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flytyingscotsman

Brick & Mortar Fly Shops

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Having witnessed a dramatic decrease in the number of brick & mortar

fly shops in my local area, I was wondering if this was a localized phenomena

or something systematic, possibly caused by on-line sales or other forces.

 

Here is a list of the closings with reasons where available :-

 

1. Retired when Cabelas opened 40 minutes away

2. Outdoor shop closed one of two locations and dropped fly fishing line

3. Closed mini-mall location and merged with outfitter 1 hour away

4. Tackle shop dropped all fly tackle & trout supplies (now bass specialist)

5. Went bankrupt

 

Other information of note :-

1. One of 3 very good creeks in this area is reputed to hold the densest population of wild browns in PA.

2. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commision license sales for this county for past three years are :-

2005 : 15,258

2004 : 17,655

2003 : 18,377

 

3. The one remaining fly shop is situated in an old spring house 10 feet from the creek

4. The merged concern mentioned above is also located right on a creek

 

Given I'm always hearing 'Fishing is one of the fasting growing sports ...', I don't know

what to take from this ....

 

 

 

 

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I live in Camp Hill, PA (Harrisburg suburb). We are 1 hour from the same Cabalas’ store. In the last 3 years we have had a Bass Pro and Gander Mt open in Harrisburg, plus Cabalas’ an hour away in Hamburg.

 

We have 3 local fly shops in the Harrisburg-Carlisle PA area. "Yellow Breeches (on the Breeches), Cold Spring Anglers (minutes form the Latort and Breeches) and Bob Clouser's shop (minutes form the Susquehanna). All three shops are open, I believe because they are specialty shops close to great waters.

 

They offer casting and tying classes, and also guide service.

 

I still shop at cabalas and bass pro, because of the selection. Our local shops compete well with prices.

 

I have noticed several bait and tackle shops in the area (5 that I can think of) that closed up in the last 5 years. But these were not specialty shops, and Wally-World offered everything the tackle shops could offer, at a lower price.

 

Our Bass Pro in Harrisburg has Bobby Clouser working the fly shop. (Someone told me he is the manager, not sure of that). Bobby said that the big box shops have had some impact on his dad's shop (which is a very small shop attached to the house). I go to Clousers for specialty flies and tying materials you can't get anywhere else, and for the information gleaned from experts (Clousers’ shop is very friendly).

 

I have never found the other fly shops to be overly friendly, and have found the workers at Cabalas and Bass Pro willing to be your best fishing buddy in a matter of minutes. I do find my self going to the local shops less and less (guess I’m not part of the in crowd).

 

Conehead

 

 

 

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Yes they are. Our local Fly Fish the World closed its doors late last year. Yeah we have an Orvis company store and the company lets us run the shop like a small flyshop just with only Orvis gear. But it is not the same. I work at the Orvis shop and when we got the call that FFTW was closing we all were saddened because of how often we would just stop off there after a day at work to pick up materials we needed or to just shoot the breeze and talk fishing with people who are into the sport for the same reasons we are.

 

Some of the shop employees blamed our store but after talking to the owner of FFTW it was not us but he said he just could not take the losses anymore, it was fun at first and that made up for the fact they were not turning a profit but after a while he just could not shell out that much money to have the chance to get gear at wholesale prices.

 

We have a Basspro opening up nearby and the local gear shop is going to move right across the street from them in order to compete and get a larger store since they need it.

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Here in Louisiana fly shops are rarity...the closest ones to me are 120+ miles away...if I go east to Baton rouge, or i go west into Houston in Texas. Recently, probably the best fly shop in Louisiana which was in New Orleans, quit selling tying materials...they couldn't compete with the online retailers, and with a Cabelas opening less than 60 miles away this summer, and a Bass Pro opening about 70 miles away a bit later, thing were only going to get worse. So now they only sell flies, rods, reels, lines, leaders, etc. and fly fishers paraphernalia...waders, nippers, clothing, etc. Sad really. At the moment the only big box retailer with fly fishing stuff open in Louisiana is Bass Pro in Shreveport, about a 4 hour drive from me, so I've never been there. when the Cabelas opens, I expect I'll make an annual pilgrimage over there, that's about a 3 hour drive from me. So if you wonder why a lot of the materials for my stuff comes from craft and sewing stores now you know why. the rest is usually ordered online, J. Stockard, Jann's Netcraft and Cabelas have been my usual online sources with a very occasional purchase from Bass Pro. Boy I'd love to have a fly shop in town....when I lived in Michigan, I could walk two blocks from my house to a fishing/hunting store that at least had minimal fly fishing and fly tying stuff.

