It all began in the mid-1940s, when Frank Gorske and his wife, Margaret, would drive north on M-13 from their home in Bay City to visit family in Pinconning. Along the way, they would pass a wooded lot for sale near Linwood that was filled with white birch trees, and both fell in love with the location. By getting a loan from Margeret's aunt, Frank and Margaret got their dream property in 1945.
One day, two strangers showed up to buy minnows, and one of them asked where Frank was. Margaret said he was at work, but the stranger said he wasn’t, because he was Frank’s boss and hadn’t seen him in two weeks. Needless to say, this opened up a literal can of worms, and no one was sure how Frank survived while explaining matters to her wife when he got home that day with a load of minnows. That is how Margaret discovered that her family had just gone into the fishing bait business full-time.
Regardless, the die was cast and Frank’s Bait and Tackle was born.
Margaret’s parents, Joe and Lydia Deshaw, stepped in to lend a helping hand, with Lydia tending to the kids while Margaret sold bait and tackle, and Joe helping Frank catch the bait to sell. Besides selling minnows, they also sold worms and nightcrawlers, which had to be found as well. Frank's children would come along and become a part of the family bait business — including Frank Jr, Elaine and Don.
Besides bait, Frank and Margaret began selling fishing tackle in 1948, some of which they hung from hooks on a tree outside. In 1950, they obtained $1,000 of fishing tackle from Bay City Hardware on credit and stored it in the small garage. Unfortunately, shortly after that, the garage caught fire and burned down, destroying all the new tackle. Nothing in the garage was insured, but Frank and Margaret paid off the debt and continued stalwartly on. In 1951, they built a cinder block building which was used for storage and added a stone building on the front that would serve as the store.
In 1974, this was replaced by a large metal pole-barn, which would have six additions as the business grew. Frank’s also began selling ammunition, firearms, archery, kayaks and clothing and eventually needed even more space. A 30,000-square-foot building would replace the pole-barn in 1999, and the family business would become “Frank’s Great Outdoors.” Larry Gorske’s sons, Pete and Andy, would soon become the third generation in the family business, adding new insight by offering a whole catalog online as well as creating mail order.
When not in school, the fourth generation is now playing a role in the family business, too, so there is no doubt that the legacy begun by Frank and Margaret Gorske in 1945 will continue.
The slogan for this family business is: “If you take care of your customers, they will take care of you.”