I didn't read through all the BS above, but I'm pretty sure I agree with most of it. If no one mentioned it, I will...a casting pond would be bitchin. If someone did mention it, apologeez for repeatin. Casting and presentation skilz aplenty could be demo'd. If I'm gonna drop $600 bucks on a fancy rod at yer shop, take me out back and show me how much better it is than my Cabela's stowaway...
Mac- I believe as I scanned through the posts that others have shared with you I believe they have shared some great ideas. Knowledge that I know you will be able to use or incorporate into your new fly shop.
How close is your nearest competitor? What do they have in their shop? Or better yet what don't they have in their shop as far as the idea those have shared?
My favorite fly shops Fishaus Hamilton, MT, All About the Fly and Pacific Fly Fishers because all of them have something different I like. One has hot coffee all the time and some dope flies and great local knowledge of some killer water, One has the hooks that other shops normally do not carry and has a open tying roundtable where you can socialize with others that share your same passion,one has great sales on flies that are going into season in a while or just dying out. Good way to stock the box.
One thing similar in all of these shops.....all of the owners are cool, they know the local waters well and are great individuals to learn from and talk to about fishing….they are also a one shop deal and not a chain. I like to support smaller shops like that mainly because of the atmosphere always seems a lot lighter in these shops.
Good luck and I'll stop by this Pimping shop one of these days
First off, where is your shop going to be. If it's close enough to Spokane, I might just drop by.
My most favorite thing in the world to do, other than actually fishing, is sitting around a campfire, with a drink/beer, and BS'ing about the day's fishing. The next best thing, if you can't do that, would be to sit around the old "Pickle Barrel" next to a pot bellied stove, with a cup of coffee and do the same thing. To me a Pro-Shop should be more than a place to spend money. It should be a nice place to spend time, with like-minded people. It's also important to have merchandise available for folks without large incomes. Some low end stuff would be nice to see. Right next to the high end stuff. Economics should not be a dividing factor.
Good luck with your venture. I really hope it flies.
One thing to keep in mind when your customers are trying out new fly rods is how good of condition is the fly line in when trying the fly rod. A dirty and curling fly line will not leave a good impression with your customers and they may pass up on buying anything. I'm not saying it has to be a top quality fly line, just one that is still in good condition.
I just bought a new fly rod at the Sportman's Show in Monroe and one of the ones I tried, had a dirty and curling fly line. I spent less time casting the rod because I was fighting with the line and bought one from another vendor instead, who had a good fly line with the rod. The good fly line made me feel like a better fly caster and gave me less problems, which is good when a lot of people you don't know are watching you cast at the demonstration area.
Finally, how about starting a good fly fishing shop here in Whatcom or Skagit county. We need one.
You mean that you will feed me if I show up. Man free food,just as long as it isn't krispy kremes I'll come. With all the suggestions you have coming I would say to stick with Ron for a day and see how things work out. Anybody who will put up with me for half a day is all goood.
September 1970: The first storm of autumn passed over West Yellowstone, giving one nasty, snow-spitting day in the middle of my idyllic Indian Summer vacation. I didn't feel like braving the elements that day. So I spent the whole day lurking inside Bud Lilly's trout shop, listening more than talking, reading his fishing books (with clean hands, careful to avoid smudging them). After lunching across the street, I brought Bud a covered bowl of hot clam chowder. He was grateful, and never looked askance at my all-day presence.
That was my deepest emersion in the fly-shop-as-clubhouse experience. I know that it doesn't make economic sense for the proprietor, but it was a great experience - except for sitting on the hard floor.
I love the idea of a log cabin moteif. If free coffee is provided, you'd better have adequate restrooms. A fly-tying bench? Sure (perhaps at stand-up height, if you don't want people to linger too long at the vise). Yes to a tv/video setup (keep the volume control behind the counter). Lawn space with casting room would be great, and if part of it is a small casting pond, so much the better. Charge $5 for every test session with one of your rods, rebated if he buys it.
Since a clubhouse needs more than one visitor at a time to be functional, if you want to have prospective customers around at all times, devote part of the floorspace to a barber chair or two (you can create considerable cash flow by renting that corner) or a proprietary coffee shop, and have the waiting room blended with your shop area. After a few months of haircuts there, even a non-flyfishing local guy is likely to buy some entry-level tackle.
Above all, enjoy being the genial host, Grand Poobah, and Sergeant-at-Arms. Enjoy becoming a beloved living legend in the fly fishing community for as many years as possible, until the bank takes it back.
Mac, a lot of good ideas about your shop, but I am going into the nitty gritty about business. Know your books! Learn to be book keeper and accountant. Know your taxes. Put every dollar aside you can and then some more! Live like a miser and don't lease anything. If you cann't pay for it then don't buy it. If you owe no money then you cann't go bankrupt!!
Don't pocket cash from your bus. it will catch up with you and KILL you ! Yes, there are some exceptions but they are subtle. E-mail me and we can talk about it. I have been in the self employed wheel for over 20 years and have some ideas. But I will not post them on an open forum.
Good luck Mac! If I can help I will! but not neccesarilly on an open forum!!!!
