How's your Fly Shop doing?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Steelie Mike, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. 1morecast Active Member

    Posts: 741
    Port Angeles
    Ratings: +47 / 0
    Kent is was the grizzley hackle.

    I agree with larry, the price of FF equipment is going through the roof!!
  2. pmjasper Member

    Posts: 51
    Palatine, IL
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    One thing that has not been mentioned is quantity discounts given by manufacturers to big box stores versus your local mom and pop shop.

    I had a good friend back in NJ who owned a local bait and tackle shop. He sold all your standard saltwater bait, lures, rigs, etc. but when it came to rods and reels, he just couldn't make any money. Reason is this....Cabelas contacts Orvis and says they need 10,000 Battenkill reels to cover all their stores. My guy calls up and says he needs 3. If they regularly retail for $75, Cabelas might get a quantity discount at $60 a piece, while my guy gets them for $75. Now Cabelas can turn around and sell each reel for $75 and make $15 on each reel while my guy has to raise the price just to make something out of the deal. Now Joe customer comes in and says how are you going to sell that reel for $80 or $85 dollars when Cabelas has it for $75???? The death of the small shop begins.

    I was brought up being taught that if you rely on a service, such as obtaining fishing information, then you should reward that service with business. I NEVER walked into a tackle or fly shop, asked a question or two about fishing and then have gone somewhere else to purchase the stuff. It's just not right in my book. When you frequent a smaller shop the benefit you should be getting is service. Some small shops get it right, others miss the boat completely, but overall I am willing to pay a little more for that service connected with a small shop. Just a month ago I contacted a local fly shop in Milwaukee to ask about what line might be appropriate for swinging flies on the Lake Michigan tributaries in the area. The owner, Pat Ehlers, specifically help develop a line to do such. He took the time to answer my questions and explain what setup he feels is most successful for what i am trying to accomplish. Therefore, I bought a spare spool for my reel, the line he suggested and a few other materials because I appreciated the service he provided. He even spooled the spare spool and added backing at no charge so I was ready to go when I received it. I could have gotten the gear a little cheaper and maybe a bit quicker (spool was out of stock), but the knowledge i took away from our conversations is something I felt should be rewarded.

    Now more than ever money is tight. I won't tell people not to look for the best prices out there. That being said, when you want to know what hatches are going off, what techniques have been producing or where might be your best bet to wet a line, I feel there is no better place than your local shop. All I'm saying is if you receive good service, reward it.
  3. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

    Posts: 472
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    the thing with stores like Cabelas is that they're constantly running promotion after promotion. For example, I recently saw that they were selling their Ross Evolution's for literally half the price. If I'm buying a Ross Evo, sure i'd like to inspect it, but i'd also liek to take my chances (you can always return it) and pay half the price without inspecting it.

    Likewise they are constantly runnign promo's for free shipping, 30$ off over $150 purchases, etc etc etc. Makes for a very tempting purchase.

    The whole deal with buying online is that now that so many stores are online and often running promotions, the incentive to buy from a local store diminishes more and more. Why pay $200 for something when you can get the same thing from another reputable online store for $50 less with free shipping promotion and a free hat to come with it?

    Let's face it, fly fishing is a very very niche industry. its a niche within a niche. It's a diminishing market, not because people aren't interested, but with the prices as high as it is, compared to spinning gear, its hard for peopel to really pick it up as a hobby.

    Take it from someone who is very much new to fly fishing but has watched the industry from the side lines for a couple years now. The price hike along with the pressure is ridiculously high. This is an industry where if you're not holding a sage rod and Simms waders, and a nice little fanny pack to go with it, you're not a legit fly fisher. I recently read an article in Field and Streams about Alaskan fly fishing where they advertise all the awesome expensive gear within the articles. While entertaining to read, extremely deterring to see the prices and an article where they make it seem like you NEED to have the gears to be legit. They do however mention how the locals often come rolling in with sweat pants on and such.

    Unlike spinning gear fishing there is a definite expensive/luxury image and culture that goes with fly fishing, whether you like it or not. It is an extremely glamorized sport. I'd say this was probably the biggest deterring factor before I actually looked into fly fishing.

