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Big Brands to Increase Online Fly Gear Sales, Leaving Local Fly Tackle Shops Behind

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March 28, 2012

Big Brands to Increase Online Fly Gear Sales, Leaving Local Fly Tackle Shops Behind

By Kirk Deeter

You may have heard that Simms is planning to sell direct via its website starting this summer. Not to say I told you so, but, well, see #2 here... I fully expect more dominoes to fall this year.

While the move has stirred some ire among some of the fly shop people I know, a number of others seem to be willing to accept that as an inevitability. The strong brands, like Orvis, Patagonia, etc., have had a direct-sales strategy for years. And looking at the glass half full, a dealer can see how a healthier brand can be mutually beneficial. Speaking from personal experience, if I'm looking for a certain size and color shirt that my fly shop may or may not have in stock, I like knowing I can find it, and have it sent to me within a week. But that's not going to stop me from visiting my fly shop. Not at all.

I think a lot of anglers will continue to visit shops, if only because they like to wave those rods around, and try those boots on, before they make a purchase.

The real sticky wicket, however, comes when the angler visits the shop to find out exactly what he or she wants, then leaves with a promise to come back in a few days to make the purchase. But everyone knows where he or she is really going--straight to the computer at home to find a discount online.

For the record, Simms has pledged not only to sell direct at full MSRP with tax (so you're not going to get a screaming deal buying direct), that company, as well as others, has pledged to clamp down on allowing retailers to sell discounted inventory through outlets like eBay and Amazon. But I wonder if that genie is already out of the bottle. Moreover, I wonder if you--the consumers--value a relationship with a fly shop enough to spend a few extra bucks, or if you know what you want, and as such, are only looking to spend as little as possible.

Some companies, like Hatch Outdoors, Hardy, and Scott Fly Rods, have sworn off the Internet discounters. If you want this Hatch reel, you'll have to buy it through a specialty fly shop (or its respective website).

Do you care?

 

Comments (14)

Top Rated
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from rob wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Well, this does concern me. And it should concern all fly fisherman to a great degree. Simms can sell all the Chi-com, overpriced crap that they want to, and move into whatever niche they feel necessary, I'm sure that they have a line of carp wear soon to be unveiled, because, in the short term, it won't hurt Simms, but it will have a direct and sudden impact on their stocking dealers.
To compare Orvis and Patagonia and their direct sale strategy to Simms is unfair in the fact that they both rolled right out of the gate with Catalog and direct sale tools. Patagonia's catalog has always been more of a teaser, seemingly desingned, to me anyway, to get you into the Patagonia store for purchase. And if you pay for the Orvis name, well, you're an idiot. Talk about poorly made, overpriced crap.
That being said, when local fly shops start folding because of direct sale and on-line competition, where will new and struggling fly fisherman go for help? You can't learn everything on the internet. Will it end up being one super power shop in a region? God help us if it's a Cabela's or Bass Pro.
Will Simms begin to notice the error of their ways when all the shops that cary their products start to show 10% drops in sales in the next coming years as local shops push customers to other products that aren't sold directly to John Q public via the internet? Will they care? Will their on-line sales offset this?
I for one know that I am done with ever buying another Simms product, unless it's the absolute only product available to fill my needs. Given the way that they treat their street level dealers (that sounds bad), I don't know why any shop would carry them, except for the fact that they have too because of the brand recognition.

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from Koldkut wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

As time goes on, I can't help but to think, fishing's fishing, right? You have specialty niche shops for fly anglers, who carry only a small assortment of things that catch fish in only a certain fashion, and most shops only carry brands X,Y, and Z. If you want brand W, you have to go to the other shop that endorses them.

I'm starting to think, maybe I don't care as much as I should? What are my loyalties to a shop worth to me? Or the shop, what am I worth to them?

I will still visit my favorite fly shop(Colorado Skies Outfitters, BTW), though, even at a 90 minute drive, one way.....and I will keep my loyalty there for items that they carry. Do I care that some company is going to sell their stuff direct.....as a regular Joe, not really...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnm98765 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Koldkut, you bring up a good point by asking what you're worth to the shop. It seems like we're always being guilted into supporting a local shop, but these shops frankly don't always deserve your business. I have only one shop in my area and I have no problem doing business elsewhere because they often don't seem to care about taking care of me. The Simms waders I bought there last summer leaked right out of the box, and they're response was for me to buy some aquaseal and patch them. So I called Simms and the customer service guy did far more then I would have expected, telling me to keep using the waders until my new ones showed up in the mail, then send them back. Why wouldn't I deal directly with the company with that kind of service. That being said, there are also a few out of town shops in areas I visit that I always stop in to at least buy a few flies just because they have always been very helpful and friendly when I've needed something.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I have purchased products over the internet but rarely. I have to touch something before I buy it and am willing to pay extra at a fly shop for them to keep products in stock for my convenience.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

The guy at my local shop is a straight up A$$! He only wants your dollar! He actually seems annoyed when you go up to the desk even when you're buying something and don't ever bother asking him a question because no other angler is to his level and all are beneath him! kinda like Sayfu :) just kidding! So I drive the hour to the shop where everyone is helpful and cares to answer a learning anglers questions and sell me what I need for the money I can spend. I pay the up-charge and the gas money and always leave happy. And like buckhunter I need to pick the item up and hold it and look it over to see if it's for me and what I want, and you can't do that on-line!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I am happy to spend a few more bucks at my local fly shop because I like the convenience and I can occasionally pick up some intel that will put me on some fish. The folks that work there are knowledgeable and generally helpful but always somewhat skeptical of a guy in a shirt and tie coming in to buy fishing stuff and don't seem to acknowledge my fishing reports unless I have pictures or other proof! But that's part of the charm.

