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West side bait shop closing after more than six decades in business

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A family-owned bait shop on the west side of Indianapolis has said it will close the doors at the end of the year.

West Side Bait and Tackle started in 1951 by Tom Donlan and a friend of his on the fire department. Fishing was important to Tom Donlan at a young age thanks to the influence of his uncle.

“My dad said, “the basis of a good bait shop is to start with good, fresh, live bait and build from there. The bait shop developed around him going out and catching bait and then bringing it in to sell it,” said Jim Donlan who is the son of the original owner. 

For the last 20 or so years, son Jim Donlan ran the shop with his brother Timmy.

“A lot of the customers we had coming in here are third and fourth generation customers. A lot of them have watched me grow up and they’ll call me out on it all the time,” Jim Donlan added.

“I started coming here about nine or 10 years old. Lived in the neighborhood and this was the bait shop to go to,” said Chuck Wright who has been a customer since 1965.

“Everybody on the west side came here. This has just been such a part of our life. I’m gonna miss it so bad,” said Carol Hill who is a sister of the owner.

After 68 years in business, the owner said he is ready to spend more time with his family. 

“To my customers, I love you guys and I’ll miss you guys. It’s been a great run, we’ve loved the time we have had to spend together,” he added. 

The bait shop will close on Dec. 31. Currently, everything in the store is 25 percent off.