NEBRASKA CITY – Allen Paap Jr. will be celebrating his 60th year in business this month with gifts, door prizes, refreshments, family and friends, and a lot of stories about the “one that got away.”
He and his family hope customers old and new will join them on July 12 and 13.
Paap said his business started out across the road in 1954, as a filling station that also happened to sell live bait and other odds and ends.  
As he recalls, they started buying furs in the early 1960s, and then in June of 1977 opened Paap’s Sport Shop across the road in its present location.  
Paap said that self-service gas stations came along, and business was good for hunting, fishing,  and trapping, so the time was right.
Paap made a living off his business, supporting his wife and seven children, working more hours than he was off, but always finding time to get out and go fishing.  
“I’ve probably got more hours in a float tube than anyone alive,” the 86 year-old proudly declared.  
All of that time and experience has paid off, too, as is evidenced by the state record-winning Crappie mounted on the wall, and the photo of Paap holding a 55 pound Flathead, among all the other photos and plaques.
All of his years of experience provide one other benefit, too, Paap has good advice for his customers and is willing to share it.  Even though he has stiff competition from Walmart, Cabela’s, the guy down the street selling worms from his refrigerator, and every gas station, Paap’s customers come back.  
He has customers from Nebraska City and Syracuse, Hamburg, Iowa, and northwest Missouri because people know him, they’ve dealt with him for years, and they know he’ll “steer them straight.”
Paap said, “It’s not unusual for the phone to ring and people to just ask how the fish are biting...” he smiled, “and I usually know.”  
For those who have been out already and caught a big one, there are pictures lining the counter showing off their catches.  
Paap’s Sport Shop has been a deer check-in station for years, and there are pages of pictures of hunters with their deer to be viewed, too.  
Of his many years in business, Paap says that his wife has to be commended for raising their seven children, all of her assistance with the shop over the years, and her incredible patience.  Their children, five girls and two boys, helped over the years, too, and at one time his youngest son, John, hoped the store would be passed on to him some day.  “Of course,” John joked in front of his father, “I didn’t know I’d be waiting this long!”  
Paap smiled indulgently and said he wasn’t planning on going anywhere soon.  “I’m 86 years old and this is what I know,” he said.   “I like to be around people,” he explained, “I like helping them decide what gear they need, where they should go, and what bait would be best.”  
For Paap, he found work that he loves, so it’s not work; it may not be the same as being in a float tube on some farm pond looking for a cool spot, but it’s a pretty good runner-up.