 

Mark Delaney

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Our local fly shop is probably healthier than it's ever been. But there is a trick to it, make no mistake about it. The shop caters primarily to tyers, and in the equipment and clothing, only carries the high end. For rods they only carry winston and sage in stock, st croix is available upon request. The clothing is all simms and some patagonia, and they care hardy, tibor, sage, and ross in the reels. The other thing they do well is offer a substantial amount of guided trips including drift boats and all the fun stuff. We are in Wisconsin, and you'd be surprised how many people just stop in because they see a drift boat and they have fished out west. And in Wisconsin we have good trout fishing, but what makes our local shop go is smallmouth bass. With some of the best river smallie action you will ever see, more and more people are starting to fly fish.

 

The shop by us has a Gander Mountain about 20 minutes away, a Sportsman's Warehouse and Wal-Mart across the street. The trick for them has been to develop a healthy relationship with the Sportsman's Wearhouse folks. When someone comes into Sportsman's Warehouse for fly gear, they send them to the fly shop, and when someone comes into the fly shop looking for rapalas, they send them across the street. They both allow each other to advertise at each other's location, 99% of their sales do not overlap.

 

The regular bait and tackle shop in our area went out of business 2 years ago, but oddly enough, the business at the fly shop continues to grow. You can blame the mega stores for the demise of your shops, but it's not them, it's the owner's of the fly shop that make the difference, and the relationships they build with their customers. I would not dream of purchasing anything that I could get at my local fly shop from anyone else. If it's something the shop does not carry, I always ask if they can order it first, before ordering it myself. Loyalty works both ways, and the shop owners are just as loyal to us.

 

Fly shops are not just places to buy materials, and people who operate their shop as such will inevitably go out of business. The fact is, I will go to the shop tonight, buy $30 worth of stuff like a do everyweek, sit in the back room by the fireplace and drink coffee, maybe tie a little, and BS for about 3 hours. There will be a steady stream of about 15-20 people that will come in and do the same in that time, all to talk and get a good laugh before their drives to whereever.

 

Is our shop owner getting rich? Heck no, but he is got his head above water, and he has enough common sense to keep it that way. He's passionate about our sport, almost to a flaw, and so should every shop owner be. Since our shop opened up 7 years ago, I have not set foot in a big box store when looking for fly gear, and I plan on keeping it that way.

 

 

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I would not dream of purchasing anything that I could get at my local fly shop from anyone else. If it's something the shop does not carry, I always ask if they can order it first, before ordering it myself. Loyalty works both ways, and the shop owners are just as loyal to us.

 

I had exactly this relationship with a great guy who unfortunately went bankrupt. He also was

passionate about the sport, fished when he had the chance and continually developed

patterns. I knew I was paying a little premium when I bought stuff from him, but was happy

to do so, as the information alone he was happy to convey was priceless ! I had never encountered

spring creek fishing before, far less super-pernickity trout and he was more than happy to

share a lifetimes experience of fishing the local creeks and patterns he had developed.

 

 

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Hi all,

Where I live, there are NO fly shops, and the Genesee River runs right through town. I've seriously thought about opening a shop, but I feel many fly fishermen like the convenience of shoping online- through the fly shops that are online and through Ebay. I know, myself, when I buy equipment, tackle and supplies, I like to hold it in my hand and inspect it. This is quite difficult. There is a sporting goods store about 45 minutes from me. They are suppose to be expanding their fly tying and fly fishing section, but they've been in business for over a year now, with very little happening as far as this expansion goes.

 

The nearest big dealers are Gander Mountain- about 2 hrs drive; Bass Pro about 2.5 hrs drive. Nearest Cabelas- about 6 hrs drive. Other fly shops include the Oak Orchard Fly Shop- 2hrs or more drive and Buffalo Outfitters also about 2 hrs or more drive. Few choices. If you have a place close by, consider yourself lucky.

