Being in Denver, I have a lot of 'local' shops as well as many shops in the areas I fish. That said, it's amazing how tough it can be to get to one. Between work and family, I find a lot of my 'shopping' time is in the evenings when shops are closed. Of course, Saturdays if I'm not busy with family stuff I prefer to be in the mountains on the water. Many (not all) of the shops in the mountains seemed geared towards guiding, with minimal tying stuff. Even with well stocked shops in town, a given shop will often not have all the tying stuff I'm looking for, so I have a couple online shops where I add stuff to my shopping basket over time, then periodically 'check-out'. That said, I try to frequent shops and pick up some items when I can.
Our most common angling related purchases are now from on-line sources. Due to the availability of some less than common items that we consume. Price plays a roll in some, but not all instances. While there are quite a few fly shops, from thirty minutes to two hours from our home. Most of the shops and staffs we feel drawn to, tend to be those further away.
The bulk of what we buy from brick & mortars today are fishing garments, eyewear, natural fly tying materials, rods and reel designs that we’re unfamiliar with.
You know, this forum has members from all over. When you make an on-line purchase from a fly shop, wherever it may be located. There's a fair chance that you're supporting a fly shop that others here also choose to support, be it near or far from their residence.
the next fly shop is around one hour drive from my home, so that I sometimes buy some smaller things in an online shop. But ususally I try to go to the shop to buy the things I need. I like and enjoy these interessting small talks with the owner or some other customers so that a visit in the fly shop is always a little "Fly Fishermen Event" for me - especially during the winter time
Several years ago we visted a very nice shop in Berlin and my wife and I bought a pair of Vosseler trout reels and some Stroft tippet material. I have subsequently e-mailed the owner and I fear he may have gone out of buisness.
I WISH there was a local fly shop. Bass Pro is a two hour drive (and honestly I was horrified at how little they actually had), Cabelas is at least 3 hours, Gander Mtn has almost nothing. The downside to ordering online, for me, is that I don't know exactly what it is I want. It would be nice to see it in person.
Fly fishing is going to be a life long sport for me and there is plenty of spending to go so why not spread it around?
A rod from Orvis online, then one from an Orvis store, then one from the local authorized dealer. All in all the local shop has given me the most help so I tend to buy from them...even if it costs me more.
Tying materials I get locally unless they just don't have it. Sometimes I just don't want to wait for it to come in the mail.
My nearest well-stocked shop is 160 miles. Minimal supplies 40 miles. I buy what I need "now" on-line, but try to "save" what I don't immediately need for a visit to a well-stocked shop when I travel to one, or on vacation. (Montana and Idaho have some GREAT ones when I fish there, in season.) Some things I'd rather see and touch before buying, and catalogs/internet doesn't do it for some things.
Its very tough to bypass the deals online....but consider this. Usually, unless you're buying new, the online difference is only 10-15% less...I know this can be significant with the high end stuff. We are facing a crisis in the U.S. with our economy. The large online businesses only need a fraction of the workforce to distribute their products that a more personal service shop would require. I do not live within an hour of any "real" fly shops, but I do make the trip about once a month.
Its hard to be altruistic while making your budget stretch....remember the old "buy american" line? I am guilty as anyone of pandering to foreign made products in the name of thriftiness, but just like with the foreign made products, we are only hurting ourselves in the long run with online businesses.
With that soap-box sermon, will I totally abandon my online bidding/selling? No, but then I am a hypocrit too. I want my cake and eat it too.
I have two fly shops locally, one of which is a large mail order company as well. they get about all my business. I also have bass pro and cabelas locally, they, well Cabelas, gets another chunk of my business. every now and then if I find a good deal online i'll buy it or see if the local shop will match it and generally he will.
I guess I'm lucky. I have 2 shops within 15 min of me (not including an LLBean outlet store) and another 5 to 10 within 40. Having said that, I do shop around for price. If Cabela's is having a good sale on something I was looking for (i.e 50% off a rod or reel), I'll mail order. Otherwise I usually get my stuff locally. It's good to be in fly fishing heaven .