Death of the Local Fly Shop?

We try to keep things on the light side here at Sweaty Waders. But every once in a while an issue comes along that warrants serious discussion. In this case, it’s a significant threat to your friendly local fly shop. Not just ours, but all of them. Over recent years, big box stores (think Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops) have been taking away substantial market share from specialty fly shops. On top of that, the market is shrinking. Fewer people are fly fishing every year, and those who are tend to be older. The issue has come to a head with Simms’ recent announcement that, beginning August 1, they will begin selling directly to customers from their web site. They will also forbid sales on Ebay and Amazon, where many shops sell their discontinued products and closeout items. Jerry Lappier of the Trout Shop in Craig, Montana, an industry veteran, can discuss the issue more intelligently than I can; read his blog post here.

What can you do if, like me, you’d like to see the local fly shop survive? The answer is pretty simple. Frequent, and purchase your gear from, your favorite local shop. Preferably ours, of course, but if not, someone else’s. If you’re buying online, buy from the web site of a specialty shop. Yes, you may end up spending a few extra dollars. But that’s a small price to pay for the advice and local knowledge that you’ve received from your shop visits over the years.

The longer term solution? Getting more people involved in our glorious sport. Take someone fly fishing for the first time, especially a youngster. Infect them with your enthusiasm. And when it comes time that they want to “gear up,” you know where to steer them. And not just so they’ll lay down some cash. But also because there they’ll find a community of like minded individuals who will share that enthusiasm and help them develop as fly fishers. Just like you have. And like you always will, if we can collectively turn around this troubling trend.

Any thoughts? Leave us a comment.

1 Comment so far

I just read an instance of a fly shop closing down its retail sales because of the big box stores, and they now just run a guide service. Please shoot me an email; I’d like to run an idea past you.

Thank you!

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