People are often surprised to come upon Moe’s Bait and Tackle Shop when walking on Palisade Avenue near the light rail elevator in The Heights neighborhood of Jersey City — since a store that sells bait, fishing gear, and even fishing magazines seems a little out of place among the more urban landscape.
“I’ve seen the Moe’s Bait and Tackle sign for the past few years while riding past on the bus but thought it was either closed or a joke,” wrote a young woman on Yelp in 2014. “Nope, this place is legit! Need bait? Moe got you. Need tackle, Moe got you!”
Now, after anchoring a spot near the corner of Palisade and South Street for almost 50 years, owner Mauro Mazzilli, 72, says he is close to completing a sale of the land and closing up shop.
“It’s time,” he said Friday. “I want to retire while I still have some bounce in my step.”
A Zillow listing shows his three buildings up for sale for $2.3 million. He said he has “three irons in the fire” and will see which one of them plays out.
Before his father Nick started the business around 1970, he said, the spot was Palisade Casket Company and sold wooden caskets.
“I kid around sometimes,” he said, “and I say, ‘South Street was a dirt road when I started.’”
The neighborhood sits atop the Palisade hills overlooking Hoboken. Mazzilli’s shop is a five-block walk from the elevator down to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and three blocks from the Union City border.
Mazzilli said his family has a house in Pennsylvania on a lake, and he will retire there (to fish). He will also spend time in Florida (fishing).
“It’s getting too cold to fish here now,” he said.
Typically, Mazzilli sits behind a desk in his driveway during the day, greeting customers. Behind him is a garage full of supplies, including weights that start at under two dollars, fishing magazines, and a cooler full of bait.
He said he still gets a steady stream (so to speak) of customers, and that some of them fish in the Hudson River. A webpage for the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association quotes him as saying that the north side of the pier at the Chart House restaurant in Weehawken is a good location.
“Right now the striper run is pretty good,” he said. (He means striped bass, for the uninitiated.) He said he doesn’t recommend eating the blackfish from the Hudson.
He said he doesn’t mind the changes in his neighborhood. “It’s all for the better,” he said. “This was always a decent neighborhood.”
He said fishing is a good antidote to stress.
“Whatever problems you have, they’re gone,” he said. “It’s like therapy. It’s like that for a lot of people, not just myself. It gets you out of your head.”
He said that depending on the sale of the property, he will close for good anytime from a few weeks from now to some time next year.
Moe’s Bait and Tackle is located at 10 South Street. Look for the old-fashioned sign on the corner of Palisade and South Street.