A New Business Model

Grand Marais Business

January 9, 2017

Christina|Lake Time Magazine

Why open a shop in Grand Marais?

My family and I moved to Grand Marais over 14 years ago to be closer to the things we love - paddling, climbing, fishing, everything outdoors. Fly Box & Company is the product of my love for the sport of fly fishing, the outdoors, and my entrepreneurial spirit. I've been fly fishing for 25 years and I wanted to be able to share my passion. Fly Box & Company has experienced guides that can teach fly casting to anyone who wants to learn. It's a great way to experience our surroundings and environment in a new way.


Fly Box & Company has much to offer the Grand Marais community. Yes, we are a fly shop with fishing gear and outdoor apparel, but our primary focus is promoting the North Shore and the fly fishing opportunities here. We have 200 tributaries and 117 stream trout lakes. In the shop, we carry heritage brands like Patagonia and Orvis, as well as some great new companies like Topo Designs and Poler. 


I'll be participating in kids fishing programs sponsored by the DNR next year, which I am looking forward to. This will be a great way to get local kids interested in fishing, and a fun way for me to give back to the community. I will also work with local chapters of Trout Unlimited preserving, protecting, and restoring local watershed.


How did the shipping container model come to be?

Starting a business takes a lot of hard work. I did quite a bit of my own research, and then connected with a local business advisor through the Entrepreneur Fund. I was trying to find a creative way to crack the high prices of real estate or renovating a building, and I also still needed to fill my store with inventory. The costs were adding up quickly. After visiting Topo Designs shop in Colorado, I fell in love with their business model and knew I wanted to utilize a shipping container as my storefront in Grand Marais. 

Has the container model been successful?

Yes, absolutely. Once I started researching, I knew it was going to work really well in Grand Marais. It is actually a perfect solution. I was able to build out the container with beautiful reclaimed barn wood and it has become a really comfortable space and works for our seasonal market. 


The business community has been really supportive of Fly Box & Company and customers have responded well to the shipping container storefront. People have been curious, so it's brought a lot of traffic through the door. I wholeheartedly recommend the shipping container model, and I am very interested in helping others explore their business passions within this type of space. Whether it's a hair salon, a retail store, or a sandwich shop, the opportunities are endless. Shipping containers can help people get their small businesses off the ground in an economical way.


What do your typical customers look like?

We have a wide range of customers, but over the summer nearly all of my customers were visitors from the Twin Cities area. Men, women, kids, adults, old and young. Some were visiting Grand Marais for the first time and others had been coming here for years. People were excited to see a new and unique business pop up downtown. Many came in to check out our container space and gear, and lots jumped on the opportunity to learn to fly fish - especially when I explained how easy it can be.


How do your guided tours work?

We offer fly fishing experiences on inland lakes and tributaries from April through October, and are usually fishing for trout. A guide will take one to three people to inland lakes with fly rods on our pontoon kick boats for half-day or full-day trips. We also offer a two-hour introduction to Tenkara, which is a simple and effective style of fly fishing that anybody can learn. This is great for families with kids, or anyone inexperienced who wants to learn. With the Tenkara style, people are casting on their own within 30 minutes. Everyone has a great time, especially if they have never experienced fly fishing before.


How will you keep busy over the winter months?

I'll be busy, that's for sure. The shop will be open on weekends through the holidays, but with less foot traffic in Grand Marais, we don't plan to be open during the week. I will be adding new shoulder-season guide opportunities like grouse hunts and destination fishing trips. Fly shops from all over the United States - and the world - collaborate on destination trips; there are some really cool opportunities out there. Destination travel trips are great because you get to see other places, and they also offer truly different fishing experiences for people in places like the West Coast, South America, and Cuba, for example.


I have been a presenter for a long time, so I'll be promoting our region across the country in the off-season through presentations to fly groups and Trout Unlimited groups. I'll also be attending trade shows in Minneapolis and Denver. 

Contact Scott Sorensen at Fly Box & Company  |  14 1st Avenue West, Grand Marais, MN   |  218-370-9659