Spokane Journal of Business

A fishionado tackles the Web

Northwest Classic Tackle

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I fish because I love to; because I love the environs where trout are found, which are invariably beautiful; because trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power .

Bud Frasca, of Coeur dAlene, says those lines, penned by Robert Traver, sum up his feelings about fishing, a sport to which hes so devoted that hes also made it his business.

Frasca says he founded his Internet-based company, Northwest Classic Tackle, in January 2001 as a way to indulge both his love of fishing and his hobby of collecting antique fishing gear. Now, he sells merchandise all over the world from his Web site, northwestclassictackle.com, and, as of late, has been making decent money at it, too, grossing about $25,000 a month in sales, he says.

Despite that success, a visitor to his Web site often is likely to find the cyber version of a Gone Fishin sign, because Frasca says he doesnt let his business interfere with his enjoyment of the sport.

I dont mind packing orders for a couple hours a day, but Im not going to let it get to 10 hours a day that Im working, he says. Life is shortI could walk out the door today and get run over by a car, so you should try to do the things you want to do, if possible.

Frasca, 55, developed his love of fly-fishing while growing up in New York City, he says. Starting in high school, he worked for a tackle retailer there, and fished on the weekends on the Beaverkill River in the Catskill Mountains.

His career took him about as far away from the Beaverkill as a person could get, however, to Vacaville, Calif., where he owned two branches of a mortgage-lending business, Central Pacific Mortgage.

During the about 20 years he was in the mortgage business, hed make frequent trips to what he calls the worlds garden spot of fly fishingDillon, Mont. One year, when he had his wife and two kids along, he proposed a side trip from Dillon to Seattle, and the family made it as far as Coeur dAlene before they stopped for the night.

My wife said, Goodness, this is like Tahoe; I could live here, at which time I called a Realtor, Frasca recalls. He sold his mortgage-loan offices and moved to North Idaho seven years ago.

At the time, he planned to continue in the mortgage business but at a greatly reduced level, and, naturally, fish, Frasca says.

A longtime collector of vintage fishing gear, he also decided to follow a close friends advice and see if he could turn that avocation into a business, he says.

I decided Id start a Web site, because that way I dont have to have a retail store and dont have to be there seven days a week, Frasca says.

He stocked his Web site with gear from his own voluminous collection.

I had about 350 bamboo rods at one time, and I decided that anything I hadnt used in 15 years was going to go, he says.

The business took off quickly, and orders came in from across the U.S., England, Japan, and Australia.

He replenishes his stock by taking items on consignment, buying from other dealers, and by upgrading his own collection, then selling whatever it is hes replaced, he says. His biggest source of inventory, however, is his own Web site, where he prominently features a page for people to sell their gear to him.

The simple Web site contains electronic catalogs of fly rods, reels, flies, lures, fishing books, hunting gear, and miscellaneous accessories. Prices for the merchandise range from under $10 to more than $4,000, and occasionally higher than $10,000 for an exceptionally hard-to-come-by bamboo fly rod.

About 75 percent of the merchandise sold on the site is vintage, with one section devoted to selling new merchandise.

He photographs the merchandise and loads the pictures and descriptions onto the Web site from his home computer, and keeps his inventory in a storage unit.

Frasca says Northwest Classic Tackle is an ideal business for him at this stage in his life.

A health scare a few years ago taught him to savor his days, he says, and he does: he works on his business for a few hours in the morning, makes a trip to the post office to ship products, and still has plenty of time to spend with his kids, to teach other young people to fly fish, to serve on the board of the 130-member North Idaho Fly Casters club, and to travel.

Fishing is a great sport. I dont think there are any better people in the world than fly-fishermen, he says. Its a sport thats laced with history. (And) I dont know of any places that are prettier than trout streams.

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