The four mounted stuffed bucks' heads watching over Fishtech’s longtime store at 5802 Dempster might shudder if they were alive and knew what was going on behind them.
In a 20-yard corridor along the store’s west wall is an archery practice range with a classic bulls-eye. Bows and arrows are the newest addition to FishTech's traditional hook, line and sinker inventory that has been a staple in its incarnation, as well as predecessor store Ed Shirley Sports, for four decades.
Archery has gotten downright trendy
If you watch TV, you know archery is in vogue. Two weekly post-apocalyptic shows already feature actors using bows and arrows regularly – splitting zombies’ skulls on “The Walking Dead” on AMC and substituting for banned firearms on “Revolution” on NBC. The movie “Hunger Games” also was full of bows and arrows. And a number of celebrities, including Chicago pro athletes, have been bow hunters for decades.
“We’re getting a lot of parents and kids coming in just shooting for fun,” said Fishtech manager Sean Kimura, who grew up patronizing the store as a lifelong Morton Grove resident. “People are seeing the (archery) signs and coming in to ask questions. By next fall, we should have a much larger supply.”
$5 to shoot arrows for half an hour
Fishtech began its archery section in August. The store stocks the Forge Bow Company products. Costing $5 apiece are bow rentals and a half-hour of shooting time in the corridor. Arrow cutting is available.
Archery is the latest wrinkle put in by Fishtech co-owners Jim Gillen and Jim Templin since they bought the business from a retiring Ed Shirley in the spring of 2007 after serving as his store managers.
Sean Kimura has worked under both managements for a decade, after coming into the store to buy fishing accessories with father Stanley and grandfather Tad Kimura.
“It started as a summertime job in high school (Niles West) and I just stayed here,” said Kimura.
Internet sales a competitor
He’s seen the business evolve, with archery the latest change. Management has desired a new trend to the offerings, partially to make up for lost business, with high-end rods and reels now sold more frequently online.
“Our prices are comparable to the big-box stores,” Kimura said. “There are some internet sites and E-bay that will sell below.”
With fishing stores in most Illinois communities north of here, FishTech depends on local regular customers. In addition to Lake Michigan, they fish in the nearby Skokie Lagoons and Beck Lake near the Tri-State Tollway along with the Chain O’ Lakes in McHenry County and other area small bodies of water.
Fishing not bad this time of year
Although Kimura is enduring the store’s slow season, regular fishing does take place in late autumn. Thus, the store opens at 6 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays for the “weekend warriors,” of which Kimura classified himself as an angler.
“They’re still going after either salmon or trout on Lake Michigan, and lake perch will come back at about this time,” Kimura said. “Just before first ice is pretty good (on smaller lakes).”
Ice fishing season to come
The store will get a bump for ice-fishing season on the smaller area lakes – if the weather cooperates. It never did in the winter-that-almost-wasn’t earlier this year.
Fishtech will be busy after New Year’s if the ice is thick enough, to go along with working the annual fishing sports shows in January and February. FisthTech also sells Illinois and Wisconsin hunting licenses.
Templin, a bass fisherman, also runs “Jimmy T’s Guide Service” for fishing outings on lakes in the two states. He can be reached at (847) 331-7537.