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New bait shop takes old-fashioned approach



Finn’s Tackle owner Jayson Karst and daughter Cecilia enjoy a day on the lake. SUBMITTED

At a time when mom-and-pop bait shops are fading away, a Mt. Juliet mom and pop have opened a new one.

Jayson and Christy Karst, both retired Army veterans, recently opened Finn’s Tackle Shop in the Bell Road shopping mall where Starkey’s Baits operated for decades.

Starkey’s closed two years ago, along with Nort’s, Hunt’s, Poindexters and Flippers, with Friedmans to follow in June. Like many other family-owned bait and tackle shops, they were unable to compete with giant national outdoors outlets.

But Jayson insists bigger isn’t necessarily better, and says his shop has some advantages over the big guys.

“There’s a void we can fill,” he said. “For example, if you need a bucket of minnows at 5 a.m., try getting them at one of those stores. And if you’re leaving on a trip and need bait or other items earlier, call me in advance and I’ll be waiting for you whenever you want to pick them up. You can’t get that personal touch at the big stores.”

Finn’s (an old Karst family name) currently has a “soft opening” underway and will hold its big grand opening Feb. 16-18. The store is open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will open at 5 a.m. when the weather warms.

Karst says Finn’s will have a down-home atmosphere.

“We’ll have free coffee and cookies, and tables where you can sit and swap fishing stories,” he says. “We’ll be involved in the community with activities like lake cleanups and kids fishing events.”

Jayson, who grew up in a small town in North Dakota, relocated to Tennessee after serving 24 years in the Army. Christy served 21. They have three daughters.

Since retiring, they have worked with homeless vets and other VA programs.

“It’s a special cause for us,” says Karst, whose store gives 10% discounts to active and retired military personnel and first responders.

Finn’s will carry crappie minnows and shiners – which are getting hard to come by – along with night crawlers, red wigglers, meal worms, crickets, frozen skipjack and commercial catfish baits.

Tackle ranges from heavy hybrid outfits to ultra-light crappie rigs, along with a full stock of lines, lures, hooks, bobbers, sinkers and other accessories.

“If you need something we don’t have, we’ll get it,” Karst says.

Finn’s will eventually sell fishing licenses when the vendor paperwork is processed, along with caps, t-shirts, drinks and snacks.

“I’m a fisherman, and I know what fishermen want,” Karst said. “We’ll get you taken care of and out on the water. You can come back later and show us what you caught.”