Klein's Sporting Goods ad from the December 1961 Outdoor Life magazine.

This may be stretching it a bit for the under-50 crowd, but for those of us who are over 50, discount tackle houses were a mainstay from the 60s through the 80s.  Then in the 1980s, Johnny Morris and his Bass Pro Shops pretty much obliterated them with better deals and better tackle.

One of the biggest discount houses that existed back in the day was Sportsman’s Liquidators.  They were known to sell name brand gear, under their own name, usually seconds from major tackle companies such as Heddon, South Bend, and Pflueger.

Sportsman’s Liquidators had a catalog they’d send on a yearly basis, even if you never bought anything from them.  I have no idea how I got on their mailing list but believe me I’d scan through their catalog and dream.  They had tackle at unbelievably low prices.  I’m talking Bomber-like lures for 50¢, Hellbenders, Rapalas, rebels, all for usually 75% of the retail for the real thing.  My dad would never let me order because, “they are probably going to rip you off,” but what I know today, I wish I’d have spent some of my lunch money on those off-brand baits.

But another company that you’d see in the major magazines of the time was Klein’s Sporting Goods.  I never got a mailer from them but I did see them in Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, and Field and Stream.  You’d see a big two-page spread of deals that were really hard to comprehend.  Being a kid, I never had the opportunity to order from them and if I asked my dad, he again say, “they’re crooks.  There’s no way they can sell that for that cheap.”

Now today I wish I’d have been maybe 15 years older and had credit.  Because, if their deals were really up to snuff, these were some amazing prices on name brand tackle.

So, lets look at this 1961 two-page ad I found in the December issue of Outdoor Life and see what they had to offer and what the fine print said.

On the left page was a fly rod kit and a spinning rod kit.  The spinning rod kit consisted of a Garcia Mitchell 308 and a Garcia rod.  The kit included a Garcia tackle box, 11 Garcia lures, most likely made by ABU, and some terminal tackle.  Although light for bass fishing, this deal was a steal.  The reel alone would cost $25 at a tackle store.  They state the actual value at being $85 but I would argue you could get it for $70.  Still, at $34.98, that’s a 50% discount.

Then, on the right-hand page is another spinning combo priced at $39.95.  It seems to feature a Mitchell 300 with matching rod, rod case and rod bag, two spools, accessory kit, tackle box, extra line, 22 lures and terminal tackle.  That’s a deal better than Johnny offered even in the early 1980s.

So, there’s gotta be a catch, right?  Well, let’s look at the fine print.

Klein’s require all new credit customers to give their employer, names of two companies you’ve had credit with before, age, occupation, number of dependents, how long you’ve been with your current job, and your weekly salary.  Yes, this was the time when having a Sears credit card meant you had exemplary credit and Klein’s wasn’t going to take a chance on you if you’d only been at your new job for 6 months.

Doing the math, if you paid the minimum down ($1.00) and paid $1.77/month, it’d take 19.2 months to pay off the debt.  There is nowhere I can see where they charge extra for monthly payments.  If this is the case, it’s a no-brainer as the Mitchell 300 is worth almost as much as the total offer.  What’s the catch?  I don’t see one, but my pessimistic mind says there has to be one.

If any of you out there reading this had experience buying from Klein’s in the past, a comment below would really be appreciated.  Until then, I guess we’re going to have to go with the assumption al was good and using this early form of mail order was legit.

Klein's Sporting Goods ad from the December 1961 Outdoor Life magazine. Page 1.
Klein's Sporting Goods ad from the December 1961 Outdoor Life magazine. Page 2.
Klein's fine print. 1961 Outdoor Life.