Fishing enthusiasts can now ‘catch’ everything they need for their hobby under one roof after a specialist store opened.
Angling Direct – which has taken up a unit on the former BQ site in Hanley – has also created six jobs, with staff experiencing an extremely busy first week as shoppers streamed through the doors.
It is the national firm’s 21st branch and bosses are looking to tap into the area’s love of fishing courtesy of the various canals, rivers and lakes across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire.
Enthusiasts have been quick to sing the praises of the new store, which stocks a huge range of rods, bait, hooks, clothing, along with bivvys and sleeping bags for those looking to go all the way through the night.
Manager Matt Blythe says the Leek Road store has been extremely busy since opening on January 27. The 29-year-old, from Winterley, near Sandbach , said: “It must be one of the best openings the company has done and it was just overwhelming. We have also received some really positive feedback about the shop, layout and stock.
“When I was a ten-year-old, you wouldn’t fill a shop, but the suppliers have created a real buzz with what they have. These days, people will watch some videos on YouTube and come here knowing exactly what they want.”
The store, which sits next to the recently opened Winstanleys Pramworld, stocks brands including Shimano, Fox, Korda along with scores of others.
For Matt, being manager of a store specialising in fishing is something of a dream come true. He said: “My uncle started taking me and it went from there. When I got to about seven, a group of us would go out and fish.
“I had been running pubs, but was still going out fishing for that peace and quiet. When I saw this job come up, I had to go for it as it’s a lifestyle.”
He loves the sport so much that Matt got married to wife Zoe just 25 yards from where he fishes at Tabley Moat, near Knutsford. Matt said: “I enjoy the solitude of fishing.
“We want to be part of the community here and will look to work with schools to do training sessions and things like that.”
Among the new recruits is Ryan Brereton, who has been fishing across Europe. The 24-year-old, from Kidsgrove , a sales assistant at the store, said: “I first started fishing when I was three as all my family are into it. I mainly do carp fishing now. It’s great as it gets you outdoors into nature.”
Ryan, whose biggest catch weighed in at 52lbs, added: “The fishing market is massive and it’s great to be working here.”
Customers visiting the new branch have also been impressed with the wide variety of stock. Chris Watson, aged 38, from Milehouse, said: “Fishing is really addictive and I started when I was at school.
“This seems a really good shop, with plenty of choice.”
Darren Bailey, Angling Direct’s chief executive officer, added: “The Stoke-on-Trent store is a great strategic opening, given the large angling community and its accessibility.”