As a coastal city, it’s no surprise that Wilmington is brimming with anglers eager to hit the water this summer. As such, the area is home to a number of fishing shops. From bait to hooks, these shops carry essential items for every fishing trip. But along with the popularity of beaches and boating comes a market for branding the coastal lifestyle – something these locally based companies are tapping.
In September 2004, Phillip David, a lawyer by trade, bought Intracoastal Angler, a long-standing fishing supply and lifestyle shop based out of Wilmington. The David family was initially drawn to take over the business when it went up for sale because fishing is a huge part of their lifestyle. David’s son, Jackson, recalls how his dad would put him in their bass boat as a kid, and from there they’d go bass fishing at Sutton Lake.
“It was such a big part of our life and our family that it was an easy decision for my dad, for my mom and I,” Jackson David said. “It was something we wanted to be a part of in more of a way than just going out on the weekend and doing our fishing stuff.”
Today, almost 20 years later, Phillip and Jackson run the shop together and serve as co-owners. Jackson David graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington six years ago with a degree in communications. He loves fishing and spending time with his family, so joining his father at their family-run business was a no-brainer.
Currently, Jackson David oversees much of the shop’s online sales, while he and Phillip David oversee a lot of the marketing efforts. Additionally, they help their two managers with day-to-day operations. The shop has nine employees, in addition to the Davids, who they credit as being essential to the shop’s success.
As for their products, the shop tries to sell anything and everything for the outdoor/fishing lifestyle, which can include shoes, hats, sunglasses, rods, reels and fishing tackle.
“We carry a little bit of everything,” Jackson David said. “We’ve got over 20,000 SKUs of items in the shop. We carry hooks, obviously. We carry different kinds of bait for all aspects of fishing, anything from fishing in the freshwater creeks for brim and bass all the way through catching 1,000-pound swordfish or anything of the sort. And then we carry all the essential necessities to go with that, gas and nets. Pretty much, anything fishing-related, we stock it or stock some sort of it.”
A recent bestseller at the shop has been its apparel brand, which has been especially popular among its younger shoppers.
“Our apparel brand is such a big thing that’s been taking off that we’ve really put a lot of focus and emphasis on that too,” Jackson David said. “We stock probably 30 different brands of outdoor apparel that go well with the fishing stuff, including our own private label, which is really becoming a big hit around town.”
Intracoastal Angler T-shirts are being spotted on fishing fans and nonanglers, alike, as well as across age demographics – from older patrons to trendy teens.
Jackson David credits the reason behind the apparel being such a big hit to area residents wanting to be part of a family-owned, local brand.
“That’s really the spirit of what our business is, a family-owned, original brand from Wilmington,” he said, “and that’s something that I think everyone wants to be a part of, and we’re really thankful that it’s that way.”
Beach & Barn
With its surfing rooster logo, Beach & Barn has grown into a brand that includes casual polos, hats, tees, flannels, fleece and kidswear.
But the Wilmington-based company’s roots are in a very different field from apparel.
Rusty Meador founded Beach & Barn as a carpentry and renovation company. He had been working in construction management and real estate development locally since 2001 when he was “thoroughly humbled” by the housing and mortgage crisis.
“I had two small kids, a lot of fear and a vague vision for the brand I wanted to build,” he recalled. “I wanted to start an apparel company, but I had no idea how to do that.”
For Meador, carpentry, design and fixing things had always been a hobby, so he began there – starting Beach & Barn in 2009. But as he built up the carpentry business, he kept an eye on branding that would eventually transfer successfully to apparel.
Today, Beach & Barn is thriving and operating under the same name and logo as the initial business, just selling apparel instead of carpentry services.
Currently, Beach & Barn is sold in more than 120 retail stores, primarily in the Southeast. Local retail stores that carry the line include Redix, Dragonflies, Island Tackle & Hardware, Farmers Supply Co., 50 South Surf Shop in Surf City, Ocean Outfitters in Southport and Strands Outfitters in Oak Island. Co-owner Watson Barnes joined in 2016 and was instrumental in the business’s initial capital raise and making the full transition into apparel, Meador said.
In 2019, the company held a $230,000 friends-and-family raise, largely made up of investors that Meador’s local partner had long relationships with.
“Our apparel and distribution model is capital and inventory intensive, so that support was critical,” Meador said.
Beach & Barn recently moved into space in the renovated Bottle Works building, home to the former Coca-Cola bottling facility, in the Soda Pop District.
The company’s distribution center includes a small retail space in the front, and Meador said they are considering how to use that spot.
“The neighborhood has exceeded our expectations in terms of growth and attracting fun new restaurants and businesses, so we can’t wait to see how that develops,” he said. “Until then, our primary goal is growing the footprint of our dealer network and spreading the word about our great brand and this great town.”
Clearly Hooked Apparel
About 15 years ago, Margaret Eubank’s husband introduced her to fishing, and she’s been hooked ever since. She started to notice, however, a gap in female angler apparel as she browsed around shops.
After having the idea for nearly 10 years, she decided to finally take the leap a couple of years ago and start working toward starting her own apparel company for female anglers. In 2021, she officially launched Clearly Hooked Apparel to the world.
“The concept, it’s been something I want to do for probably 10 years,” she said. “There are just more and more women that are participating in the sport of fishing, but you continue to go into a tackle shop these days, and you kind of feel like they’re underrepresented or there’s not nearly as many options when it comes to jackets and sweatshirts or just apparel in general.”
Her debut collection included a rain jacket, sweatshirt and high-waisted leggings. Looking ahead, Eubank has received requests to add a youth collection, so she hopes to add merchandise focused on junior anglers in the future.
For now, Clearly Hooked Apparel is available at stores in and around the Cape Fear region and on her online store. In the future, she hopes to expand to more stores and connect with more female anglers.
“It’s always scary to start something new,” Eubank said. “I think I was driven and motivated by fellow women that had an idea and took that leap and were successful.”
Editor’s note: The section about Margaret Eubank is an excerpt from the current issue of WILMA magazine, a sister publication to WilmingtonBiz Magazine. To read the full article, go to WILMAmag.com.