 

Mark

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Where I live, there are NO fly shops, and the Genesee River runs right through town. I've seriously thought about opening a shop, but I feel many fly fishermen like the convenience of shoping online- through the fly shops that are online and through Ebay.

 

For what it's worth, if you think you can be successful - I say go for it.

 

From what I can gather, if you do decide to take the plunge - make

sure you locate as close to the productive waters as possible.

 

I for one do enjoy the convenience of online shopping, but that's because I've

been given no choice - if I still had a good place to go, that's where I would be

getting my supplies.

 

There is no substitute for the information available at a good fly shop, not just

from the folks running it, but also from the other customers - let's face it -

you can't beat a good BS in the fly shop ...

 

As far as Cabelas is concerned, I have one within relatively easy reach and

have stopped going there altogether for a few reasons.

 

First off, I always come away with 75% of what was on my list. Given the wild

range of fly tying materials these days, you might say that's not too bad - but the

difference here is your good fly shop will try to order and stock what you

want, whereas Cabelas stocks what Cabelas stocks - end of story. Also,

there is no excuse for having no egg yarn & hooks running up to and during a

steelhead run.

 

Second, the guys working the counter at Cabelas neither know nor care about

the creeks I fish (only 40 mins away). Actually, I came away with the impression

that they didn't care about trout fishing either - all I could get was a dissertation

about the Salmon river at Pulaski NY which is a four hour drive - a long way to

go if they couldn't even suppy the egg yarn and hooks to fish with !

 

Third, it just feels like Wal-Mart for fly fisherman ....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lefty Kreh reported at a club meeting last month that 82 Fly Shops in the Mid-Atlantic region have closed thier doors in the last 3 years.

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Lefty Kreh reported at a club meeting last month that 82 Fly Shops in the Mid-Atlantic region have closed thier doors in the last 3 years.

 

That's a scary statistic, given that the number probably doesn't include the

demise of tackle shops that had good fly sections.

 

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I mentioned that the New Orleans fly shop has stopped selling fly tying materials....a necessity for them unfortunately. you have to remember that the biggest city in Louisiana post-Katrina is now Baton Rouge, not New Orleans. New Orleans is estimated to be around 400,000 or less at the moment down from over a million in August 2005. So that particular fly shop has had other issues to deal with than just satisfying the customers. I think it relatively amazing that they will even able to reopen (and yes, they did get looted, but all the high end rods just sat there, and people trashed a great amount of the tying materials. Broke the windows and the door to the building as well.) I can understand why they are doing what they are doing, losing such a large amount of the their potential customer base. Still wish there was a fly shop in Lake Charles, though...

 

Mark Delaney

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I am with conehead, the local Bass Pro in Harrisburg has a great staff that is very helpful and curteous. Thier free fly tying classes were a real joy to attend.

 

I was in last night and Bobby Clouser spooled my line on my new real for me. They were having casting lessons in the mall last night.

 

As it is right now if i am driving to a fly shop it is most likely the Bass Pro.

 

My only complaint is thier material selection, but to be fair there are few shops where i seem to be able to find everything that i need. Fly Fishers Paradise is one of the few. With rising fuel prices it is almost as cheap for me to order from them, and if i get the order in before lunch i have it the next day.

 

I think the B&M shops that will continue to succeed are the ones with a stream side presence and/or a mailorder branch.

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I think that you guy's may have the answer to why so many shops are closing about 18" in front of you. Over this side of the pond things are pretty similar with shops closing and the like. As founder and president of the local F.D.G. we try hard to attract new junior members (under 18s) we sponser them and really go out of our way to do everything we can for them. However they only stay with us for a short time and go off"to do exams" and other things, Consequently there is very little "new blood" coming into the sport.

 

Sure our membership is boayant and we have a 15% annual turnover and gain say 5/10% new members each year but they are almost all 40s+ and many of these are 60s+.

 

The tackle dealers advertise in magazines about the lack of things like after sales etc that you can't always get from certain auction sites. The cost of running an online shop is negligable compared to an actual one.

 

John

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