Are the shops our friends? - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 08-20-2002, 02:51 PM
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Are the shops our friends?

Maybe this is just a personal rant or maybe something others might agree with. Here goes either way. I am curious if the board feels we are better off with or without local fly shops. I ask this question because of a couple of recent happenings and conversations.

First, a local shop manager went on for some time to me about the evils of e-bay and how it is killing his rod sales business. His comment was that now people buy and sell rods on e-bay and nobody pays full price to him anymore. My reply was can you blame them? With a new premium rod running between $500 and $800, and e-bay offering the expectation of being able to buy or sell the same for around half, it is hard to be loyal to the local guy.

Interestingly enough, I had this same conversation with an Oregon shop owner a couple years ago only this time the evil menace was the Internet. He claimed that webshops were driving him out of business. This was a curious admission as I had just purchased an used demo spey rod from him via a web classifieds board.

There can be little doubt that one of the only perks for the experienced shopper is the ability to go get it NOW. For things you don't mind waiting for, the web is most often the cheaper way to go.

Having said all the above, I do believe in loyalty to my local (or non-local) shops. I will admit though for large ticket items, I can be convinced to ignore this loyalty. Case in point, I was recently looking to purchase a 4" Hardy Bougle`. The local shop I do most of my business with had it for $385 + tax. A little research and I picked it up from a well known BC shop for $262 US incl. shipping and backing. Was I disloyal, I don't think so.

Now to the real bitch with some shops. This does not apply to all but is common enough to be more than an anomaly. I refer to the pushing of their product while bad mouthing brands they don't carry. I know that to a degree this is sales but it csan be taken too far. Case in point, I had a conversation with a local shop manager a couple of years ago. I knew his company had carried Scott rods for years until they dropped them in a huff over Scott marketing their rods through REI. At the time I was interested in the Scott 1509/4 ARC and asked what he thought of it. I was treated with a 5 minute lecture on what a piece of junk it was and how the 9150 Sage was superior in every way. (For what its worth, I have since spent considerable time with both rods and I agree for my style of casting.) Fast forward a couple of years and this store is now carrying Scott rods again. Imagine my surprise when I start hearing how this same person is now singing the praises of the Scott 1509. "The best rod he has ever cast." Sorry but forgive me, in my mind, he is simply a whore. Nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, a story out of a local store from a week ago. Let me preface this by saying that a staff member there has been very vocal about guarding access to a small river in the Seattle area. There has been a lot of talk against a local guide for taking groups of clients into this fairly unknown drainage. Much of the trash talking against the guide came out of this shop. ( I don't know if anyone other than myself and a couple others on the board here ever took the time to complain to the guide in question or not but lots were talking behind his back.) There was even talk of recruiting people to go up and interupt the guides teaching. Come on people, tell him you don't like him guiding there but to disrupt his business? How would you like it if I came to your shop and started telling customers that they shouldn't shop there as you were not doing what was best for the resource? Hmmm, that is an idea.

Anyway, back to my rant. Imagine my surprise when a close friend told me he was fishing this small river last week and had a father and son wade across the tail-out he was fishing. When they came up to talk to him, he explained that it was bad manners to cross through someone's run. They said they were sorry and then said they were from California and had never fished up there before. They had been in a local shop and one of the staff had told them they had to head up to the XXXXXXX as there were lots of steelhead to be had. When my friend inquired what shop and who had told them, yep you guessed it, the same shop and person who had been trash talking against the guide.
Shame on you!

So I ask you all, would we, and the resource, be better off without local shops? I have to think that in the case of at least a few, the answer is yes.

(vacating soapbox)

Last edited by sinktip; 08-20-2002 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 08-20-2002, 03:40 PM
beau purvis beau purvis is offline
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local shops

