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If you are from Coffee County, you don’t have to be an avid fisherman or even know how to cast a line to have heard about Elmo’s Bait and Tackle at some point in your life. Sadly, this local bait and tackle shop that almost everyone has come to know and love has officially closed its doors along with a lifetime of friends, family, and memories.
Since 1990, Elmo’s has been located at 805 South Manilla Avenue directly across the street from College Avenue Baptist Church. According to Amy Lott, her grandfather, Elmer Wiggins, is the man responsible for bringing this local legacy to life. She states that after an attempt at opening a bait and tackle shop behind the Catfish House in Douglas back in the 1980’s, he relocated to what we have all known as Elmo’s for the last 33 years. Amy also pointed out that the name of the bait and tackle shop came from the close correlation to her grandfather’s name, Elmer.
Unfortunately, Mr. Elmer passed away in 1992, just two short years after Elmo’s opened. After his passing, his wife, Susie Wiggins, took over the store and ran it to the best of her abilities for the next several years. Many of you probably remember Mrs. Susie for her delicious peanut brittle that she would make and sell in Elmo’s until she reached the age of 90. According to Amy, there were days that cars would be wrapped around the building with customers who were lined up to purchase their fishing goods — and Mrs. Susie’s peanut brittle of course. Around the year 2000, when Mrs. Susie could no longer run the store herself, Amy’s uncle, Buck, stepped in.
Amy states that Buck Wiggins has operated Elmo’s for the last 23 years. She recalls getting off the school bus as a child and spending time with her Uncle Buck and other family members who were working at Elmo’s. Since taking over the business all those years ago, Buck has spent most of his time keeping Elmo’s up and running from 6:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the evening. However, he did make an exception for a day and a half each week. Amy states, “When he was closed after 12:00 pm on Tuesday and all day Wednesday, you knew where to find him. He was at the river” — fishing of course.
Buck Wiggins knows “anything about all of it,” according to his niece. She states that someone could walk in and ask about the tides in Brunswick and Buck could tell them all about it. As explained by Amy, these are the things they will miss the most about Elmo’s Bait and Tackle. “Seeing all the people. Hearing them tell all of their fishing stories,” Amy says, when referring to things that will be most hard to let go.
With Elmo’s closing and Mr. Buck’s retirement, there is no doubt that the local community will be leaving behind great memories made and of course some even better live bait and tackle. Amy states you can still find plenty of bait and tackle at her store in Broxton at Broxton Hardware and Gifts. As for Mr. Buck, Amy says, if you’re ever wondering what he’s up to in the coming days, he will be easy to find — he's probably gone fishin’.