Originally Posted by peterjay
I'm not sure I've ever been in a "great" fly shop. The ones I've visited have ranged from very good to disgraceful. They all seem to have deficiencies of one kind or another, (what doesn't? nobody can afford to carry everything) but the shops that make up for it with a high comfort level for the customer are the ones I'll go out of my way to patronize. IME, a lot of shops hire people whose main qualifications are that they fish and tie flies, regardless of their ability to deal with the public in a pleasant and respectful manner. Judging from the responses in this thread, I'd say it's obvious that others have had similar experiences. In an age where it's possible to have virtually anything delivered to your door in a few days, B&M shops have to offer the customer something he won't find online. That is, friendly service and valuable information. Answering questions with a grunt or withholding local information is a surefire way for the place to join the long list of shops that have gone under. Nobody expects an employee to "burn" his favorite fishing spots, but a little help isn't too much to ask for, particularly if the customer is obviously C&R oriented. (it's not hard to tell) There are no fly shops here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, which isn't a huge problem in this day and age, but I really miss being able to pick up a few materials on the spot and shooting the breeze with fellow flyrodders. Paying a little extra for materials isn't really an issue as long as the experience is pleasant and helpful. The less said about the big box outlets the better. I've gotten better service at Walmart than I've gotten in most of them.
I agree with almost all of this. I am lucky because one of the few shops I would call great is also my "local" shop about an hour away. If you a spey person then very few shops can match the Red Shed in Peck, ID. Top of the line everything and Poppy is "the man." Nothing like having a few hours to kill and heading down there to bs with him. Definitely a great shop for us spey guys.