i quess it depends on the shop and the idividual experience. i had a shop stop selling patagonia because they started selling at rei. however they did not badmouth the products. just said they no longer were a specialty product where they could offer an edge or semi monopoly. still liked the product.i dont resent that type of approach.
I feel that if a shop offers some level of advice or service i should pay them back by giving them business.over the yrs i have seen lots of people pump guys at local shops for advice and expertise and then go buy their recomends elsewhere. i dont think that is right. we owe something for that service.provided it is good .
now, when a shop has great special unigue products that you can touch and feel,plus good advice,its a no brainer that we need them. and those places do exist. the shop mentioned above in regards to patagonia gave his simms rainjacket to my son to borrow for a week on the Dean in case it rained .he did not want me to spend a lot of money for a week , when he might not even need it, especially if he ended up not liking steelheading. he also let me borrow a spey rod for the tripand a pontoon boat for a few days on the local rivers.he took us out fishing on some saltwater beaches and did not charge thats what i call service. as a result i am pretty loyal to him when his selection enables loyalty. now if he doesnt have what i want that is a different story.i go where the best gaulity products are located. beau
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Old 08-20-2002, 03:59 PM
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Doublespey Doublespey is offline
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Red face Welcome to the Business of Flyfishing

Knowing all the "players" in this little drama (except the Californians), I can only reply with tired

Those guys have been ratting out that river for quite a few years. I knew about it before, but never was motivated to fish it until someone they told convinced me to give it a look-see a few years ago.

Seems everybody hates it when Someone Else exploits a resource in a way they could have (but didn't). I can name more than a few other shops that wish XYZ flyshop would quit their chatter, too. Yet they all have their "spots" that they give away to their own customers.

There's plenty of water out there, and as many of us know there's no guarantee of Steelhead no matter where you go. In fact, the hot reports of late come from a river much closer to Seattle that the one referred to above.

I believe it when I'm friends with the person away from the shop. That's about the only time you can be reasonably assured of a non-commercial opinion.

Do I think we need Local Flyshops? Absolutely!! They provide classes, advice, and instruction to beginners and supplies to the rest of us. Do I believe their advice?? Not always - I factor in that they are indeed representing their products and will always give them a favorable spin.

That being said, I DO find it offensive when they're blatant about hyping a product I know to be a piece of %#X#.

In this particular case, it's IMHO more about the extroverted, opinonated, and combative natures of the guide and the shop manager (who haven't liked each other for a long time) than it is about a river.

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Old 08-20-2002, 04:22 PM
KerryS KerryS is offline
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I buy stuff from local merchants as often as possible. These people are my neighbors and friends and I will support them over ebay or internet shopping or big mega everything department chain store every time. I make enough money that the 1 rod a year I might buy I can afford to help my neighbor make a living. I do not think it has anything to do with whether he gives me good information or whether he has the best deal around. I do not live in megatropolis either so maybe that is why I see things a little different.
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Old 08-20-2002, 04:29 PM
jetsled jetsled is offline
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I agree with Kerry, I hate to admit that. I have been to his local fly shop, what a dive.
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Old 08-20-2002, 04:34 PM
Eddie Eddie is offline
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Do we need local shops? Of course we do. They are a tremendouse resourse. When e-bay can teach you to tie a Bimini loop, an internet shop can tell you where to put your canoe in, and a catgalogue can help fix you tailing loop, the local shop might be obsolete.
If you don't like the local guy, don't go there. Ever.
If they "charge too much", don't go there. Ever.
But, if you still go to the shop, and compare reels, pick up information, and then shop on e-bay, then you are as bad as they are.
I suspect that you would agree and you were just venting because of the hypocracy of the local guy.
One cast can change your day...maybe your life.
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Old 08-20-2002, 06:06 PM
watersprite watersprite is offline
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I'm sure I know of the shop which Kerry refers to and I will never do business there again. When I have to go to the manufacturer for resolution of problems the local shop should have dealt with then he loses any chance of selling me anything further. It's called service after the sale. His loss, sales of: (3) rods, (3) reels, (5) fly lines, tying vise and mucho tying material over the past year. Shop owner, you want my business then, take your smart*** crap elsewhere.

Now if I need something, today, I will travel the extra miles to Bellingham. If I can wait awhile, I shop my "local" shop in Welches, Oregon.

And yes, this one is a heater... I'm still p***ed off.


P.S. I forgot, more of his loss sales: several pairs of waders, wading boots, vests, (10) fly boxes, various tools...

Last edited by watersprite; 08-20-2002 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 08-20-2002, 06:41 PM
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sinktip sinktip is offline
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I suspect that you would agree and you were just venting because of the hypocracy of the local guy.
Without a doubt this is somewhat true. I have long been fed up with this "prostitute to the mighty dollar" and will likely never sit foot in his shop again. It is unfair to lump him in with all shops though.

