Skip to main content

Young teen enters bait business

The East Boston boy gives up a trip to Disney World to keep the business going all summer

The East Boston boy gives up a trip to Disney World to keep the business going all summer

Eric Gately, a seasonal employee at Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in East Boston, noticed last year that recreational fishermen had few places to go on the harbor for supplies. So the young entrepreneur started hawking bait at the shipyard’s fuel dock.

The business proved so successful, this year Eric opened a shop in the yard. He is investing $3,000 in the part-time endeavor, which he named “Eric’s Bait Shop.” He is also giving up a family trip to Florida this summer.

While businesses spring up every day, few are founded by someone as young as the 13-year-old.

“I didn’t want to go to summer camp last year so I decided to keep myself busy at the yard,” explains Eric.

That’s when the avid fisherman got his brainstorm about the bait shop. His mother, Pat, the marina manager, says she was surprised — and pleased — last year when young Eric asked if he could use the family’s extra freezer to store his bait. She was prouder still this year when he announced he was expanding the business.

Young Eric interviewed other bait shop owners to learn the key to success in the business. Their advice was, “Don’t take vacations in the summertime,” so Eric is passing on the trip to Disney World with relatives.

Eric renovated a shed in the yard to stock with lures, hooks, weights, fishing poles, and live and frozen bait.

He says his shop is one of the few places on the waterfront where fishermen can stock up on supplies. Otherwise, mariners have to head to nearby Everett, Mass.

Thanks to improvements to water quality in the harbor, recreational fishing is thriving. Popular local fish include cod, stripers and flounder.

Eric, who in the fall will be in eighth grade at John T. Nichols Middle School in Middleborough, Mass., plans to open the shop weekdays 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., and Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon. The rest of the day he will help out in the yard in exchange for use of the shed, he says. With the help of his parents, he will stock up on his shop supplies a few times a week.

In addition to fishing, Eric enjoys football and archery. His favorite subjects in school are science and social studies. He says he’s leaning toward a career in construction.