Located at 166 Charlestown Beach Road, the store was previously owned by Ronald Mouchon, a fishing charter boat captain, and his wife, Karleen, from 1993 to 2016. Captain Ron, as he was known, died unexpectedly on July 5, 2015. After his death, Karleen Mouchon ran the shop until selling it to Hess last December.
As a 35-year customer of the shop, Hess knows he has large waders to fill.
“My family had a place down on the beach here for 25 years and we sold that in 2006 and I’ve been renting places every summer since then,” he said. “This place is a hub, it’s iconic in the community — I’m meeting so many people, charter captains to commercial fisherman to really avid, local recreational fishermen, guys in boats, surfcasters, visitors and tourists.”
Because he wanted customers to have a feeling of continuity, Hess has kept the same name, phone number and look to the place, but he’s also using modern methods to attract business, like social media and technology. “We’re also adding more state-of-the-art fishing apparel and gloves and new lines of lures,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for the old standby stuff, but why not try some a few new things, so we’re trying a combination of enhancements.”
The local fishing community is very tight-knit and has been welcoming and helpful, he said.
“They come and congregate here — sometimes I think it’s the clubhouse for the fishing crew. It really is a fun business from that standpoint,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be a part of that and to give some continuity to the community.”
After a long career as a corporate IT systems engineer, Hess said he wasn’t intending to reinvent himself, but when the opportunity to buy the shop appeared, he realized it was a way to combine the place he loved with his favorite hobby.
“We love Charlestown and this area and I wasn’t looking to do this but it kind of came along, but when I took a closer look, the better it looked,” he said. “I look at it almost as a garden — perhaps I can make this thing blossom a little more, give it some care and attention and make it great.”
Having moved to the house on the shop’s property, Hess, who had been living in New Hartford, Conn., said his four grown children were thrilled he had relocated to Charlestown.
“All my kids grew up going to the beach here, and it’s a lifestyle change for me to be here permanently,” he said.
It’s not as quiet as the family’s old cottage on the beach, he said, but every day he’s expanding his knowledge about fishing.
“You can be standing here and 10 minutes from now eight guys could be in here talking about what’s happening in the fishing grounds out there,” he said. “It’s kind of neat — it’s an information hub, so I’m learning a lot.”
Beginning on Memorial Day, Breachway Bait & Tackle will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 401-364-6407.