After another round of outstanding applications, we’re pleased to announce that CJ’s Bait and Tackle is the winner of Nav’s second $10,000 small business grant. Based out of the city of Pascagoula on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, owner Chris Jones saw a need for a bait and tackle shop in the area. His mobile, solar-powered shop will continue to serve the community with the help of the well-deserved $10,000.
“We couldn’t be more proud of the Jones family,” said Ryan Frederic Pascagoula’s City Manager and City Attorney. “When I first heard Chris’ plan, for a mobile bait shop, I knew that one of our city’s waterfront fishing spots would be a perfect fit. Pascagoula’s Beach Park, with the city Pier right across the street, was ideal and they have been very successful there in a short time.”
“Pascagoula loves small businesses. We’ve attracted some now-famous entrepreneurs, and I have no doubt that CJ’s Bait & Tackle is another one of those Pascagoula-born companies that will create a big buzz on the Gulf Coast and beyond. What a great concept – a mobile bait and tackle shop!” said Mayor Dane Maxwell. “We’re a city that loves our waterways and fishing – and I’m proud we could help them launch this business right here, at our beautiful Beach Park and Nav is providing the capital for them to grow this business.”
Chris’ innovative thinking in addressing a need in the community as well as his focus on learning from the past and being prepared highlighted his submission and caught our attention. Here are more details on his journey and how he runs his small business.
When did you start your company?
We started the company in June 2018 though we’d been working on different parts of the business since February/March 2018. Being mobile, our base in at our home in Pascagoula, Mississippi but we have received approval from our city and currently do business at Pascagoula Beach Park.
Why did you start the company?
We started the company as a way to be self-reliant and to teach my sons how to be independent. The idea was one that my father-in-law had come up with and wanted to make happen but wasn’t able to before he passed away a few years ago. This is about family, bringing value by spending time together.
What makes your business unique/different?
We’re the only tiny, solar business on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we are answering a need that has been in our community for years for a bait shop along our coastline. The thing we love the most about owning our own business is the camaraderie we are building in our community, the self-reliance gained and honestly having an office with a beach view doesn’t hurt.
How did you get the money to start the company?
Honestly, we have scrimped and saved funds and bartered to implement each and every phase of bringing this together. We are a debt free company. We have not used any type of financing. We’ve used our own money and bartered to pull together everything.
How will you be using the prize money from Nav?
We’re going to use the grant money in each and every aspect of the business. We’re going to be beefing up our advertising and outreach, adding to our solar setup for better and stronger performance, investing in an ice machine so that we can make and store our own ice and no longer have to pay out money for this expense, making renovations and adjustments to the trailer to add custom coolers and the remainder will be used for inventory, upkeep and capital for the business.
How do you manage cash flow in the company?
As of right now we set aside earmarked money daily to cover each bill and overhead and to restock inventory as needed. Any profit is left in the account but we will be purchasing a computer for the business with the programming to allow us to use a barcode system and will keep up with our accounts and inventory.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the company?
Right now our biggest challenge is getting our name out there to more people. Currently, our biggest challenge is capital, mainly for advertising.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the company? T
The most rewarding thing about running this business has been the time it allows me to spend with my family and visiting with my customers, especially when they have just caught a huge fish. We love taking pictures of them with their catches and posting them on our Facebook wall.
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting the company?
Our biggest mistake was underestimating the amount of money I would need for working capital and thinking that we could get by without an ice machine of our own.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were first starting out?
The smartest thing I did was going tiny, mobile and solar. We’re in Hurricane country so if we’re threatened with a storm we can pack up and move the entire setup to somewhere safe.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
My advice is to save your money and be as debt free as possible and don’t give up, keep pushing and believe in yourself and your idea. Whatever you do you can’t get discouraged.
What’s next for your business?
Next we’re going to implement new equipment and offer inventory we’ve had our customers requesting but we’re also going to help spread the word and be a voice about the benefits of going tiny and mobile and we’re hoping that within the next 5 years we will be in a position to have at least 2 more trailers running and expanding from there.