By Terry Miller

Wil Fitzpatrick, owner of the eponymous Wil’s Sport & Tackle, is well known in the community — having served the community’s fishing needs from his shop on the north end of Old Town Monrovia for many years. As one of the sons of the late Pam Fitzpatrick, Wil garnered a unique following during difficult financial times. Then came COVID-19, and everything changed with closures and limited hours turning Monrovia almost into a ghost town after the first lockdown.

Fitzpatrick has been Monrovia’s very own fishing guru since 2012. The store has been a sanctuary for local fisherman to procure equipment, maintain their tools, and exchange fish tales. If you’ve never been to Wil’s Sport & Tackle, you’re in for a rare treat and now the whole store is on sale. Yes, Fitzpatrick has called it quits and has “gone fishin’” as the popular door sign says.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided it’s time to close. The support we have received over the last 8 years will never be forgotten and [we are] exceedingly grateful for each of you,” Wil’s brother Luke posted on Facebook Tuesday night. “Everything in the store is 50% off and must go!”

It’s always sad when a business closes in a small town like Monrovia and words of support started flooding in almost immediately.

“Man Wil/Luke very sorry to hear. You guys are freakin awesome, and I hope everything is gonna be ok. We will be thinking about you. Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the craft. You guys ran a great store and always took care of your customers,” wrote Brandon Frye. “I always enjoyed coming in, even if to just shoot the crap with Wil. We wish you guys luck.” Comments like this from Frye sum up the community’s collective sadness: “

Some loyal customers responded with more than just words. At one point Wednesday, the shop was so busy that employees were unable to answer phones. “The turnout and show of support today was phenomenal,” someone wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “We are totally sold out of rods and reels but still have fresh and saltwater tackle to sell.” The store will again open Thursday at 10 a.m.

Wil’s carries everything a fisherman would need: reels, fresh and saltwater bait/tackle, hooks, sea-sickness pills, cleaning products, and more. They offer many of the industry’s biggest brands, both international and domestic: Franklin, Owner, Izorline International, Warbaits, Mustad, and Cal-Star, to name a few. They also carry Japanese companies such as Daiwa, Shimano, and Okuma.

The store caters to all levels of fishing expertise, from kids’ gear to the high-quality equipment necessary for an international trip. “We set people up for long-range tuna trips down into Mexico,” he told Monrovia Weekly in 2016 during an interview. “I have a customer that went to Mongolia, we get Alaska customers, we get people that go everywhere.”

Wil’s Sport & Tackle is located at 310 S. Myrtle Ave. in Monrovia.

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