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Fish Out of Water: Gus's Discount Tackle

Gus’s Discount Tackle is a fishing equipment store on the corner of Balboa street and 38th in the Richmond district. Sandwiched in between two large dull-paletted apartment buildings, the store is a fish out of water with its two-tone, light-blue exterior. In parallel, Gus’s Discount Fishing Tackle is much more than a place that sells rods, reels and bait. Similar to an old timey general store where locals would pop in for a quick chat, Gus’s has managed to develop a close knit community, all because of owner Stephanie “Steph” Ernst-Scott.

Ernst-Scott is a whirlwind of positivity and always eager for a chat. She’s equal parts warm and welcoming, and equal parts jovial and veracious.

“What you see is what you get. I think I’m nuts. Nuts. I talk too much. I just love what I’m doing and I’m happy here. I’m good to people and I’m honest,” Ernst-Scott said.

Ernst-Scott was born and raised in the Richmond district. Deciding to keep the theme local, she studied English and communications at San Francisco State University. After graduating from her higher education, Ernst-Scott started working at her father’s store and soon took over with help from her late husband. She quickly inherited the store from her father, Gus, a first generation immigrant from Austria who originally set out to open a general store 62 years ago.,

“When it first started, the demand was 10% fishing equipment,” said Ernst-Scott. “The customers would say ‘we want more of that.’ I listened to the customers and over time it evolved into what it is by demand.”

After that demand shift, Ernst-Scott had to sharpen her expertise of fishing auxiliaries. She gives all her customers the same two things, respect and good advice, which she prides herself on.

“The customer base I have is very knowledgeable. I’m not going to tell them anything that's BS because they will know it right away, so I better know what I’m talking about. It's already very difficult to establish credibility as a short little woman and I’ve got commercial guys asking me my opinion. So if I don't say something that has veracity to it, it’ll go downhill pretty quick,” said Ernst-Scott.

The first thing you notice when entering the store, is the armada of customer photos—photos of people from all walks of life. There are wedding photos taken at Gus’s Discount Tackle, photos of new born babies, and photos of fishermen: novice to expert, holding their prized catches. Ernst-Scott has managed to build quite the spectrum of a community.

“I have everybody coming in here. There is not a language not spoken here, there is not an ethnicity or religious group that does not come here,” said Ernst-Scott. “The gender is pretty specifically male, but I have people from every country and everyone shares one thing in common, fishing. Fishermen are very good together.”

-Brian Lee

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