3 Willingness: (In all things: the Customer comes first)
4 Support: (Lisences, Guiding, Instruction, Classes, Rentals, Shuttles, Rigging, Trip and Species Research, Custom Flies, Maps, NOAA Weatherfax etc)
5 Hours: (Open early and close late; seven days a week during busy fishing seasons. If a customer needs something but cant get there till late: wait for him, or arrange a way to get them the item they need no matter how small.)
6 Service: (Repairs, Warrantees, Loaner rods and reels, shipping, Calls to factory reps etc. Solve the problems! Also See:"Willingness"above.)
7 Patience: (No "Pro-Snobs"; everyone begins somewhere.)
8 Welcome: (Treat everyone well, with warmth and sincerity. It doesnt have to become a clubhouse, but it should feel like you belong there when you walk in the door, and when you walk out of that door too- Even if you dont buy anything.)
9 Qualityand Selection: (Sell the best that you can afford to stock. Back up the manufacturer's warranty with your own. Even the best mid-grade product lines hold promise for a lifetime of flyfishing enjoyment. Display it well; organized, visible, reachable, fairly priced, well lit with color corrected bulbs.)
10 Comfort: ( have a place for visitors to sit, read, chat etc.)
11 Breadth: (Study the gamut of flyfishing, not just the local trout fishing or the stuff within 10 miles of your shop. Be able to send someone to the Sachelles for Bonefish, Australia for Barramundi, Africa for Tigerfish or the Russian Panoi for Atlantic Salmon- properly outfitted and rigged- not only for the destination but the dates and conditions as well. See items 1 and 2 above.)
12 Local Knowledge: (See items 1,2 and 3 above.)
13 Authenticity: (Dont bore people.)
14 Charity: (Give something back to the fish and wildlife and environment that creates your employment and profits. Donate time, space, and a real committment to the future of your fishery.)
A clean bathroom
A tying table
Real Coffee and Donuts (early mornings)
Alright, i dont care if you have every damn fly tying material in the world, if you dont have eecentric patterns i could care less. Go to Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone and set that as your benchmark. Kingfisher, Trout hunter, and river otter are nice as well. Customer service, flies, make it different!
Gee, Bob, how many degrees have you earned since you started out doing your thing? LOL
It is quite a TRIP isn't it?
Looking back, when you started how much of what you just said would have been pertinent LOL! How much we grow and how much we know, and how much we don't!
It is a great ride! Hold on and enjoy! There are the greatest highs and the deepest lowes. Today you eat steak and tomorrow you are looking for anything to eat! There are no quaranties, it is all you and what you do!
If it were me and and I were to do it over again I would have got a job at a 7-Eleven and been happy! I would have had a pay check and bernefits. Get up and go to work. Just be a number and punch in and punch out. Wait a minute! I am an individual so off I go doing my own thing. No protections, no securities. Me vs the world. That is the game.
When I was kid...I frequented a fly/tackle shop in my home town. I was a young flyfisher and was always begging my parents to take me to local rivers in northern minnesota for brook trout.
Well, one day I was traversing a large boulder on my favourite little river and fell in, breaking my only fly rod. The rod was of cheap graphite/fiberglass but it was my first and favourite rod. My dad picked me up and gladly brought me to our local bait/fly/tackle store that day. My parents always taught me the importance of saving money and not spending what you dont have. So me being a kid...I gave my busted 75 dollar fly rod to the nice old man (who was 85 or so) and he fixed it. I didnt think it would cost me much, maybe 5-10 dollars. As a kid, heck even now, I would pay him 10 dollars an hour just to hear him tell stories of fishing in Hudson Bay and every thing in between. What I didnt know was how much the repair was going to cost. My Dad pretty much new, but he was gonna let me figure this out on my own. I guess now it would have been around 45-60 bucks. And if it was that, he would make me work it off, split wood, wash his boat, clean the guns...something
Two days had passed and I was so excited to get my rod back; with my 12 dollars in hand. My father and I walked in, steping over the old, fat yellow lab by the door and went to the back of the store were Mr. Jim Keuten's workshop was. He gave the rod to one of his workers and he took it to the checkout counter. I love this shop because of all the "real" stories of past fishing trips and days of yore.
"FREE" said the old man from the back of the store, "Absolutly free". He told me he did the best job he could and he and just wanted to see the smile on my face. I was so happy and so extatic, I wanted to hug him. I thanked him, and shook his trembling hand...."please come back anytime"
My Dad was very pleased and told me "Matt, your gonna remember this moment for the rest of your life". I think about that day every time I fish.
I still have that rod, its retired now, actually I'm to scared to break it.
Mac...if you can do someting nice for kids like what Jim Keuten did for me, you will have customers for life. Those kids will one day go to your funeral....Sadly I couldnt make Jims funeral because I was stationed in Korea but all of my local fishing buddies that love him and his store made the funeral.
Help the new flyfishers as much as you can, give them all the info thats in your head, tie on thier backing, let them browse till after you close, just like you would for Mike Doughty
Jim and his wife have made 4 custom Sage fly rods for me since that day. I've spent over 4000 well spent dollars in that store.
Do all the things that the other guys have replied with and keep the store lights down really low in your shop, it gives it that "cabin feel", yuppy flyfishers eat that up.