& Fran’s, an iconic Avon tackle shop that’s been luring anglers for
nearly 30 years, will have new owners soon, but Frank Folb, the
store’s co-owner who is arguably just as recognized as the shop itself,
will still be around from time to time, so the new owners can make the
transition as smooth as possible for regular customers.
of Frank & Fran’s longstanding employees – Ginger Knight who has
been working there 12 years, and Frank and Fran’s daughter, Tammy
Tinsley, who has been working at the shop on and off since she was a
kid – will also be sticking around. And the two new primary owners,
Heather James and Stephanie Ryals, say that the shop's management
style, services, friendly atmosphere, location, and even the name will
continue to be the same.
said, ‘Your name has been synonymous with what this place has been all
these years, so we’re definitely keeping it,’” says Frank. “I think
they will add their own ideas later on. One of their big passions is
diving, so they might incorporate that into the shop at some point, but
that’s not something that will happen right away.”
As for Frank and Fran, they plan to retire, and move to a small town close to Rocky Mount and Raleigh.
73 years old, and it’s time,” says Frank. “At our age, [moving to
Raleigh] puts a lot of major medical options at our disposal, and
that’s a big reason... Plus, I really want to ride [around] on a big
every fisherman who has vacationed in Avon for the past 28 years knows
Frank, the “Fisherman’s Friend,” and has frequented the shop for
everything from new rods and reels, to a little advice on what to catch
and where to go.
all aspects of the business – from the building to Frank and Fran
themselves – have deep ties to the island that have spanned decades and
that generate a little nostalgia for virtually all long-time visitors
mother was born in Avon, and his father was a doctor on the island in
the 1920s and 1930s. There’s a street named after his father – Doc Folb
Lane – in the heart of Buxton, and most of Frank’s family members --
including his parents, grandparents, and cousins - are buried in Buxton
Frank and Fran moved to the island in 1975, and they worked at various jobs before Frank & Fran’s came to fruition.
“I originally had plans of building a motel and restaurant, which did not materialize, Thank God,” says Frank.
Avon building was initially a local arcade called the “Play Pen,” which
had pinball machines and arcade games during the height of the Pac-Man
mania era in the early 1980s. It was owned by a man who also operated
the theater next door -- which later became Dockside Hatteras and which
is now a souvenir store. After it flooded in the mid-1980s, it was sold
and turned into a tackle shop in 1986.
began working at the tackle shop, and two years later, she and Frank
approached the owner about taking over the reins. They officially
opened Frank & Fran’s in 1988, and an iconic fisherman’s
destination was born -- with a little initial trepidation about the
did not like the original name,” says Frank, “… But we worked at so
many tackle shops, that people knew who we were, and we wanted them to
know where we had gone.”
red drum icon has always been a fixture of Frank and Fran’s too, and
although the “Avon World Record Tackle” moniker and related taglines
have disappeared, the connection to a record breaking catch remains.
Frank & Fran’s has a place in the local fishing history books, and
the response to Frank’s departure – a figure that more than one local
has referred to as “everyone’s grandpa” – has been mixed.
lot of people are sad, but are still glad for Fran and me,” says Frank.
“The comments have been from one gamut to the other. For us, the
excitement is more than the apprehension now, but the apprehension is
isn’t completely disappearing from the island anytime soon, however.
The couple will keep their 1964 Hatteras Island home, and plan to come
down once every two weeks to a month, for about a week at a time.
addition, Frank will be down for all the major tournaments, holidays,
and the arrival of big groups in the coming months – which includes
seasoned regulars like the “Blues Brothers,” who visit every year.
Frank is also planning on looking into new business ventures once he is officially retired.
the meantime, Frank & Fran’s is marking the occasion with a
combined celebration of Frank and Fran’s retirement, as well as an
introduction to the new owners – Heather and Tim James and Stephanie
and Randy Ryals.
“I’ve already started calling [Heather and Stephanie] ‘Fric and Frack,’” says Frank.
big public “Thank You” that is open to everyone on the island will have
plenty of good eats provided by Crazy Johnny’s Bar-B-Que and will be
held on Saturday, Sept. 3, from 1 p.m. until the food is gone.
party will be happening in the parking lot of Frank & Fran’s,
although indoor options are being considered if it looks like rain will
be in Saturday’s forecast.
event is a great opportunity to wish Frank and Fran well, and thank
them for nearly 30 years of serving as Hatteras Island’s favorite
fisherman’s friends and to also meet the new owners who have been busy
learning the ropes and meeting the community.
want them to succeed, and for Frank & Fran’s to keep going” says
Frank. “I don’t want any failure to be an option for this business.”
with the retention of favorite employees and adherence to the current
friendly business structure, it appears that Franks & Fran’s won’t
be going anywhere anytime soon, even if Frank is miles away, enjoying a
ride on his big green tractor.
And even though folks won’t run into Frank on a daily basis in the not-so-distant future, he’ll still be around.
won’t do a retail fishing tackle business again, but we will still be
back on the island,” he says, before adding with a smile, “And I will
still be the Wal-Mart greeter here on occasion.”