In this particular case, it's IMHO more about the extroverted, opinonated, and combative natures of the guide and the shop manager (who haven't liked each other for a long time) than it is about a river.
DS, you are right that there is that personal factor to this example but I only threw in the examples in to illustrate the cons of some local shops. There are many pros as well and some have been mentioned in the replies to my post.

I am not against local shops but have been thinking that with the changing business climates, i.e. the internet, ebay, etc, the days of the local shop might be numbered. When you look around, the ones who seem to be prospering are the ones that offer great customer service and some web presence. Maybe it is a case of change or perish.
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Old 08-20-2002, 07:00 PM
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"When you look around, the ones who seem to be prospering are the ones that offer great customer service and some web presence. Maybe it is a case of change or perish."

You are right on Sinktip. I think the days of the 50% markup at flyshops and never having sales are numbered. Local shops are just not going to be able to justify how much they charge forever.

I think the internet age has killed the monopoly they once had over the buying public and those who have adapted are still doing quite well.

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Old 08-20-2002, 07:35 PM
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My local fly shop owner here in Chicago told me the same thing that the internet sales were really hurting him on the big ticket rods and reels. He carrys Sage, Orvis etc top of the line stuff and his prices are high.

I buy all of my fly tying products from them but any big ticket items like rods and reels I would go to the internet, like I did for a spey rod in the spring.

I guess he was selling over the net and he said every one came back saying they could get the items cheaper else where and wanted him to come down in price. He said he got tired of it and stopped selling over the net.

Need the local shops but I can see where they are getting squeezed by the internet competition.
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Old 08-20-2002, 08:01 PM
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juro juro is offline
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When I sell something on the internet it's ALWAYS to go to my favorite shops to buy more brand spankin' new equipment! In fact, if I can't "move" my old gear I am significantly less likely to buy anything new. So in my case, the internet sales increases my buying activity in local shops. I noticed that a lot here in the Forum too. I bet reality is that the exchange of used gear to prompt new gear purchases is of huge value to manufacturers and retailers alike.

On the topic of good verses bad shops, they are just that - good or bad. Furthermore, some shops have good workers and bad workers - in the same shop! In a few cases I could cite (but won't) the departure or arrival of a single individual makes or breaks the shop!

Half of the equation is the consumer - if the majority of consumers are not savvy, then the business will cater to dummies. If the majority is very savvy, then they might have little patience for the uninitiated. So I think it's tough to judge our friendly neighborhood flyshops without giving them a lot of consideration for the dynamics of the whole business. It is, in the end, just a business. Our ideals for flyfishing don't always mesh with the cutthroat principles of good business, with all due respect to Ray Troll.

Frankly, I like the simple act of visiting flyshops, like my wife likes to visit shops or like my son likes to visit the videogame store. I also like to spread the wealth, visiting shops just because. I like the experience of letting my mind spin over the possibilities of a good materials section. One shop has a tiny fly section but the hackles are great because no one has culled the good ones. Another has everything under the sun, but is a 90 minute drive one way, something for winter weekends. Another saves my day when we do the Xmas shopping run to that area. Yet another has total crap on the shelves but in the bargain bin lie a half dozen $10 dusty shooting heads that provide 5-10 years worth of custom sinktips.

But to everyone's point, there are flyshops out there that are best avoided. When I visit these shops I am there only for their inventory, not their company.

On the other hand, I love some shops so much I go for the company, and might only walk out with a pack of this or a spool of that after being there for 2 hours. I would much rather give my hard earned dineros to a fly shop I like, and these shops are where I make my major purchases.
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Old 08-20-2002, 09:52 PM
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loco_alto loco_alto is offline
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you've started a thread here on a topic that has swirled in my mind for the past few days. I'd be curious to know how much of a flyshop's income is derived from classes and guided trips vs. minor expenses of tying items and tippet, vs. more sizable expenses of waders, rods, and reels. The reason that I ask is this - my local shop sees fit to charge $3 for the exact same tying material that costs $2 everywhere else, including in the next town over. So I stopped buying my tying supplies there.

