Wednesday, November 9, 2011

52 Trade Houses Part 32: Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods of Memphis, TN

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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!

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Trade House Tackle, Part 32:

Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods of Memphis, TN

Today we feature a really cool story about a sporting goods company that was founded before the Great Depression and is still in business today. It's the tale of Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods of Memphis, Tennessee, and with so many tales of sorrow and woe concerning the many companies we've covered in 52 for 52, it is very nice to tell a story that is still infolding before us.

The company was founded in 1926 by Tommy Bronson--a high school student of all things--at 47 North Waldran in Memphis, Tennessee. One of the many fascinating things about this is that the firm only moved once -- in 1971 as a result of eminent domain -- to 1672 Union Avenue.

Tommy Bronson (from the company web site).

Up until 1939, Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods sold tennis goods exclusively, reflecting the fact that he was integral to the local tennis community (he ran tennis leagues and tournaments in Memphis for 30 years). He eventually supplied equipment for the U.S. Davis Cup team.

The original Tommy Bronson store (from the company web site).

After World War II, Tommy Bronson expanded into fishing and hunting. Eventually, they carried a full line of both, and became a really important cog in the local outdoor community. As the Insiders' Guide to Memphis (1998) wrote, for any information on fishing and hunting, "One good bet is to contact the knowledgable staff at the local hunting store Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods for a recommendation."

The old Tommy Bronson sign (from the company web site).

Tommy Bronson (which should not be confused with the 1950s University of Tennessee fullback of the same name--a happy coincidence for sure) carried at least some branded fishing tackle. One of my very favorite 1950s plastic line spools is one branded for the store. It hawks "Five Star" brand nylon casting line. It's a very rare spool.

Bronson Line Spool ca. 1955.

I imagine there is other marked Tommy Bronson fishing tackle out there, but if it is around, its really, really rare. Keep your out for any marked pieces!

I love the fact that I can write, for more information about Tommy Bronson Sporting Goods, go to their comprehensive web site by Clicking Here. They have a great history site!

-- Dr. Todd

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