Re: What Makes a Great Fly-Shop?
My favorite shop has the cheaper brands. Pflueger, chinese knock offs and stuff like that. They also sell flies, boots, and tippet WAY cheaper than any other shop in the state. I think it's probably because they've been there forever and the overhead is low.
I don't make a ton of money doing what I do so I appreciate being able to buy quality stuff that won't bankrupt me. I got a reel for $50 that totally rocks and I was able to get it without the snotty attitude that some of the other shops give you.
But, the downside to that shop is that they don't have ANY high end stuff. I wanted one of those Simms zingers (the ones with the springy plasticy thing in that metal tube) and they didn't have one.
So, my ideal shop would have a nice selection of all the brands and price ranges. $20 vests to $200 vests. $50 reels all the way up to $400 reels. $20 nets all the way to $200 nets.
But... I was a manager at a music store for many years so I know that it is tricky to be an authorized dealer for every brand. Some brands wouldn't let you stock brand x if you already stocked brand y. Some brands made you "buy in" to get inventory. Like you had to buy $10,000 worth of stuff. And a lot of it just sits there chewing up inventory dollars. I don't know if it's the same for fishing gear but I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
I'll end on a story:
I used to shop at a fly shop that had a nice sale on flies every Thursday. They were really nice to me and helped me get what I needed to be successful on the river. But I only ever bought flies and fly boxes from them because the rods, reels, boots, etc were WAY too expensive for me. But I felt like I was loyal and I bought several hundred dollars worth of flies from them.
The other day, on my way home from a particularly messy day at work (I was unshaven, messy clothes, looking like I'd worked hard all day) I went in because I was in the neighborhood and they always sold this one particular caddis pattern that I couldn't find anywhere else. So I went in there and the guy behind the counter (who I'd never seen before) said, "can I help you?" I said I knew what I was after and went to where those caddis patterns usually live. But I didn't see them so I said, "Where are the caddis patterns?" The guy behind the counter huffed a little and came over and said in the most syrupy, condescending way, "These are caddis, these are stoneflys, these are midges..." I said, "Yeah... I know what they are. You had a bunch of caddis here before and there's one that I like that I don't see." He said, "What you see is what we have. I don't know what you're talking about." So I walked out and I'll honestly probably never return.
One bad experience stands out above EVERY good experience. Remember, some of your most loyal customers are not the ones buying Orvis and Simms. The most dedicated anglers are out there busting up cheap boots and waders, carrying 2 mid level rods and reels with a box full of affordable flies. Treat the guy in overalls with the same respect as the guy in the business suit. Have a fly tying night, have some great sales... build up a community of people that will only go to YOUR store.
That's the secret of success... in my opinion for whatever that's worth.