Vending machines are the new look in bait and tackle sales

By Tina Snell
Staff Writer
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Bill Boser, the owner of Northwood’s 24Hr Bait and Tackle, Little Falls, works on arranging the product in his machine located at the Holiday Store in Little Falls. He said vending is the way to go for fishermen on the move.

The idea has been around for a few years, but Bill Boser, Little Falls, has taken the idea to a new level. He has taken the concept of bait from a vending machine and perfected the process. His newly created business is Northwood’s 24Hr Bait and Tackle.

“This is unique. Gary Harsel started this product in 2006. He ran a bait and tackle shop in Pennsylvania and was tired of being awakened in the middle of the night by customers,” said Boser. “He wanted his customers to be able to purchase bait when they wanted it, but not by waking him up.”

The first machine was similar to a pop machine. Its only problem was the customers were not able to see the bait before buying it. Fishermen are particular that way. They want to make sure their bait is fresh, and alive.

The second generation machine added a window to view the bait.

Harsel’s business was bought out by Big Rock and Boser now purchases the vending machines from them.

“There is a need for bait in the area,” said Boser. “This is the age of vending. When people take time off from work to go fishing, they want to use their time efficiently. I am offering one-stop shopping.”

The machines, all owned by Boser, carry fresh bait. But he has taken the idea a step further and added a product line of Rapalas, Berkeley and Eagle Claw products, Yellowbird, Thill and more. There are even small scales and bug spray.

The night crawlers containers hold 12 or 24 worms. The wax worms, which will be available all year long, will sell in packages of 36 or in bulk. Angle worms will also come in counts of 36. Two sizes of leeches, either jumbo or small early in the season or medium and small during the summer when the heat has turned them soft, will be sold.

Minnows will also be vended from the machine. Boser said that keeping the machine at a constant 48 degrees will keep the minnows and the leeches fresh for about five days.

“I will be replacing anything left after five days,” he said, though he hopes he will just have to restock.

“There is no convenience fee, as seen with other machines, and the prices will be comparable with bait shops. It will just be more convenient to be able to shop when the urge hits to fish, not just when the local bait shop is open.

Boser also hopes to catch the fisherman who is traveling through the area on his or her drive up north, knowing their favorite bait store won’t be open when they arrive at their destination.

He is looking to place the machines in high-traffic areas, at businesses that are open 24 hours, but that don’t already sell bait and tackle.

Boser, who grew up in Pierz and is an avid fisherman, said he knows what fishermen want. He has fished Platte Lake and all the local rivers and streams his entire life.

The machines are currently in Little Falls at the Holiday Station east of Highway 10, Long Prairie, Sauk Centre, Avon and Milaca.