KEY LARGO -- When business stopped booming in Hialeah, Jose Aguiar did something he feared he could never do. Putting all his faith in God, he moved his bait and tackle shop to Key Largo.
The business, Save Our Boat Marine Services, is located in the median at Mile Marker 98.5 and offers live bait and fishing equipment, fishing licenses, rod repair, boat accessories and other boating needs.
Aguiar and wife Yolanda describe themselves as a hard-working Christian couple. They met when they were 15 at Hialeah High School and tied the knot a few years later. Aguiar, a certified marine mechanic, opened a bait and tackle shop in Hialeah about nine years ago. When business began to slow down, a regular customer challenged them to move the business and the Aguiars took the advice.
Jose said he sacrificed a lot to start the new journey.
"We sold everything to get down here," he said. That includes the boat he enjoyed using any weekend he could.
Since most of their customers frequented the Florida Keys, the Aguiars hope to retain a large percentage of their customer base.
Part of the reason the Aguiars say they were sent to Key Largo was a need for an adventure.
Their two sons have most recently left the dependence of their parents, causing what they call empty-nest syndrome.
Yolanda Aguiar is learning first-hand that stocking the store while taking new orders is a challenge.
"I work 19 hours a day sometimes," she said. "I take naps and I keep going."
She said she had help packing up the shop in Hialeah, but now getting items back on the walls alone is no simple task.
"It was so easy to take it down," she joked. "Putting it back up is the hard part."
If a customer is looking for bait and tackle on the Sabbath, this shop may not be the best bet.
"Sunday is for church and fishing," Jose said.
They said their business is as environmentally friendly as possible.
"Everything we can recycle, we do," Yolanda said.
Her husband wants to dive directly into the community. He says he looks forward to sponsoring and supporting local sports teams.
"We're very hospitable people," he said. "We just want to talk with people."
Being in a tourist town, he knows customers can come from different income brackets.
"We treat every customer the same whether they spend $1 or $200," Jose said.
The shop is also geared toward boaters who get an early start. It opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m.
"If people realize they forgot something, we will open early for them," Jose said.
The Aguiars opened their business last month, but the excitement was dampened by the arrival of Tropical Storm Isaac.
"We took the signs out, then had to bring them all back in," he said.
For more information, call 305-451-1034.