    Its intimidating when a person like me thinks "man fly fishing sounds great, maybe i'll go check out some gear....HOLY SHIT $800 ROD, FUCK THAT" and sadly...$800 rods don't seem to be all that rare.

    that is just unheard of with spinning gear. The most expensive baitcaster I have is $170 with a Clarus rod (also considered very high quality) priced at $90...and thats often regarded as top of the line. You look at the average fly fishing reel, hovering just around 200$, its extremely difficult for a beginner to invest $200-300 on just a reel, not to mention the ridiculously high prices on a rod, on a sport they don't even know if they want to continue on with after the first month.

    Anyway, the point is, at some point, there has to be a company that contributes to the industry with a price point that won't scare the newcomers away. I think Orvis does a great job at this. Despite soem of their high price point equipment, they not only sell affordable rods and reels, they sell an image. You walk into an Orvis store and you feel like a fly fishing God. Along with a very well developed ecommerce site that has a strong focus on conversion optimization. Alot of the local stores have some catching up to do. Like someone else has stated - they're not business folks, they're people passionate about fly fishing. At some point, if they want to stay in business and compete, they have some catching up to do.

    I do what I can to support the local stores. Not because they have incredible deals but because I'm a people person and I like face to face interaction. I like learning from the people who are at the fore front of it all. But god damn it, they make it so hard for me to shop there when I can save so much money elsewhere!
  4. dryflylarry "Chasing Riseforms"

    Posts: 4,095
    Near the Fjord
    Ratings: +562 / 0
    OK. I take back a little bit of what I said about "greed" entering the market place. I think Orvis has come up with the right idea a bit by introducing the "Hydros" fly rods at around $500. Also, some of the other manufacturers have done similar, so you can still get a nice quality mid-road rod at a .... ah.... moderate price :D . Is that moderate.... hmmm. I think if the high end rods should go for around $500 tops, they would have many more sales! I started getting "lost in space" when all the manufacturers started introducing "new models" EVERY STINKING YEAR like snow skiing equipment. A good marketing game I guess. Not my cup of tea tho. It almost irritates me. Oh, we have a new model fly line this year! Technology improves, granted, but come on.... I bought a new hotshot fly line two years ago (I guess). The brand name starts with a "C" and has the numbers 555 in it. Well, after two seasons of use, it was cracked. I turned the double taper around to the unused part, it was cracked also!! I was peturbed, because my OLD fly lines never did that before. I was a little embarrassed to send it in, but I did, and the customer service was good and they replaced it.
    I guess this is a little off subject...oh well, it's raining and I can't fish with all that mud!!
  5. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,448
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,570 / 0
    Cool thread. I've wondered more than once how so many fly shops could exist in this region. Maybe the number is unsustainable and they can't.

    When I seriously got into fly fishing, there was one dedicated fly shop in Seattle, and three other sporting goods stores that carried some fly gear, Warshalls and Eddie Bauer downtown, and a store whose name I can't remember in the south end. That was it for the entire metro area. The next closest was also a general sporting goods store, Ted's in Lynnwood, then John's in Everett, none in Tacoma that I knew of, and a general sporting goods store with some fly stuff in Olympia.

    The fly fishing niche market grew with Avid in 1977, Kaufmann's in Bellevue around 1980, then downtown a few years later when the yuppie invasion of fly fishing was well under way. The proliferation continued with "the movie" in 1992. According to friends in the business, saturation and leveling of market growth began around 2003, depending on location and who you're talking to.

    That leads me to think Ive's post about niche markets, fads, and saturation is on the mark. While I appreciate Leland's remarks about growing the customer support base, and support the concept, I think there is also an intersection and collision of key elements to the equation. The human population base continues to grow, so the philosophy of perpetual growth in fly fishing appears possible from that angle alone. However, on the intersecting force is the finite supply of "places" to practice fly fishing. Most long time anglers already feel that the good spots have long been over-saturated with participants. The supply of good fly water is decreasing, not increasing, and there is precious little we can or will do about that.

