Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

November 23, 2012

Willie from ‘Duck Dynasty’ wows locals at Gander Mountain

By Raymond Linex II

Corsicana — Team Edward? Team Jacob? How about Team Willie, jack.

Willie Robertson from A&E’s hit reality series “Duck Dynasty” showed up at Gander Mountain Thanksgiving night, and for the people who had a chance to meet him, it was an awe-striking experience.

Rhonda Sinclair and a few relatives were seated at Cinergy Cinemas about 20 minutes to 10, ready to watch “Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2,” when niece Amanda O’Sullivan received a text that Willie was at Gander Mountain. The show was 20 minutes from starting, with trailers already playing.

“Taylor started saying ‘Let’s go! Let’s go!,” Rhonda said.

Taylor Richards, Rhonda’s 15-year-old daughter, beat the group to the car to get it started. When they pulled into Gander Mountain, Willie’s truck was front and center.

Willie was at the checkout line.

“He got tickled when we told him we left ‘Twilight’ to come see him,” Rhonda said. “He was just like he is on the television show, down to earth, very nice, very patient with us.”

They took several pictures with Willie.

“Duck Dynasty” has one of those cult followings that makes stars out of everyday guys like Willie Robertson, his dad Phil and brother Jase, and his witty uncle Si.

The show is about “a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream as they operate a thriving business while staying true to their family values and lifestyle,” as stated on the show’s official website. That thriving business is “Duck Commander,” a duck call and decoy business that has made millionaires out of family members. Willie now runs the company.

Almost 4.5 million people watched last Wednesday’s premiere on A&E, TV by the Numbers reported on its website.

“According to my people, he was super nice,” Gander Mountain Store Manager Randy Smiley said. “He didn’t mind taking photos with people.

“We do have some of their products, and it’s such a hot commodity. It doesn’t last long.”

While the Sinclair contingent caught Willie leaving, Emily Thomas and boyfriend Colt Lawhon saw him entering Gander Mountain. Emily had just taken a photo of Federal Premium Black Cloud shotgun shells with Phil’s picture on it.

“We were walking up to the checkout, and (Willie) walked in,” Emily said. “I was in shock. It’s my favorite show. ...

“I basically attacked him. I really didn’t (but) I asked if we could take a picture with him. I just remember shaking his hand. I was so in awe.”

She doesn’t remember being able to speak, but Emily shared Rhonda’s assertion that Willie was pleasant, and accommodating. After Emily and Colt took pictures with Willie, employees started lining up, she said.

Rhonda was able to muster up a conversation. Willie and his contingent were in the area to go hunting, and was looking for a famous big box retailer to pick up a few items.

“But he said they came across (Gander Mountain) first and were excited, because it was better,” said Rhonda, who also met Frank Fritz of History Channel’s “American Pickers” when that show filmed here earlier this year.

This meeting was more about chance, she said.

“It was perfect timing,” Rhonda said.

And they still made the movie.


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