The store in Tomoka State Park will see a lot of changes.
Scott Cornelius finds himself laughing when he drives into work each morning. At the age of 30, he feels like he’s found his dream job, where he wants to stay for the rest of his life.
He recently purchased Tomoka Outpost, the store at Tomoka State Park.
“I’ve never been happier in my life,” he said. “It’s amazing to have the opportunity to come here every morning.”
He has big plans for the store, including expanded food service, a full range of fishing and boating supplies and new events.
“You’ll be able to get everything you need for fishing the river,” he said. “That’s what I’m most excited about.”
It’s easy to see why he enjoys his work. The windows of the Outpost have a panoramic view of the river, with islands and clouds reflected in the water.
Lifetime dream fulfilled
An Ormond Beach native, Cornelius has always lived within two miles of Tomoka State Park, and spent as much time as he could there, mostly taking part in his favorite pastime, fishing. He says the park is the original and natural Ormond Beach, away from crowded streets.
“It clears your mind and refreshes you,” he said.
A master captain, Cornelius has run The Good Life Charters at the park with his wife, Ashely, for a year. He had told the owners of the Outpost to let him know if there was ever an opportunity to buy the store, and his dream recently came true.
“Since I was five years old I wanted to own the store,” he said. “As a kid I would pass by in a boat and look over at this neat, big brown building. I thought last year when I opened the charter business my dream came true but now it really has.”
Expanded food service, events planned
He said a lot of locals have never been to Tomoka State Park, but he hopes to change that. There’s an entrance fee for the park, but he notes there are parking fees many place people go, including the beach.
His plans to expand the offerings and remodel the interior will happen gradually.
“We improve something each week,” he said. “It will be a year and half before it’s all done and it still will be a work in progress. I’m in no hurry. I’m going to be here the rest of my life. “
He has already made a simple change that has made a big difference. He added rocking chairs, and now people tend to stay around instead of buying their needs and heading back to the campsite or elsewhere. One day, a young woman went fishing while her grandfather sat in a rocking chair and waited for her.
“He was perfectly happy,” Cornelius said.
The interior will be remodeled with a nautical theme, and he plans to add a counter along with window, so people can enjoy their food and drinks with a view of the river.
“The whole layout will be different,” he said.
He expects to have parties, receptions and other events in the store.
Cornelius is currently concentrating on operating the store, but will eventually hire people to run it so he can concentrate on fishing and tour charters.
“I need to train myself before I train other people,” he said.
He works seven days a week, from sunup to sundown at the park. When he owned a landscaping business, he planned to retire at the age of 40, and perhaps run a small bait shop.
“Now I feel like I’ve retired at age 30,” he said.
Visit tomokaoutpost.com and thegoodlifecharters.com.
Charter Captain Scott Cornelius suggests that people hire a guide to learn to fish local waters. He said people can spend years learning what they can learn from a guide.