Just the other day I (stupidly and hurriedly) paid $8 for a pair of Simms wading laces with a suggested retail of $2. Now that one took the cake, and took me! The service at said local shop isn't any better than any other shop within an hour drive (and we all drive places for other reasons - what better reason to stop than a fly shop?) yet they manage to stay in business while overcharging idiots like yours truly.

I rarely buy rods or reels because of new hype from the fly shop, though while they are heavy on it, my favored reels are no longer in production, and my favored rods are (mostly) already in grasp.

But, if/when the time comes to buy a new rod or reel, it ain't gonna be at the place that nickel and dimes me on everything else. that's fo sho.

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Old 08-20-2002, 11:41 PM
Eddie Eddie is offline
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With regards to MSRP. If a shop charges more, it is at their peril, call them on it. If they charge less...they probably won't be around for long.
A CA owner of one of the top shops(retail, online, and catalogue) in the country figures that after all expenses are tallied, he makes about 13% margin on hardware. Sure, at the begining it is a 30-50%, but after the overhead the profit gets eaten up quickly. I think that the volume of the sales just aren't that great for even the biggest shops. At least not when compared to a clothing store(Prada in NY grosses 75G a day) or grocery store(typical Safeway makes over 30G a day). I would bet that this guy averages around four thousand a day(maybe less for just gear and flies). That's pretty good money, but there are only a few that are doing as well as he is.
A small shop that gives you a fly line, or a discount on current gear is basicly giving you their profit. That is very generouse, but the owner probably doesn't need to make more than 40 grand a year. The classic pattern goes like this: A guy loves fishing and wants to share his love while making a living. He opens a shop. He works hard and doesn't seem to be making much money. He doesn't get to fish much and he gets crabby. Now he makes even less money, and goes out of business. Everyone who has been fishing for more than five years has seen it happen.
I guesse my point is that most shops aren't making a ton of dough. Most shops help begginners get into the sport. Most shops are in it because the owners and employees(making 7 bucks an hour) love fishing and like to share their passion. If they charge a dollar more for a bucktail, and they are a good shop, who's nickle and diming? If they spend a half an hour showing you a few reels, and then let you cast a few rods, is that worth anything? What is the guy discounting on e-bay doing for anyone. He's a small shop owner trying to clear inventory so he can order this years gear without saturating his local market. He's barely making it.
My local shops really helped me out when I was first starting, and they still do. That's worth something to me.
Yeah, I worked in a shop and I'm forever scarred.
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Old 08-21-2002, 01:02 AM
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Interesting Topic

But I have my thoughts on this one. First off, alot of fly shops (at least the ones in South Puget Sound) will eyeball you when you walk into the shop. And since most of these guys are fly only guys, and knowing I'm a gear/fly guy, I get a snub nose to alot of times. For myself, I've gained ZERO knowledge from a flyshop, in fact ANY tackle shop. I guess I was blessed that I learned to fish extremely young from someone who grew up before you ever saw a true "sportsman" shop. My Dad (and Granddad) used to buy their sporting goods at the local hardware store. We made all our own gear, and used to buy from Schoffs since they had all we needed. But funny thing of all, and even to this day, I seem to give the SHOPS more info then they give me. I fish only a few rivers RELIGIOUSLY, and know them stone for stone. I know when to fish, how to fish, and where to fish. Do I connect all the time? No, if I did I'd be a God. But I do quite well for the amount of hours I am able to put in nowadays.

I know I ran off a bit. But I had a question. Do most of you guys who "have recieved info" from these fly shops new to the sport? I mean this seriously. Normally if I have had questions, I have (or shall I say had since most of them are dead now) consulted some of my Dad's old fishing buddies who fly fish. So I can honestly say I've learned nothing from a flyshop tying flies or using my gear.

