For the last 47 years, Bill Offutt Jr. has stood behind the counter at Fox’s Sport and Bait Store. But you won’t see him here much longer.
“It just comes to the point that, being [77-year-old,] it’s time to retire,” said store owner Bill Offutt Jr.
Offutt has run the store since 1971. He recalls that Frederick County at the time had more farm land and it encouraged hunting and fishing throughout. His business catered to this abundant community of fisherman and huntsmen for decades.
“[The store] actually was developed as a one shopping place to go. They could pick up their beer, wine. They could pick up their bait, they could pick up the supplies they needed,” said Offutt.
But in past years, Offutt has taken notice to changes in the community, like the fewer and fewer young people walking through the store, and newly built businesses.
“Other sporting shops have come in and they are actually into physical running sports, marathons. The kids went into texting, tweeting, and electronic games. They no longer understand, from grandfather, to father, to son, where you actually go hunting and fishing,” Offutt expressed.
City officials admit that the landscape of downtown Frederick storefronts is changing.
“As we’ve brought in new stores, and boutiques stores, and fashion and things like that, places like Fox’s are kind of reminiscent of what it used to be like downtown,” explained director for economic development for the City of Frederick, Richard Griffin.
Offutt had wished to sell the property to someone looking to carry on the bait and outdoor supply business, but it doesn’t seem likely. And caring for his daughter, Lauralea, through her battle with cancer has taken over as his top priority.
“There is a point that when you can’t find anybody else to take over and do the same, what can you do? I have to just retire,” Offutt said.
Offutt says the property is currently under contract. He will close his doors by the end of November.