Adapting to the changing tides of business-Little Forks Outfitters

Robert “Bo” Brines has been watching the business since he was a kid in the 60’s.

“Main Street used to be a major hub,” says Brines. “…Dow Chemical got paid on Thursday nights and could barely walk down the boulevard.” Ten years later, Brynes began working at his father’s company, Bob Brynes, his office, his supplies. . Then Moll came to town.

“Sears lost downtown, JC Penney, anchor here. All of a sudden there were a lot of empty storefronts,” he says.
Robert “Bo” Brines opened Little Forks Outfitters in 1995.
of Downtown Development Authority newly formed at that time. As the DDA began stepping up its efforts to help downtown thrive, Brynes became obsessed with his idea of ​​owning a business.

“I used to hang out in the Yellowstone area a lot, backpacking and trout fishing west with friends. “And then I realized that there is nothing like this here.”

Brines noticed other signs of support for his business idea. With the rise of fly fishing in the movie A River Runs Through It, his Orvis, an outdoor retail brand specializing in fly fishing, was looking for a dealer to partner with.

“They were selling mailer catalogs, so they had a pretty good idea of ​​what markets would support it,” says Brines. “They thought Midland, Saginaw and the Bay Area would support dealers pretty well.
Little Forks Outfitters is located in downtown Midland at 143 E. Main Street.
As Carl Gerstacker built DDA, he looked for specialty stores such as Orvis dealers. “He said it by name, so I took it as an omen,” says Brynes.

In 1995, Blinds opened. Little Forks Outfitters 143 E. Main Street. He has owned the building for almost 20 years and is happy with the decision. “I bought it from a second-generation shoe store. I really embraced the history of downtown.”

Shitamachi continues to transform even today. In 2018, traffic lights throughout the city were replaced with four-way stop signs, making walking safer. “Downtown Midland has a vision of being a pedestrian-friendly, community-gathering space. .

He believes the pedestrian square is also a step in the right direction. “People come here just to hang out. They come not just in the evening when something is happening, but any time there are people and they can go outside. From 15 years ago he said 20 years ago , which was not always the case.”

Brines has been with DDA for about 20 years. A certain level of representation is required as the city management appoints officers. Brines appreciates insights from financial professionals, downtown residents, property owners, and business owners.

Brines has been with DDA for about 20 years. He has been on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Retailers Association since his 2012.
“They make sure that different voices downtown are heard,” he says. …there are other parts of the whole downtown entrepreneurial experience that I find really rewarding. A lot of really good investments have been made. ”

Brines believes that downtown Midland is a mix of businesses, but there are also things that should be downtown: bakeries, bookstores, family breakfast spots, and entertainment options like theaters and nightclubs. I believe there is a gap.
Little Forks has a wide variety of gear for outdoor enthusiasts, including big names like Patagonia, Yeti, and Orvis.
“But it’s important to hire the right people to make it happen,” says Brines. “I’ve spent 30 years of him building this, and that’s what it takes. You can’t just have an idea that’s formed along the way and be fully committed to it.”

In business, we are always trying new things. For local brick-and-mortar businesses, online shopping is one of them. “The expectation is that people want to be able to see my inventory at any time, so a lot of people make their own decisions and think about what they need before they come to the store. ” he says Mr. Brines. “…if it’s not transparent and available on the web, it’s just not in the game.”

Brines has worked hard to make their inventory visible online. In recent years, they’ve made impressive progress, but cataloging all the images, descriptions, and inventory is no easy task. It’s very important.”

Despite its challenges, Little Forks remains a community staple 28 years later. Brines attributes his success to his passion for the outdoors and commitment to learning.
Brines’ passion for fly fishing allows Little Forks to boast an impressive selection of fishing gear.
“I try to be mindful and learn as much as I can about not only learning the sports we support, but also being a great business person and a great member of our community,” Brines said. says Mr. “I am talking to a lot of people who are willing to do business with us because they know I have really tried to contribute to making the community a better place.”

He also serves on the Board of Directors Michigan Retailers Associationand served as chair from 2020 to 2022. Brines says he learned a lot from his fellow board members. He also owns many family-owned businesses. It was a really interesting ward to interact with. ”

The Michigan Retailers Association provides members with credit card processing, insurance, legislative advocacy, and more. “It’s a class act. The staff are phenomenal. … I’m proud to be associated with them.”

“When the store is busy, things are going well, and people are happy and smiling, there’s no better feeling,” says Brines.
Brines is looking to expand his business, but he’s also happy with how it’s run. He looks forward to seeing more businesses move downtown.

“I think the best for downtown is yet to come,” says Brines. “I think Midland is a great community to do business in. We have a strong economic engine and lots of good jobs and good strong family ties.”

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