It wouldn’t be incorrect to say I grew up on the water. And not only because my hometown of Duluth, Minnesota sits on a hill overlooking Lake Superior.
When I was little, my dad would take my brothers and me to Marine General, the local “one-stop store for boaters and anglers.”
After stocking up on bait and lures at Marine General, we would take to the water.
I spent my summers playing with worms, dissecting shiny, silver minnows and waiting for orange, plastic spheres to bob underwater. All in the name of fishing.
Our outfitter, Marine General is popular among the anglers and hunters of the Northland, known for its excellent customer service and employee’s extensive knowledge about local fishing and hunting grounds.
At Marine General’s About Us page, you can find the story behind the locally-owned business, started by Russell Francisco back in 1976. Today, Francisco, runs the store, which has expanded over the years, with his two daughters and son.
But Marine General needs to more actively share its story and interest in the outdoors to help maintain Minnesota’s heritage of fishing and hunting.
According to Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, fishing license purchases have declined from 40 percent of Minnesotans to 28 percent since the 1960s. Since the 1980s, hunting has decreased from 16 percent of Minnesotans to just 12 percent.
A file from the DNR reported, “people become hunters and anglers as part of a social process that involves multiple experiences over time, friends and family, and positive introductory experiences.”
Typically, it takes multiple hunting or fishing experiences with others before individuals feel confident they have acquired the skills to hunt or fish alone. From there, the hunter or angler has the potential to introduce someone else to the sport or engage someone who has lost interest.
Marine General has an active Facebook page, with regular Lakes Superior Fishing Reports, boating regulation reminders and other updates. Through advertisements and the business’s community presence, locals are familiar with Marine General’s tagline, “Get outdoor with us!”
But if Marine General used social media more extensively, it would help to engage a younger audience and encourage the social framework necessary to perpetuate these outdoor activities. Expanding its social media platform into Twitter, Instagram and YouTube would help younger individuals share their hunting or fishing experiences with others. A strong online presence would increase awareness of Marine General’s merchandise and expertise. Especially finding a way to share the employee’s expertise through a social media platform would help those interested find a place to start without feeling intimidated. Additionally, Marine General could help sponsor community programs that encourage people to get outdoors.
An effort to promote the outdoors won’t have an over-the-night impact. It will take time. But hopefully in a world dominated by social media, Marine General could use it to best maintain the community that it serves’ favorite past times and traditions.
Fewer anglers or hunters isn’t only a decline in profit margins for businesses invested in outdoor recreation, it’s a decline in heritage and quality of life.
Fewer fathers will take their daughters to the lake.
Fewer children will play with worms, dissect shiny, silver minnows and wait for orange, plastic spheres to bob underwater.
They won’t have the chance to create memories they wouldn’t give back for the world.
I know I won’t.