For lifelong hunter and fisher Will Waldrop, getting to spend his days at Outdoor Express is something that he wouldn’t change for anything.
“I grew up hunting and fishing,” he said. “I was in a boat my first time when I was five and I have been doing it ever since. There is nothing I would rather do. I played sports and it was either a ball, rod and reel, or gun in my hands everyday.”
That hasn’t changed much since.
Waldrop’s brother, Kenny, began Outdoor Express four years ago when he purchased what was then Sammy’s Tackle Box. Since then, the two brothers have seen their business expand and Waldrop says that Hurricane Katrina actually had a lot to do with that.
“The amount of traffic over the past four years has increased and we are probably seeing twice the traffic now than we did prior to Katrina,” he said. “Our inventory has had to go up because of it, not so much in the hunting and fishing part of it, but in the commodities area of the store.”
But expanding upon the inventory can be tough when you sell as many different items as Outdoor Express. Although better known for their full line of archery equipment and hunting and fishing merchandise, Outdoor Express also sells convenience items and gas. Then of course are the services they provide for their customers.
“We repair bows, sell and cut arrows, fit people for bows and string reels,” Waldrop said. “We also have a guy who comes in and does reel repairs for us.”
However, the archery equipment is where Outdoor Express really excels.
“Our claim to fame is our archery equipment,” Waldrop said. “We were PSC’s No. 1 overall dealer in this region from this little bitty store. We have been in that position for the second year running.”
Outdoor Express also boasts an archery range, which customers can practice on for $5 an hour.
“In the dead of summer if you want to practice it’s a whole lot nicer back there than it is in your backyard,” Waldrop said. “We have people come in and practice year round.”
Even though the store is known for their bows, they are also a popular stop for fishermen. Waldrop says Outdoor Express sells more live bait than anything else and can order almost anything that a hunter or fisher needs to be successful.
“I think what’s different about us than say any of the other places that sell tackle, like Wal-Mart, is that I can order anything,” Waldrop said. “If you walk into Wal-Mart and they don’t have the item you want, that’s just too bad, where as I have probably four different wholesalers I can go through.”
Waldrop says the store also does drop shipments for people where they contact the manufacturer directly and get it shipped to the store. The folks at Outdoor Express also know what they are talking about, unlike some other hunting and fishing suppliers.
“We don’t have people in here that would rather be in the dress department,” Waldrop said.
And because they know the ins-and-outs of the hunting and fishing industry, Outdoor Express is always open to new products and ideas.
“We are always open to change,” Waldrop said. “I had a guy come in here today from Houma who is starting his own crawfish boil seasoning. He’s going to bring some in, we’re going to try it, and if it sells, I’ll continue to carry it. We do stuff like that all the time.”
Waldrop, who was born and raised inside the parish, says that the store stays extremely busy from mid August through January and that he is constantly repairing merchandise or selling items during that time.
But, it’s not like he minds.
“The people make this job enjoyable and it’s the regulars who keep you going,” Waldrop said. “I’ve got everything from a crew that comes in at 5:15 a.m. to drink coffee on their way to work and guys who stop in everyday on their way home work.
“Plus, you always know when the fish are biting.”