    To meet the social need for a place to fish, locally we have designated a very mediocre stream CNR for its resident trout. WDFW is proposing to designate a very mediocre small lake year round CNR for stocked trout and self sustaining spiny rays, and it's getting some opposition because every lake is some meat fisherman's favorite. These waters are very likely the future of fly fishing in WA, and they are not high quality waters, but they are places where the burgeoning human population that is hell bent of fly fishing, can use it's multi-thousand dollar sporting goods investment to CNR sizeable hatchery trout and 8" wild cutthroat. It's a crossroads of supply and demand that the fly fishing industry is merely a symptom of. The industry is sustainable, but more likely than not, not at its present level. So some shops and manufacturers won't survive. And no matter what the human demand might rise to, the decreasing relative supply of suitable fly fishing water will exert some limits to the growth of the sport in the same way that shrinking wildlife habitat and changing public attitudes and preferences are shrinking the interest in hunting on the national scale.

    It will balance out. Of that I'm sure. But I think the balance will be with fewer shops serving whatever the sustainable customer base ends up being that can or will tolerate the available supply of quality and mediocre fly fishing experiences, because we won't all travel out of state and out of country to fish all the time.

  6. martyg Active Member

    Posts: 980
    The world at large
    Ratings: +74 / 0
    Your math and premise are way off.
  7. gt Active Member

    Posts: 2,616
    sequim, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    i don't think there is a definitive answer to the original question. there are way too many ball in the air to fully appreciate why one business is still going good and another shut down.

    when i got seriously started, there was only mcneese's in salem,or. dave was an artist, crazy wader, and knowledgable dude in all things steel. his shop was small, carried the essential materials that dave thought were the most important, he would happily tell you all about that, and sage rod blanks that he made up into works of art. dave made a serious mistake way back when and poof.

    kaufmans was a pretty folksy place on pacific ave in tigard, or. randall was always there up front passing out the B.S. many folks you run into working at other establishments actually got a start courtesy of randall. but he wanted to fish and do other stuff so lance bought him out and changed the character and nature of the total business. folksy went in the dumpster and high end marketing took over. another business decision you can scratch yur head about.

    waters west continues to survive, how i don't know, but dave is in many, many ways just like mcneese, an artist. the materials that are in his shop are astonishing and many of them were hand died by dave himself, just as mcneese used to turn out eye popping products. i only shop there, stop in often to say howdy, swap fishing stories with dave and curt and sort through their stuff to see what else i really don't need :)

    hopefully they will make it through this continuing economic mess and come out at the end of the next couple of years still in business.

    costs? when you price fix, you get astronomical costs, period. all the major brands are involved with this and it takes real guts to stand up to'um, and few do so. it reminds me of my long departed father who worked in a downtown chicago camera store in the 50s. at that time they were THE place to shop in the lower 48. leica, nikon, cannon, and all the rest were price fixing. mr altman called the employees together and told um to move the inventory he was tired of dusting it off. you can imagine the uproar from all the major mfg's as their pricing policies were challenged. what happened is an increase in the bottom line for the mfg and the retailer, surprise, surprise.

    but it takes balls to do this sort of challenging as well as pretty deep pockets, something the small fly shops really don't have. as usual, the market will sort itself out, the major price fixers will start to see their profits dropping and hopefully the small retailer's will survive.

    cabala's??? what a joke of a store. now if you are after bass, they are the bomb. other than that they have virtually nothing of interest to the PNW fishing community. i have zero need to ever stop there again, a total waste of time.
  8. pmjasper Member

    Posts: 51
    Palatine, IL
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Really Marty G???

    Please explain because, while it may be different in some venues, I saw directly what Penn fishing reels did to the small shop owner I knew back in NJ. He WAS charged a "full" price for the reels he purchased because he only bought 10 at most, while their representative, directly at Penn, told him that there were quantity discounts offered, particularly to larger shops that ordered in "bulk".

    Again, I'm not saying that you don't have some other credible information, but rather than just saying I'm off base, please expound on your information. Thanks.
  9. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

    Posts: 472
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    pmjasper is right. I did some ecommerce development for awhile and saw the price differences for small runs vs large runs.
  10. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,298
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +597 / 0
    Standard discounts on tackle and fly reels start around 40%. If your friend was a legit brick and mortar shop, he wasn't being charged full price.
  11. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

    Posts: 472
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    of course it wasnt full price...he means full cost price. pmjasper is simply stating that a major store like Cabelas, when they order hundreds of one model, their cost price per item is cheaper than say Joe Mom and Pop shop that orders just 10.

