FELLSMERE — For eight months, Sportsmen's Specialties has been up and running at the far end of a strip industrial park next door to Treasure Coast Community Health. Now, the prolonged "soft" opening is finally over.
"I wanted to have an impressive inventory," owner Jeff Leserra said of waiting so long to hold his official grand opening.
Just in time for hunting and gator seasons, Leserra invited his vendors out to the store for a barbecue and celebrate with customers new and old.
A portion of proceeds from his grand opening celebration over the weekend went to help the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated to assisting wounded servicemen and women.
For Leserra, Sportsmen's Specialties is a family affair - a business he runs with his co-owner and wife, Chris, and their children, son Andy and daughter Lindsey, along with Andy's girlfriend, Lara Baker.
Leserra joked about "cheap" labor while Lindsey rolled her eyes.
Within half an hour of the grand opening, the parking lot along the center had filled up and spilled over to the service road alongside County Road 512 and into Treasure Coast Community Health's lot.
"It's exciting to see the response from the community," Leserra said, given that the celebration really had only been advertised through word-of-mouth and through the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the Indian River County Airboat Association poured in, displaying their airboats as part of the celebration. Leserra explained that he does a lot of business with the airboat group, which is why the organization was asked to attend.
Leserra could have decided to set up shop elsewhere but chose the east end of Fellsmere to help attract incoming hunters and anglers on their way out to the Stick Marsh and Blue Cypress Lake.
"You know that bumper sticker - ‘Fellsmere, where the west begins'?" Leserra asked, "That's why."
He noted the area is popular for duck and deer hunting along with bass fishing. He hopes to capitalize on the traffic that passes by on its way out to those hunting and fishing grounds.
Sportsmen's Specialties carries an array of gear including archery/crossbows, frog and gator hunting gear, fresh and saltwater fishing equipment, marine supplies, turkey hunting gear, deer stands and blinds, decoys, bowfishing, and outdoor apparel.
Leserra said the business grew out of a natural extension of his upbringing and interests.
A Florida native, he said he grew up a vegetable grower who was always outdoors, which grew into hunting and fishing.
"That's where the passion began," he said, adding that he discovered he was mechanically inclined, and began working on farm equipment.
That mechanical inclination extended into stock car racing, which later evolved into a fabrication shop Leserra created. Building such items led Leserra to create his own frog gigging and gator hunting gear and doing fabrication for other hunting and fishing shops.
From there, Leserra decided it was time to set up his own retail shop - creating Sportsmen's Specialties.
Sportsmen's Specialties is located at 12198 County Road 512, Fellsmere, and can be reached by phone at (772) 633-0854 or online at www.SportsmensSpecialties.com.