Now, onto buying all your supplies at a flyshop. I've found that you can buy alot of your tying supplies cheaper from somewhere else. Very rarely do I ever buy from a flyshop unless I'm desperate. There is no such thing as "loyalty" to a shop, unless this shop literally got you started out and put you into your first fish. In that case, I owe my first gear to an old Pay N Pak where I bought my ABU 5001c and Fenwick 85c I used for driftfishing I bought back in around 79' (my first outfit I bought myself). But alot of stuff they sell can be found much cheaper in places you least expect. For example, if I was to be "loyal" to a fly shop, I could buy some pearlescent green ribbing for $5 for 5' at local fly shop (supplied by Orvis). I can be the EXACT (and yes, I've checked to see) ribbing at Michaels for $3 for 100 yards. Hmmm, a lifetime supply for $2 cheaper. Same thing for alot of stuff at different places. They need to make a buck, but should you waste the money you make to pay their salaries (that's if you OWE THEM for your success I guess). I make pretty damned good money for having a blue collar job. But I work damned hard for my paycheck and don't want to blow my $$$ overpaying for something to be "loyal". There are times to splurge, but those who KEEP their money are the ones who know how to shop. I personally am out there to fish. I'd rather take the money I've saved (which is QUITE alot) to buy things for my kids. And as for ebay, it's just another sales place. Why do you think so many shops are selling online (yes, there are flyshops who sell online, and one of them is in Lynnwood, have bought a sparespool from them OFF ebay). Like Juro, I've sold stuff to buy more stuff. But normally I've sold off used to buy someone elses used rod (which is an upgrade for me) and the person I bought rod from bought new at a flyshop. The old circle of life scenerio. Money is going somewhere, just be glad it's going into the economies around here (well mostly). I've made some hellacious deals on ebay. I just scored a bunch of fly tying supplies for $12 (over $120 worth of NEW in package chenilles, quills, and misc all stuff I use). I'm sorry, but if you're gonna pass up a deal because it's not "helping" local business, then call me and let me know about deal. I'll gladly buy it.

I know I'll get flack on this one, but give me a break. I've watched WAY too much bad info at too many shops to give that devotion. I guess if I had an unlimited supply of cash, I'd throw it away too, but I prefer to help my family first. I'm just silly that way.
"Good angling ethic is not a monopoly practiced just by fly fisherman" - Bill McMillan
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Old 08-21-2002, 02:27 AM
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NrthFrk16 NrthFrk16 is offline
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Should I or Shoult I Not

I wasn't thinking about entering this fracus as it seems that my opinion maybe a little biased but I must admit that what local shops provide far outweighs any of their so-called cons.

I dont see any chain stores nor do I see Ebay supporting local consveration efforts or local charities. Last time I checked I did not see one of these outfits donate their space for meetings nor did I see one of these outfits donate juvenille trout for a very popular lake.

When was the last time a local chain store or Ebay put on FREE flytying clinics with some of the well-known world renowned tiers...when was the last time you saw a chain store or Ebay give a casting lesson to group of school age children???

I can not go into Ebay or go into a chain store and cast as many rods as I would like to decide which is best for me. And for those that use a shop's resources to decide what rod is best for them then buy it online...shame on you. You are the same dirty w-word the Sinktip used.

I have over the years lent out my own personell rods, reels, pontoon old co-worker of mine even went as far as to loan his driftbaot oars to one customer and the entire boat to another (at differnt times).

I have also shown favorite flies, favorite runs, favorite techniques etc. that I would never advertise to the masses or publish to say an out of towner that has a few hours to fish. It brings me great satisfaction to get a phone call or an email from some out-of-towner who is estatic because he just caught his first steelhead...or caught 20 trout here or 10 silvers here. And in my opinion, the resource is better of for it. They left nothing but some footprints and some sore-lipped fish but leave with a better understanding of our fisheries and a desire to protect them.

Doublespey brought up an excellent point...fishermen are gossipers. It is what we do off the river and on. It is what we do on the Web, on the phone, inside of shops and outside of them. It is a very 'clicky' (sp?) sport...especially us steelheaders. Rumors and gossip travels like wildfire and always seem to end up even more unaccurate then the original accuisations...sort of like that game you played in school where you whispered a phrase into one kids ear, and he passed it on. By the time it got back to you it resembled nothing of the original statement.

Shops are VITAl to a healthy flyfishing community and are VITAl to healthy fisheries. Support Ebay and/or a discounter and you are NOT supporting a healthy flyfishing community and you are not supporting healthy fisheries as much as you would be if you were supporting your local shop.

But remember...that is a biased opinion.
Ryan S. Petzold
aka Sparkey and/or Special

Last edited by NrthFrk16; 08-21-2002 at 02:29 AM.
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