Mystery Trade Re-seller Revealed!

27 Apr

Woolworth’s Sure-Lure

Have you ever just wanted to walk into a Department or Sporting Goods store from the 1930’s and 40’s to see what was for sale on the shelves? I sure would love to go back in time (for a day) and see the isles of Woolworth Store in 1939…. I sure would like to walk into this one…….

woolworth store 139

(image saved )

One of the most overlooked brands in vintage fishing tackle is the “Sure-Lure” brand which was sold through Woolworth Department Stores. Paw Paw was a tackle giant in the 40’s, and branded lures for many Sporting Goods stores, Hardware Stores, and Department Stores. Paw Paw and Woolworth’s struck a deal at some point in the late 30’s or 40’s.

What is Branding?

I wanted to first explain the concept of branding in the 30’s and 40’s to give you a better idea of how things were sold. Marketing or branding a product or product line is nothing new, and retail stores branded product as they do today. Retail giants like Woolworth’s had the buying power to buy in bulk directly from manufactures instead of going to “jobbers” or middlemen. Woolworth wanted to sell their own “brand” of fishing lures, so in order to do that they needed a name, and “Sure Lure” pretty much said it all for Woolworth’s. A brand enabled them to provide a product that would establish a name for themselves in the fishing business, so customers would have to come back to them to buy product. If they just sold Creek Chub and Heddon, customers could get them anywhere. With a brand, they could develop loyalty so customers would come back to them.



(Paul Seaton Woolworth

With branding comes bulk purchasing, and Woolworth’s had the power to go to the manufacturing giants like Creek Chub and Paw Paw, that specialized in selling to retailers who wanted to brand product.  Creek Chub and Paw Paw had economy lines that had no type of identification on the lures.  To entice the retailers, they would customize the boxes with their brand name , logo, and colors to differentiate them from the competition. Prices could remain low, so that retailers could compete in the heavily competitive fishing lure market.

3 hooker in box

It appears to me from my research that Creek Chub got to them first with their Shur-Strike line, and that relationship was short lived. At that time, they had not settled on the brand “ Sure Lure” as the boxes were just generic with no name. Paw Paw, moved in, and from the amount of lures I have collected, it looks like they had a long lasting relationship.

2 ss lures

The menu below shows the non-ornate logo used by Woolworth on a menu from 1939, similar to the one used on the Shur-Strike box.


(Woolworth Museum photo)

The boxes I originaly found came from fellow collector and fishing historian, Jim Jordan. Jim had a boxed Shur-Strike lure with the Shur-Strike code #’s on the end. Both of us were at a loss on what the logo and store could be. No store name was printed on the box, and since it had the Diamond name on the box, we both assumed it might be the tackle giant Shapleigh.

After further research, the logo never matched what Shapleigh used over the years, and after finding some Paw Paw lures in “Sure-Lure” boxes I started to see a connection, and wanted to dig deeper.

The key to finding the store would be to uncover what company used the “W” inside a diamond as their logo during the timeframe of 1935-1960. I had a hit list of names from Wilson to Worthington to Woolworths and more. I found a collector in England that had an extensive collection of Woolworth items, and asked him about the logo. It was a match! He verified it as a logo used in the late 30’s through the early 50’s.

Woolworth diamond logo


Next, the true proof came when Jim found a listing on ebay for a Sure-Lure. It still had the Woolworth retail sticker on the end of the box! This confirmed it and since then, I have found another box with the same style sticker.

2nd woolworth logo

woolworth logo on 3 hook box

It is also important to note that all the Sure Lure boxes found, have the Paw Paw Series codes. The code # makes it easy to confirm that they were only selling Paw Paw in these boxes. I have compiled a list of Paw Paw Series Lures that were sold under Woolworth’s so collectors will have an easier time matching boxes with lures.

Another interesting note is there are two different box styles used for Paw Paw lures. One has the black background under the Sure-Lure name and the other has a gold background. Otherwise, they are virtually the same. I am not sure which box was first, and have just about an even number of both.

black logo

red logo1

It appears the relationship ended by the 60’s and Woolworth’s changed their entire packaging to bubble packs and got away from any wooden style lures.

Below are the styles of lures I have collected and the code numbers associated with them. One of the things that makes these fun to collect is that Woolworth’s used the same code #’s that Creek Chub and Paw Paw used on their lures!

Sure Lures (Paw Paw)
3 Hookers
3304 red white
3301 perch
3307 pikie
3306 Silver Scale
3312 silver flash
900 Series
904 red white
901 perch
906 Silver Scale
907 Pikie
912 Silver Flash
6300 Series
6304 red white
6301 perch
6306 Silver Scale
6307 Pike
6312 silver flash
Bass Oreno
4404 red white
4401 Perch
4406 Silver Scale
4407 Pikie
4412 silver flash
2 5/8 Mouse
4644 red white
Surf Oreno
3204 red white
3201 Perch
3206 Silver Scale
3207 pikie
3212 Silver Flash
Baby Bass Oreno
4204 red white
4201 Perch
4206 Silver Scale
4207 Pikie
4212 Silver Flash
1604 red white
1601 Perch
1606 Silver Scale
1607 Pikie
1612 Silver Flash
Jtd Pikie
2104 red white
2101 Perch
2106 Silver Scale
2107 Pikie
2112 Silver Flash
9300 Series Lippy Joe
9301 Perch
9307 Pikie


Sure Lures (Shur Strike)

Heddon Runt

HR-2      Red/White

Injured Minnow

IM-2      Red/White

IM-1YP Yellow Perch


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