Just a few months before CB’s Saltwater Outfitters celebrates its 35th anniversary, it is marking two big achievements and working on a third.
When co-owner Aledia Tush and her husband, Lee, bought the Stickney Point Road business from Chuck Berecky in November 1976, Tush had the most rudimentary of skills as a fisherman. According to her dad, she might have cast a line one time in a pond near her Grundy, Va., home when she was a child.
“I learned as I grew up with the business, really,” she said.
“She enjoys it now,” says her son, Mason, who has been working full-time with his mother at CB’s since he graduated six years ago from the University of Florida.
Mason Tush’s comment could be called an understatement. Not only has Tush won the Sarasota County Tarpon Tournament twice, her reputation in sportfishing recently won her election to the American Sportfishing Association Board of Directors as the Southeast region representative.
In spite of the prestige of her election, Tush said she had to think about it before accepting, given her time commitment to the family business and other endeavors. But, ultimately, she said, “I really didn’t want to pass it up.”
The ASA is the trade association for the sportfishing industry. It is “committed to looking out for the interests of the entire sportfishing community,” according to a press release.
Tush’s nomination was voted on by all the members of the Southeast region. Most of her fellow board members are CEOs of major companies.
Moreover, she said, fishing is a man’s world. Of the new members on that board, representing at-large and other regional seats, Tush is the only woman. The ASA announced her election July 5.
Although Mason Tush calls that “CB’s biggest news of the summer,” a second prominent honor has been the store’s recognition as the Roves Co. Outfitter of the Year for 2011.
“It’s a big honor,” Tush said. “We’re real proud.”
She said that the recognition is not just for the store but also for CB’s fishing guides.
“They’ve had a lot of good feedback from the customers,” she said.
The next big event for CB’s this year will be making a decision on the future of the former BP service station, separated from the store’s property by a Bank of America branch. The Tushes finalized the purchase at the end of June, though the station had been closed since early spring.
“We value the property and its location,” Tush said, noting that it is on higher ground than CB’s.
That extra altitude was a primary reason they were interested in the property, Mason Tush said. If a hurricane heads for the Key, the Tushes can move stock to that spot for extra protection.
Although the family is not certain how it will proceed, Mason Tush said that the south end of the Key needs a service station; the only other place to buy gasoline on the Key is on the north end of Siesta Village, at the Circle K.
“We would like to keep it as a gas station and increase the size of the convenience store,” he said.