Over the course of the next year, we'll be detailing the history of 52 companies that sold branded fishing tackle. 52 trade houses in 52 weeks -- some obscure, some famous, and all available exclusively here on the Fishing for History Blog! If you have any items from the week's entry you'd like to share with us, please send it my way and I'll make sure it makes it on the blog.
For a discussion of what exactly trade tackle is, Click Here. Enjoy the 52 for 52!
We don't get very much trade tackle from the American Southwest, so when we do find a piece of tackle branded by a firm in this region, it is extra special.
In this case, the company in question -- Yellow Front Stores -- was quite a fixture in Arizona and the surrounding area from the 1950s through the 1980s. Founded in Phoenix in the early 1950s by Jake Henegar, the first Yellow Front Store was actually an army surplus outlet.
Henegar was an adroit salesman and eventually turned this one military surplus outlet into a series of discount stores that eventually spread all across the Southwest. Yellow Front Stores expanded their stock in the late 1950s to include outdoor gear ranging from camping gear to fishing tackle and began to offer everything from housewares to clothing.
By the 1970s, Yellow Front Stores were prominent newspaper, television and radio advertisers, and had become so profitable that eventually there were 109 stores in seven states.
They sold a lot of fishing tackle, but the vast majority of it was name brand tackle such as Zebco reels and St. Croix rods. However, they did brand some fishing tackle with the Yellow Front Store name. Here's an example of a 1960s Snelled Hook Packet sold under the "Arizona Sportsman" brand. Note that at the time this packet was sold, the firm had fifteen stores in Arizona.
It has not been determined if other kinds of tackle were sold under this name, but it can be assumed that fishing line, hooks, and sinkers were similar branded.
The company became a victim of 1980s corporate greed. Henegar presided over the company until his death in the early 1980s, when the company was sold to Lucky Stores. In 1987, Lucky sold the 104 Yellow Front Stores for $50 million to Kenmare in an effort to avoid a hostile take over by corporate raider Asher B. Eshelman. In 1990, the company went bankrupt and the Yellow Front Stores were closed.
Yellow Front Stores and their Arizona Brand of fishing tackle are neat collectables and rare examples of Southwestern trade tackle.
-- Dr. Todd