    Is this really a debatable issue? I thought it was quite obvious how retail works. I used to work for a pretty well known clothing company back in the days...we'd charge more per pair of jeans to small boutiques since they only buy 15 pairs as opposed to Nordstroms who buys hundreds at a time.
  12. Flyborg Active Member

    Posts: 2,298
    Kalama, WA
    Ratings: +597 / 0
    Look at his math. He's stating the shop paid full retail.
  13. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

    Posts: 472
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    he may have gotten his terminology wrong but the point was pretty clear.
  14. mmarcus steelhead chaser

    Posts: 32
    Portland, OR.
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I did my part yesterday by buying some materials and a couple flies. We will never get the same camaraderie and service if our fly shops close. Get out and do your part.
  15. Kirk Singleton Capt Kirk

    Posts: 673
    Sammamish, WA
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I think that the fixed pricing structure that the rod companies use has really hurt the retailer. My income is down the last few years as well as others, I still by equipment and accessories but I need to wach how I spend. It is hard for me to buy a new rod from the shop for $700+- when I can get a new one on ebay for $400. I still buy the top of the line but I look for a discount when I can. What really chaps me is the amount of people that get pro deals or friend deals out of the Factory rep, but the prices are "fixed" for the rest of us :-( They should just allow the shops to have a sale once in a while like all the rest of the stores. How much X-mas shopping would happen at Nordstrom, Best Buy, Target etc if nothing went on sale? People would go other places. That said...I do support the local shops a lot. I probably spent $1000 last month alone on a new rain jacket and gear for steelhead. The local knowledge you get is invaluable. BUT I am still able to get info on a TV at Magnolia even thouth they have a sale for the hollidays. It is a shame that we are in this situation but in my opinion, the industry manufactor has stuck it to the retailer.
  16. HauntedByWaters Active Member

    Posts: 2,744
    Ratings: +103 / 0
    Well my buddies and I could never and would never pay for a fancy trip to Alaska and yet we sport all that fancy gear.


    Because it is the best quality and is built to last.

    Your thinking is based on the experience of a guy who is merely interested in fly fishing. If you get deeper into it and start meeting people, you will realize that many of us fly folks are passionate about this and will be doing it until we die. If it is what you do with all your free time, you are doing yourself a favor by buying quality stuff. You actually save money in the long run.
  17. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

    Posts: 7,135
    Not sure
    Ratings: +1,223 / 0
    No debate whatsoever! Of course you're exactly right - larger stores order more product which means they qualify for deeper discounts from the manufacturers whose products they sell.

    The problem with the MSRP fixed pricing model is that all stores who offer protected products have to sell them for the same price (there are exceptions, but that's the general rule*.) This penalizes smaller shops since their profit margin (the difference between their 'wholesale' cost and the fixed retail price) is thus smaller. So the bigger stores make a higher margin due to their lower wholesale cost while selling the product at the same retail price as the small shops.

    The big get bigger while the small struggle to remain alive. It's a modern twist on survival of the fittest, just like Darwin predicted!

    * It's obviously in a manufacturer's best interests for all their retail outlets to maintain MSRP pricing. However, since they make the rules, they can also choose when, if ever, to break them.

    One example might be when Sage recently decided to reissue their XP rod line, but only offer it through Cabelas. Since nobody else could sell that line, Sage presumably negotiated with Cabelas to set a retail price that may or may not have been the same as when the line was offered by all shops several years ago. Since there were no other XPs available for sale anywhere else, there was no contradiction in pricing between various competing outlets.

  18. pmjasper Member

    Posts: 51
    Palatine, IL
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Correct guys....maybe my terminology was wrong but the point I was trying to make is that Peen Reels charged my buddy "X" price, which was not necessarily the "retail" price but it wasn't that far off from there. In comparison, their own representative explained to him that larger stores like Dicks Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops, Cabelas, etc., who order thousands of reels, would get a larger "discount" because of the quantity they reached in their agreement. Therefore, just as an example and not an actual price, if Cabelas charged $50 for a reel and made a small profit off of each sale, my buddy needed to sell the reel for $55 or $60 to have a similar profit. He did own a legit bait and tackle store, registered in the state of NJ, with all the proper paperwork filed. Now I will say that perhaps this was just Penn Reels that constructed this pricing schedule based on quantity, but I doubt that they are the only manufacture doing that. Common sense states that if you have a large outfitter who sets an agreement in place to purchase a large number of rods, reels, etc. at a somewhat reduced rate they might get a better overall price on the items as opposed to the guy who is just buying 10 each year.

