Established in 1954 by Elmo and Mary Anne Wilcox with the premise that hard work, competitive pricing, and excellent customer service were the ingredients to a successful business model, Wilcox Bait and Tackle in Newport News, VA evolved into the one stop shop for all your hunting and fishing needs.
The current business, known not only in Tidewater but also up and down the east coast, had a surpisingly humble beginning. After Elmo was laid off from the shipyard, Elmo and Mary Anne cashed in their life insurance policies valued at $400 each to purchase a family corner grocery store. Business was hard. Many of their customers couldn't pay and Elmo and Mary Anne extended credit. But this didn't help them pay their bills.
Soon after, though, a wholesaler from Richmond would change their lives. He pulled up in a white van loaded down with fishing supplies. Elmo expressed interest but said he just didn't have the money to invest. The wholesaler offered to let them have $50 worth of supplies, and he said he'd come back next week to get the money for it. Amongst their first fishing inventory were hooks, floats, fishing lines, corks, and cane poles. Elmo said, "I bought those cane poles for 9 cents a piece and was able to sell them for 19 cents a piece which was cheaper than all of our competition!"
Soon after, Elmo asked another gentleman if he could dig in his manure pile for worms. When the gentleman asked, "What in the world FOR?" Elmo confessed he wanted to sell them to support his new wife and new baby boy! The gentleman said that any man who was desperate enough to dig in a pile of manure for his family certainly deserved any money made from those worms! Next, Elmo and a friend, Albert Slade, began fishing for minnows in New Market creek and a minnow tank was added to the corner store.
The fishing business became more popular and with that popularity came other traveling salespersons with bigger loaning power. Their store credit went from $50 a week to $10,000 a month and the little grocery store changed locations to the current location at Center Avenue & Jefferson. The 2'x'4' fishing tackle display was now converted into an entire floor with an expanded line including not just bait and tackle, but also guns, hunting supplies, canoes, and now, one of the most expansive archery lines available anywhere.
Today, the torch has been passed on to their son, Tom Wilcox who eats, sleeps and breathes hunting and fishing. He has an incredible wealth of knowledge. Not only did Tom inherit this major role in the family business but he also inherited the work ethic that went along with it. People travel for miles to have Tom work on and service their archery equipment or set them up with the proper gear to catch that prized fish! Tom loves what he sells and customers love the hands on attention Tom gives when they make their first hunting or fishing purchase. Tom's forte and biggest interest is definitely in the archery line and his knowledge is unsurpassed by anyone in the region. In addition, Tom is an authorized dealer and service center for most archery manufacturers such as Mathews, Mission, Hoyt, Bowtech and many more!