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Bait Station dedicated to grandson’s memory

August 29, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

It was the dream of Richard Garland's grandson, Kyle, to open a bait shop.

Sadly, Kyle did not live to see that dream come true. He died before the shop opened, leaving the future of the store in doubt before it even began.

However, the Bait Station, at 104 Pondella Road, opened two years ago, and business has remained strong, thanks to Richard, who has poured effort into the endeavor in memory of his grandson and his grandson's dream.

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Richard and Carol Garland, owners of the Bait Station, 104 Pondella Road, outside by the mural painted on the side of the building.


Garland, whose family owns the business, said Kyle had struggled with addiction in his hometown in Michigan.

In July 2016, the Garlands became Kyle's conservator and brought him to Southwest Florida. He went to Salus Care in Fort Myers but, due to depth of his issues and his young age, they would not put him in inpatient.

Kyle did, however, clean up his act, even helping fellow teens try to kick the habit. As he was doing so, he told his grandfather, "I want to have a bait shop. I want to be a guide," as he had fished every day in Michigan, even in the winter when the lakes froze.

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"I had a small bait shop for a few years and it was time to start something bigger. My grandson wanted a bait shop," Garland said. "I let him come up with a couple of locations and names and came up with the Bait Station and this location."

The Bait Station was set to open in November 2016. However a family member who also had addiction issues convinced Kyle to come to Michigan to see him for a few days.

Kyle went and died as a result of an overdose.

The Garlans then decided to open The Bait Station in December 2016 with the intent on making it an inexpensive store.

A health issue of his own then intruded: Richard learned he had metastatic skin cancer, which means it will never go away and can spread to the other organs.

The main sign is energy depletion. That's a reminder for him to get it taken care of, which he has done for more than three years.

"As long as he keeps it in the skin and he gets to it fast enough it's good, but at some point it will spread and get his organs," said co-owner and wife Carol Garland. "So far, he's been able to keep it under wraps."

He got Annabel Brewster, a North Fort Myers High School student, to paint a mural on the side of the building and on the store's floor, giving the store a gorgeous nautical theme.

To succeed, the Garlands used old-fashioned customer service to bring in and keep clients, many of whom knew Kyle.

"It's North Fort Myers and we treat everybody the same. Many of our clients knew Kyle, so we have people from all walks of life," Garland said. "We've been known to give away rods, reels and bait when we find out they literally eat what they catch."

Much of the equipment is mid-level, not too expensive, but still durable. The result has been a growing clientele that donates because they know the story and want the store to give equipment to those who need it.

They also have kayaks made for fishing that run from $495 to about a grand. They are an authorized Vibe kayak dealer, among the most popular in the country.

But the name says bait and they have the best in town. Shiners, which they say is the best anywhere, and shrimp up to jumbos.

"We carry shrimp, most of which is the largest in the county. We have fiddler crabs, pinfish, fresh water shiners and minnows and worms," said Carol Garland. "People love the shiners in the fresh and brackish water. They call them bass candy."

Their work has resulted in them winning the Best of North Fort Myers for best bait station in 2018.

"We have fantastic service. We are friendly and try to please everyone. Our bait is good and clean," Carol said. "We do rod and reel repair and just thrilled to be here."

They also do a lot of work with kids and get them into fishing as a way to give back, including perhaps giving them things as a way to give them a kickstart.

The Bait Station also has a smaller location on Fort Myers Beach and is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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