Gruene was settled in the late 1800’s by German cotton farmers. The boll weevil and the Great Depression caused the downfall of the Gruene’s farming business in the 1920’s and Gruene became a ghost town. In the 1970’s, the land and buildings were purchased by a San Antonio resident, restored and reopened. What is now the Gristmill Restaurant was the original cotton gin, and our building was the Gruene Brothers’ Garage. During this time, Ray Box used our structure as a workshop for the renovation of the other buildings. In the Spring of 1989, Ray Box opened Gruene Outfitters with a small rack of Patagonia clothing, a boat building operation in the back room and a huge passion for fly-fishing.
Development and Change
As the outdoor clothing business grew, Ray switched from boat-building to selling more fly tackle and soft goods. He guided fly-fishing on local rivers and ran the shop full-time. By the year 1998, he had switched from local guiding to saltwater guiding and opened a second store in Corpus Christi, as well as a fishing lodge operation in South Texas. The Corpus store only lasted a few years, but the Gruene store continued to survive even amidst 9/11 and an economic downturn. In 2000, Tiffany Yeates began working at the store, while in business school at Texas State University. As an avid fisherperson, she quickly caught on to fly-fishing, and fell in love with the sport and the retail business. After graduating, she stayed on and ran the shop until the Winter of 2006, when she purchased the store from Ray Box. Tiffany, who is still the proprietor, continues to grow the business and her knowledge of fly-fishing and fly tackle each year.