Bryan Williams, owner of Trailhead Mercantile in Niles, has taken over Trails End in Vandalia from his father, Dale.

Son takes over Trails End

Published 8:12pm Wednesday, May 30, 2012

For the last 20 years, Dale Williams has put his heart and soul into his store, Trails End Sports, 18171 W. State St., in Vandalia.
The original location began as a bait shop 60 years ago, the last 20 being under Dale’s ownership. As time progressed and the fishing crowd grew larger, Dale and his son, Bryan, ventured into Niles with Trailhead Mercantile, 209 E. Main St. But both father and son knew eventually ownership would shift and Dale would want to step back from the everyday store routine and retire.
“He’s been thinking about it for quite a while,” Bryan said. “When I moved back to the area, I decided I would take it over and branch out.”
The Niles location opened almost a year and a half ago, bringing in an entirely new customer base.
“I figured I’d take a whack at it,” said Bryan, who operates both stores. “We’re in that transition phase right now.”
Bryan is currently in the process of buying out all of his father’s inventory and replacing some items. Beyond a few minor repair and organization tasks, Bryan doesn’t want to change what his father had built.
“Any changes that I make will be minor,” Bryan said. “You don’t need to fix what isn’t broken.”
In the last few years, the economy has taken a toll on small business owners and many have been forced to reduce, not expand. However, Bryan remains positive about both store locations. In fact, next spring and summer will bring about a green house.
“We’d like to get some vegetable plants and have a retail green house,” Bryan said. “Once the product is sold, we’ll close it but maybe it could expand as time goes on.”
Though Dale isn’t completely absent from the stores he built up over the years, Bryan wanted to keep running the family business.
“I grew up in the Vandalia store,” Bryan said. “I wasn’t ready to let it go yet.”
Trailhead Mercantile is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
Trails End Sports is open 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, call (269) 476-9610 or (269) 683-3474.

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