LIVINGSTON — This time last year, Dan Bailey's Fly Shop was in the midst of transitioning owners.
John Bailey, Dan's son, had been the sole owner since 1982 but decided to retire and hand over the reins to Dale Sexton and Mark Gurley in April 2020.
It was a leap of faith for the fly shop's new owners because of the ongoing pandemic, but one year later and business is booming.
“We were wide-eyed and kind of on our heels when it first happened," said co-owner Dale Sexton."We didn’t know how it would be operating amidst COVID and whatnot, but everybody's just been so supportive.”
Dan Bailey's Fly Shop isn't new territory for Sexton. The Livingston native worked there for a handful of years throughout high school and college.
In 1996, Sexton started a business of his own right down the road called Timber Trails.
“What we were doing was hike, bike, ski, but fishing was always a passion of mine," Sexton said. "I was like, how cool would it be to do a hike, bike, ski, fishing shop and one of the most iconic fishing shops is right here.”
Sexton had never envisioned owning Dan Bailey’s but had to put an offer on the table when he heard they were looking to sell. John Bailey accepted the offer in late April 2020.
Sexton combined his business with the fly shop to form Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Company, ultimately giving customers a one-stop-shop for all things recreational - a business move that has thrived during the pandemic.
“People couldn’t go to indoor gyms," Sexton explained. "They couldn’t go to indoor sporting events. They couldn’t go to the movie theatre, so what do you do when you’re feeling pent up? Well, I’m going to go out and ride a bike or I’m going to go fishing or I’m going to go hiking. Every one of our areas of specialization benefited.”
While business has been robust, Dale says they’re still working out a few kinks since the merge.
However, one of the next plans the business has in motion is setting up a Dan Bailey Foundation focused on conservation efforts.
“Sometimes I can’t really even think about it because it’s so otherworldly how it all came together," Sexton said. "It was just meant to be.”