Top tackle shop closing down after nearly 50 years of trade

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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The Friendly Fisherman has been run by lure, trout and specimen fishing ace Andy Lush, and his wife Pat.

They are retiring and can’t get anybody to take over their shop in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

Andy, 64, said: “It has been a privilege to have the shop all these years but I’m taking my well-earned retirement.

“Sadly I can’t get anybody to take over the shop.

“The industry has changed a lot over the past 50 years but is probably going through its most radical period with online shopping coming to the fore.

“But I would like to thank all our customers over the years, many of whom have become close friends.

“I’m going to be able to do a bit more of my own fishing and continue to do the odd guiding day as well.

“We’re currently having a closing down sale and winding up the shop in the next week or two,” added The Friendly Fisherman boss.

The shop will be much missed by both its regular and occasional customers.

South East all-rounder Charlie Coppolo, who has impressed with his specimen catches seen in Angler’s Mail this year, said: “I only visited once but I was very impressed.

“A proper tackle shop with good useable stuff. And Andy was very obviously an incredibly knowledgeable angler. That’s something lost with these huge supermarket-style tackle shops nowadays.

“The closure of The Friendly Fisherman comes after two other tackle shops from the same part of the country closed down. Anglers Den at Gillingham and Biggin Hill Angling Centre, both in Kent, shut their doors for the last time. And others across the country are known to be on the brink.

Barry Reed, owner of the local Freshwater Informer magazine, said: “The region has lost a number of its long established tackle shops over the past couple of months.

“In the vast majority of cases, their owners are now taking their well deserved retirement and having the time to do a bit of fishing for themselves.

“Due to the number tackle shops we are losing, this must be a wake up call to everyone that if the local independent shops are not used, we will sadly see more disappear.

“Please support your local tackle shop. When they are gone, they are gone,” added Barry.

The last Angling Trades Association figures for the number of tackle shop numbers showed a decline.

Numbers of trading shops was down from 2,472  to 2,300, from 2011 to 2016.

The next survey is due in 2021 but that could see the figure drop well below 2,000 premises.

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