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Small Business Success Story: Fishing for the Right Business Opportunity

After a long career in publishing, Skip Sheppard started an encore career as an entrepreneur and found the perfect business opportunity in a fishing supply shop.


After a long career in the publishing industry, Skip Sheppard was ready to take control of his own career and become a small business owner. He looked at convenience stores, pizza shops and beyond, but it wasn’t until he went back to his roots that he found exactly what he was looking for.

Growing up in a fishing village on the coast of Maine meant Skip had been surrounded by the water since childhood. He eventually became an avid tuna fisherman and recreational boater, and when the opportunity to purchase a local marine and fishing supply store presented itself, he knew he had found his calling.

On April 13, 2012, Massachusetts resident Skip Sheppard officially re-opened Three Lantern Marine & Fishing located in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The 3,200-square-foot shop on Parker Street has dockage at the end of the Inner Harbor. It’s perfectly situated in the heart of the local fishing community, which has thrown its support behind Skip and his shop from day one. There, you’ll find bait, tackle, boat paint, apparel, supplies and beyond. Serving both recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, Three Lantern’s motto is, “If we don’t have it, ask.”

One lesson Skip learned on the journey to becoming a small business owner is how difficult it can be to obtain financing. Luckily, he learned of Guidant Financial’s 401(k) business financing, formally known as Rollovers for Business Start-ups (ROBS). ROBS allow entrepreneurs to roll over a portion of their IRA or 401(k) into launching a business, debt- and tax-penalty free.

Starting any business is a risk, and ever since Skip used his 401(k) to get his new venture off the ground, he maintains one thing: His shop is living proof that the process works.

“Working with Guidant Financial has been a success story right out of the gate,” said Skip.

And, today, the business is reaping the rewards of its unconventional start. Revenue has increased by double-digits every year since inception, and product lines continue to expand.

Each year the company celebrates its Annual Grand Re-Opening where customers, vendors and even Wicked Tuna celebrities are welcomed into the store to enjoy special promotions, food and entertainment for an entire weekend with the Three Lantern crew. Talk about community.

Learn more about Three Lantern Marine & Fishing on the official website. Read about Skip in USA Today.

Want to Use ROBS to Start a Business?

Our step-by-step Guide to Rollovers for Business Startups is a complete handbook of everything you need to know about using ROBS to start or buy a small business or franchise.

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