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Karl’s Fishing & Outdoor Casts New Line into Brick-and-Mortar

Designers allow shoppers to “choose their own adventure” in the first physical store from a brand revered by outdoor enthusiasts




ANGLERS OF ALL AGES, both novice and seasoned, have long turned to digitally native Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors (Chicago) for all things related to fishing. Billed as the Internet’s local tackle shop, the retailer has now opened its first brick-and-mortar store in WestBend, a 278,000-square-foot retail, office and dining destination in Fort Worth, Texas.

The location was carefully considered: In addition to satisfying logistical needs, WestBend sits on a fork of the Trinity River, and customers can literally walk out of the store and throw a line in the water.

📷: Mark Steele, Columbus, Ohio

📷: Mark Steele, Columbus, Ohio

Ross Gordon, Founder and CEO of Catch Co., Karl’s Fishing & Outdoor’s parent company, launched the brand with the mission of building meaningful and dynamic customer experiences, along with communities that celebrate fishing and the outdoors.

“Opening our first Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors store takes our mission to the next level by creating a shared space for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts to connect, learn about new products and ultimately embrace their passion for the outdoors,” says Gordon.

The visual merchandising strategy is meant to allow customers to “choose their own adventure” as they browse the space. Fixtures and messaging work together to guide novices through the store.

The visual merchandising strategy is meant to allow customers to “choose their own adventure” as they browse the space. Fixtures and messaging work together to guide novices through the store.


The timing was just right for entering the physical realm. According to Teeg Stouffer, Director of Retail Experience, Catch Co., “There’s synergy between digital and brick-and-mortar, one is an extension of the other. We all lead digitally connected lives. Fishing is a natural physical experience: we cast, then catch. But today we cast, catch and pull out our phones, take pictures and post to social media.”

Designed in partnership with Dayton, Ohio-based ChangeUp, a retail brand experience agency, the environment allows customers to choose their own adventure.

“If you’re a beginner, you don’t have to wade through the unknown to know where to start,” says Stouffer.

Karl’s Fishing & Outdoor Casts New Line into Brick-and-Mortar

Starting off, a welcoming fixture right at the entrance asks shoppers if they’re “New to Fishing?” Product and “shopping experience cards” are positioned throughout the store, answering common customer FAQs like “Are you interested in power fishing? Are you taking a kid fishing?” In-store shopping guides also assist guests along their journey through the store.

Karl’s Fishing & Outdoor Casts New Line into Brick-and-Mortar


With the knowledge that selecting the right bait can be overwhelming, a centrally-positioned “Lure Wall” was designed as an interactive, educational and fun touchpoint. Removed from their packages, the lures are cleverly mounted on the wall allowing customers to touch and feel.

“There is art in the bait,” says Ryan Brazelton, Chief Creative Officer, ChangeUp. “When the customer lifts the lure, a video monitor shows what the lure looks like underwater.”

Adding to the digital connection is the “Wall of Fame,” where anglers post images of their latest catches using their smartphones.

“Our overarching goal was to create an engaging environment that elevates the customer experience,” Stouffer says. “The fishing industry is typically a high-testosterone, high-energy industry defined by boats splashing through water. We add fun, whimsy and creativity to the customer connection to fishing and to their journey through the store.”

Project Suppliers

Karl’s Fishing & Outdoors, Catch Co., Chicago

ChangeUp, Dayton, Ohio


CG Northern, Fort Worth, Texas

Interactive Displays, Chicago

Opto, Chicago
Chicago Design Centrix, Chicago

signage/graphics, materials and wallcoverings
Colormark, Dallas

📷: Mark Steele


Eric Feigenbaum is a recognized leader in the visual merchandising and store design industries with both domestic and international design experience. He served as corporate director of visual merchandising for Stern’s Department Store, a division of Federated Department Stores, from 1986 to 1995. After Stern’s, he assumed the position of director of visual merchandising for WalkerGroup/CNI, an architectural design firm in New York City. Feigenbaum was also an adjunct professor of Store Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and formerly served as the chair of the Visual Merchandising Department at LIM College (New York) from 2000 to 2015. In addition to being the New York Editor of VMSD magazine, Eric is also a founding member of PAVE (A Partnership for Planning and Visual Education). Currently, he is also president and director of creative services for his own retail design company, Embrace Design.



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