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xpman

Other things besides product.

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I know in my shop I used to help newbies get started tell them which flies to use and when. We gave fishing reports, rod building info, and tying advise. When I had my shop I could tell what people were tying by what materials the purchased. I gave the customers the best prices I could and more times than not I was cheaper than the local big box. I also supported local charities and childrens groups. I miss the interaction with customers and like interacting with them now that the store is gone; just to see what they have been up to and how fishing is going, many wish that we had a store, but It's not for me anymore can't make it on just fly fishing. I helped so many get started and am glad to see them advance in the sport. Its not the pickle barrel and fire but it was fun.

xpman

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It is a very unfortunate thing but shops that make a lot more friends than money can't keep going. Sounds like you had a great spot. There was a place up in Duluth MN called Jim's Baits that was like you describe but fortunately enough dropped our paychecks there to keep him in business for years until he passed on. He did not specialize in flies but was full service but fly fishing was his first love and like you probably did he kept coffee going and usually had a small group around him at all times while he rambled on about his trips and passing out advice whenever asked. Not many places like that anymore. Sorry yours didn't keep you going since I think it was your main love while you had it (besides wife and family that is).

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Xpman: Sorry I was never able to visit your shop. Sounded like my kind of place. There are good shops as well as bad ones, but the good ones conduct business exactly as you have outlined, and they are gems one and all. The bad shops are little more than disinterested retail outlets of dubious merit that often do more harm than good, especially for the beginning clientele. But the good shops, the ones that believe in nurturing the local fly fishing community at large are places to cherish, and it is always sad to hear of their passing, which is an all too common occurrence these days.

 

It is not news to hear the small business retailer is sorely pressed right now, and fly shops are no different. My area has been bleeding shops over the last few years, and while mostly it was the bad shops that have failed, even some of the good shops have changed hands and lost their soul. My favorite shop in the area changed hands a few years ago, and the new owners have essentially alienated their entire clientele. This was a shop that was staffed by experts in the field, which carried a mind boggling number of rods, and was a genuine pleasure to visit. Now I barely want to go in there to buy a pack of hooks. At one time there were as many as 4 reasonably decent shops within 20 miles, and now we are down to just two -- soon to be one I imagine. Very sad.

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