    Again, I want to be clear that this may not be the case with every vendor but it was the case with my buddy and Penn Reels and I do believe that that certainly has some effect on pricing at smaller shops versus the big box stores. That's all I was saying.
  19. NomDeTrout Fly Guy Eat Pie

    Posts: 472
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I don't doubt that it is the best quality and is built to last (for the most part). I buy quality gear myself, I've spent thousands on gear thats built to last. My issue is not with that, my issue is that regardless of experience level or amount of interest you have, you are expected to look the part with all the proper equipment. So when Joe Schmo that is interested in fly fishing walks into a fly shop and see's all the cool gear, he's in heaven...then he sees the price tags and he's in hell, but everywhere he looks indicates that a true fly fisherman looks like this - *insert picture of guy decked out with Sage rod, Simms waders, boots, etc etc etc* Sadly Joe Schmo will never be able to look the part because of his finances, thus Joe Schmo goes home and picks up a WalMart spinning setup and goes fishing in his sweatpants and sneakers.

    Sure there are plenty of fly fisherman who still hold tightly onto their cheapo fly reel and rod that they've been using for decades, but for the most part, fly fishing is a very much glamorized and expensive sport.

    The point is that it seems with the prices where they are, it's tough to gain new comers.

    My thinking is based on a guy who merely interested in fly fishing but has been fishing gear just as long as you have been fly fishing and who knows, may or may not until i die. Perhaps I'll switch full time to fly fishing at some point but the point I was getting at is that the whole industry of fly fishing is inflated quite a bit as far as cost goes, and it is quite deterring to a lot of newbies who want to learn fly fishing. Perhaps my perspective on this might not sound credible since I'm not a fly fisherman, but just think, its a perspective from the outsider who has many friends who are gear fishermen who think likewise. This deterring factor is what took me over 2 years to actually pick up a fly setup. It is very intimidating.
  20. Don Barton Member

    Posts: 215
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I support local fly shops when ever I can. Their most valuable commodity is ADVICE. They don't charge for it so I feel I must buy something to say thanks. I have no need for new rods or reels but I don't tie my own flies so I can always drop $20 to $50 on flies or leaders, or ....... I generally know which shop personnel are active in which fisheries.

    I have been affected by the economy as much as most of you. So I have fished less this year than last and have tired to fish more economically. This thread caused me to think of the number of stores I have patronized in the last year and why.
    • The second story fly shop in Port Townsend where I bought a Les Johnson book because the owner talked me out of buying a certain nipper because he taught me how to sharpen the one I already owned. I was just browsing and my wife shopping
    • Puget Sound Fly Fishing because I had heard excellent reports and had never been there before and I was near. They talked me out of buying a new Simms staff because I could get warranty support to replace my old one. They were right. I bought steelhead flies and poly leaders instead
    • Creekside in Issaquah and downtown because they featured a speaker on the Smith River and I appreciate their weekly email report
    • The downtown Kaufman's is my most regular store because it is close to my house and I appreciate the advice I get from Bob Aid.
    • Patrick's because they have good saltwater fly selections and their staff is active on the salt.
    • Orivis Bellevue because Leland knows everything I need to know about swinging for steelhead
    • River Run Anglers because Aaron selflessly provides a free Saturday river-side spey casting clinic
    • Yakima River Fly Shop in Cle Elum because Jim Gallagher is a class guy, employs good people, gives good advice on upper Yakima river conditions and stocks a good selection of Yakima River and steelhead flies
    • The Evening Hatch in Ellensburg because Jason Boitano and Jack Mitchell are class guys who are free with quality advice
    • The Avid Angler in Lake Forrest Park because they give excellent classes, carry a good inventory, because Brenda is so sassy. I will miss Nathan a lot
    • The Desert Fly Angler in Euphrata because Darcy knows more than anyone about Rocky Ford and the desert lakes.

    This list makes me a little sad because it reminds me this is the first year of many where I did not wet a fly in either Alaska, Montana, Oregon or BC.

    I didn't spend a cent at Cabela's but in some years I have. I did make a few purchases on ebay -- it's tough to avoid bargains -- and I did buy some stuff from Fly Fish USA (in Oregon) via the web because it is independent, reasonably local, and has the best darned web site and weekly newsletter in the business.