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Old 11-10-2003, 09:58 PM
flytyer flytyer is offline
Pullin' Thread
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: NW Washington
Posts: 3,346

The desire to stay in business is not greed. That said I must tell about a friend of mine who had a fly shop on the Olympic Peninsula. He sold only locally tied steelhead flies that were tied by myself (I tied 90% of them) and one other tyer (he tied 10% of them) for a period of 9 years.

He sold all the flies that we tied for him and at normal market prices while paying myself and the other tyer a fair price. Additionally, he would sell either of us (or the 3 folks he had tying trout flies for him) anything he had in his shop, or any item he could get for us at his actual wholesale cost (he was the only shop I ever dealt with over a 25 year period of tying commercial accounts that did this).

He had people travel as much as 8 hours just to buy steelhead flies he had in his shop. I tied and he sold as many as 20 dozen spey flies in a week at times. He also found that people would buy true low-water featherwings and pay a fair price for them in summer-fall. The shear quantity of steelhead flies he sold at times was nothing short of remarkable. I vividly remember one day going into his shop with 20 dozen spey flies and having 3 customers who were in the shop buy 9 dozen of them immediately. And as he was ringing up these sales, he got a call from a customer who lived 4 hours away inquiring about spey flies and he sold the other 11 dozen to him.

The towns on the Olympic Peninsula are blue collar, small towns that are a long way from the city. What the owner of this shop found was that people would pay a little more for quality, well-tied. well-proportioned flies because they held up better and caught more fish. He was surprised at the how many of the local folks would keep coming back for the locally tied flies because they nearly always bought low to mid-priced rods and other equipment. Interestingly, when he began taking some of the his end rods outside for casting demos or lessons, many of the locals decided that the expensive rods were worth saving for and they bought them.

I don't think his exerience is unique nor unusual. He took the chance to sell flies at a smaller margin (he gave the tyers 60% of retail for them) and at a slightly higher price than the imported ones. He found that his customers not only bought them in the same numbers they had bought the imported flies in, they actually bought more flies because he had flies they could not find in catalogs. And his customers told others about the flies who then bought them resulting in their telling others, etc.

The biggest complaint I have heard about the steelhead flies found in shops is they are poorly proportioned and poorly tied.

Sorry about taking this thread off in a new direction.