing.