Nearly 60 Years in Business!
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago there was a man named Joe Habel. It all started at a gas station a half mile down the road, where he began selling bait and bucktails to fisherman headed to the Bay. Being the visionary that he was, he purchased our location in the early 60’s and proceeded to build the initial structure by hand with all of his friends.
Rumor has it that he and his buddies placed an empty beer can in every cinder block they laid. At the time, it was the local hunting and fishing store, post office, convenience store (before 7-11’s) and local gathering spot.
Over the years, Joe took on partners to help him with the business, including Bob Dietz, John Ebersberger & son Charlie Ebersberger.
With knowledgeable people and a great location Anglers thrived while serving both hunters (both waterfowl and deer) and fisherman (specializing in Bay and Offshore). The shops early and late hours made it perfect for servicing local outdoorsmen. The neon sign, just off of Route 50, is now a landmark in the Annapolis area.
In 1980, the business expanded to its current size, adding a warehouse and extra retail space to better serve its customers. Anglers was then able to offer a wider selection of the latest and greatest supplies for its fishermen and hunter customer base.
Sadly, Joe and Bob have gone to the Happy Hunting Ground; but the spirit of what they began is still alive and well. Anglers now provides a great selection, knowledgeable staff, and flexible hours to accommodate the needs of all outdoorsmen.
Charlie is an owner, he’s not an office guy, he’s on the floor helping customers. His son Mike, is following in his footsteps. Both avid fishermen and hunters, they share our passion for the great outdoors.
A successful business, almost 60 years in the running, means we’re doing something right. Come by and see for yourself! Whether you are buying or just browsing, it is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
In The News
Our Bay: Anglers Sport Center celebrates 50 years
Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2011 12:00 am
By TIM CAMPBELL, For The Capital
From its auspicious beginning as a combination gas station, general store, post office and tackle shop to a renowned sporting goods store, Anglers Sport Center has been a long-time fixture to the local community and for travelers on their way to Sandy Point State Park and the Eastern Shore. I recently sat down with Charlie Ebersberger in his office above the store to discuss the history of Anglers. His desk was cluttered with paperwork, and as we talked, Charlie peered down onto the main floor, anxious to keep an eye on the activity.
When Sandy Point State Park opened in June 1952 and with the first span of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opening a month later, Joe Habel had a vision. He recognized there would be a need for bait, tackle, and assorted sundries. The original owner, Habel started the business as a gas station, sporting goods, and small grocery store. In the early years, he sold everything from fishing tackle and sporting goods to basic groceries, camping trailers, and RVs. There was even a small post office in the store then, complete with a classic metal bar postmaster’s window.
In 1961, Anglers Sporting Goods, as it was then called, became incorporated. It was located on Revell Highway now Whitehall Road, a service road which parallels Route 50. People never could simply pull off Route 50 to get to the store and still can’t. There was a traffic light nearby at one time, but it was removed due to congestion. Even with an inconvenient turn, business was and still is good. Location, location, location applies as the tired but true cliche.
The current cinder-block structure was essentially built by Habel and his friends in 1965. By then, he gave up the gas station and simply sold bait, ice, sporting goods and grocery items. Before convenience stores become so commonplace, and prior to the development of the big box stores, Anglers was regarded as the largest fishing and hunting store in the state.
Around late 1977, Habel decided to retire in Western Maryland and sold the business to local attorneys John Ebersberger and partner Bob Deitz. In 1976, Ebersberger’s son, Charlie, 20 at the time, had already begun working for Habel at the store. By his own admission, Charlie was obsessed with fishing and hunting. While pursuing his passion for the outdoors, Charlie enjoyed helping people learn about fishing and hunting. Happy merely to be around guns and tackle, Charlie did it all from bagging ice and bait to sweeping the floor and waiting on customers. How many folks are blessed to work their entire lives in a career they really love?
As a teenager, Charlie gained valuable experience working as a mate for his father, a charter boat captain out of Ocean City. Charlie also spent as much time as he could in the woods to hone his outdoor skills. To this day, Charlie’s first love is offshore fishing, although deer and duck hunting is a close second.
After a short time, Habel determined retirement wasn’t for him, so he bought back into the store and worked part-time. Sometimes after a long day, Habel would sleep in a pop-up trailer behind the store rather than travel back and forth from Western Maryland to Annapolis. Habel was a likable sort and had many friends. Those were the days. Sadly, he died in 1987.
In 1980, the building was expanded to its current form and the name was changed to Anglers Sport Center, Limited. The post office was removed and the little grocery store was eliminated. Charlie gradually bought in with his father and the other two partners. Unfortunately, Deitz passed away, leaving father, John, and son, Charlie, as the remaining owners.
And so, with time, Anglers evolved into a family business with Charlie managing the day-to-day aspects of the store. John, now a semi-retired attorney, takes care of the financial and legal side of the business such as licensing and zoning matters. Charlie’s wife, Jane, and son, Mike, 25, play a major part in the smooth running of the business. Jane does most of the ordering, receiving and advertising while Mike and Charlie order the fishing and hunting items.
The future looks great for Anglers. Although hunting is good, it has been on the decline due in part to the loss of habitat and available land to hunt. In spite of that, Mike is interested in taking over the business one day and Charlie would like to keep it in the family.
Including family, Anglers supports five full-time employees and from eight to 10 part-time employees. Jim “the gun man” and Dennis Doyle, outdoor writer, make up part of the staff.
“It’s a good group of people,” Charlie said.
Selling bait such as bloodworms, bunker and chicken-necks is the mainstay of the fishing business.
“There is good profit in bait but also losses,” said Charlie. “If the weather is bad and not as many people go fishing, we may have to toss hundreds of dollars worth of bloodworms.”
Anglers has felt the effects of the down economy just like everybody else. Nevertheless, Charlie has continued to donate merchandise to such organizations as Coastal Conservation Association, Ducks Unlimited, and Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association.
“It’s all part of running a business,” Charlie said.
Many famous people have been in Anglers over the years including Roy Clark, Dick Cheney, Jodi Foster, Roland Martin, Lefty Kreh and Kevin Van Dam. In the early 1990s, President Clinton came in the shop one morning around 5:30 a.m. with the Secret Service. According to Charlie, they asked the customers in the store to leave. Once the place was cleared, the president came in to buy a hunting license. As the story goes, Clinton didn’t have the cash on him and borrowed it from one of the agents.
Maryland outdoor writing legend, Bill Burton, came in Anglers numerous times over the years. He often called on Charlie for fishing and hunting reports just as he did in many of the tackle shops in the state. We all miss Burton.
Anglers is open every day except Christmas. Business hours vary depending on the season. They are open at 4:30 a.m. during the hunting season and 5 a.m. during the fishing season.
“We’re open early for those needing bait and ammo,” said Charlie, who works five days a week, but is always on call. He still enjoys coming to work, talking about the old days, and helping people learn how to hunt and fish. “Beer, Bait and Bullets” has become the Anglers motto. “It’s all about customer service,” Charlie said.
In recognition of 50 years in business, Anglers is going to have a spring sales event as a Customer Appreciation Day, date to be determined.
After 50 years, Anglers is still a familiar and reliable place to go to get the latest fishing reports, stock up on outdoor gear and venture out to enjoy our beautiful state.
Tim Campbell is an avid angler and member of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association.
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