I think the only survival model is for the "fly shop" to diversify into a specialty "fishing shop" or "fishing and hunting" shop to attract a broader clientele.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I don't really care if the company chooses to sell direct or not. If the fly shop cares about keeping business, they'll work with the customers to be price competitive. Companies like Simms pretends to be moral, but they keep shops from working with loyal customers. Also, here in CO I can name some shops that have been prohibited from selling Simms in favor of other shops in town that promise to sell more. Bottom line, the manufacturers are mostly interested in....the bottom line, not morality, unless it will sell them more equipment...then morality is important (or the perception of).

Lots of companies make good equipment, and when it makes sense I'll buy it through my local fly shop along with tying materials, leaders, tippets, etc., I'm there. I won't pay double the price just to keep a shop in business. I have a family to feed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

For me the intangibles acquired from shopping at local flyshops have been more valuable than the slim-modest savings from shopping online. Maybe Ive just been lucky but in general, the people operating the local shops have been helpful, knowledgeable and genuine when dealing with customers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I'm sorry Kirk, but I think you're nieve if you believe this is good for the stores. At $4.00+ a gallon you believe I want to drive 10-20 miles to a store when, if I know my size, I can simply sit at my desk, let's say at work, during lunch, and purchase what I want? You bet I would! Simplicity, one day shipping available, quick returns, tons of items from that company, possible deep pocket sales of last years designs and complaints are taken care of immediately instead of waiting two, three possibly a month! This is going to kill the stores.
If you don't move forward with progress you fall behind. We are an instant gratification society and the small shops, or even the big shops, will not be able to supply as quickly as the manufactures, especially when the manufactures hobble the dealers with rules, intentionally designed to keep those markets available for the Mother companies.
IMO Great for the manufactures ... good for us...bad for the shops.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Oh sorry forgot to ref. rhythm riders comments: Rider that's why they call it business and not charity. Large companies that are established can leverage square footage, employees and merchandise. Lare companies have flexibility. These small shops have very little wiggle room when paying $3.50 (just throwing a number out. don't get all huffy cuz it's not right) a square foot in rent and have to justify every item on the shelf to support that cost... including wear and tear, insurance, wages, ect. You can't easily amortize a loss over when the reins are being held taunt against such a giant!

The truth is we all love to romantize the small shops and the benifits, but if you have a family, student loans, your own expenses and still want to fish... you'll go the easy and cheapest way most of the time. IMO.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Guys, it's 2012 not 1962 nor 1912.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Flutterfly, I appreciate and understand what overhead is to a small business, but don't buy the only way for a small fly shop to survive is to sell premium equipment. You're limiting your market (I'm sure I don't have to give you a marketing/econ 101 lesson). Redington has great products and customer service and warranty IME. I have it in my craw about Simms because they've excluded one of my frequented shops (non Orvis) in lieu of another that made a deal to push product. Just business???..... yes. In line with 'helping the little shop'???..... no. Especially considering Simms can be bought at Cabelas, BPS, anywhere online, etc. It's just price controlled.

Also, I completely value what fly shops have to offer. That includes expertise, personality, education, guide services, etc. That's why I drop what I do (about $1000 a year) at 2 local shops in materials, line, and small consumables. Someday when I have the scratch for a better rod I'll go there too, and expect not to pay MSRP, but not quite price matched. All I'm saying is these shops deserve the flexibility to work with loyalty.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

locla shops in most cases, over price their products but i try to visit them to give them my business when i can. as far as simms goes, there sh*t is WAY over priced and i don't buy from them or orvis!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jan J. Mudder wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I live overseas and teach overseas, so I'm only home in the States in the summer and over Christmas break. I do almost all of my shopping online, and for the past year I have all but lived on eBay, looking for fly tying materials, discount flies, and vintage bamboo rods (to refurbish). For what it's worth, some of the best eBay retailers are fly shops who have figured out how to go digital, also. Likewise, I suspect that some online vendors are able to boost their inventory turnover enough to move into the brick-and-mortar world.

I'm tired of guilt trips about buying local, buying American, etc. I'm overseas with my wife, 20-month-old son, and soon-to-be-born daughter. We're not here purely for financial reasons, but we have raised our standard of living by living and working overseas. I've grown to love America even more being here, but I've also come to see how incredibly fat, lazy, and spoiled our mindset has become. If I can buy a dozen reasonably well-tied nymphs online--most likely made in China, but better than my early attempts at fly tying--why, again, am I supposed to pay $3 per fly at a local fly shop, where the owner almost always is better off financially than I am? For what it's worth, I do buy at local shops, but it's almost always the last-minute or emergency purchases that I need immediately. Like many others have said, I especially support those shops where the people take care of me. I wonder what percentage of sales at fly shops is due to walk-in customers who want a fly fishing report on local waters? Instead of fighting this, embrace it. Why not stock some of the cheap online flies, too, for people like me? I'll probably lose the fly in a tree before a fish has a chance to see it, so it's hard to explain to my wife that I "need" to plop down $3 for that Titanic-like maiden journey.

For those who look down on Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops, I can honestly say that I would no longer be fly fishing if it weren't for these two specific chains of stores. Discount/quality purchases at these stores have kept me fly fishing when I had moved away from it.

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from Koldkut wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

As time goes on, I can't help but to think, fishing's fishing, right? You have specialty niche shops for fly anglers, who carry only a small assortment of things that catch fish in only a certain fashion, and most shops only carry brands X,Y, and Z. If you want brand W, you have to go to the other shop that endorses them.

I'm starting to think, maybe I don't care as much as I should? What are my loyalties to a shop worth to me? Or the shop, what am I worth to them?

I will still visit my favorite fly shop(Colorado Skies Outfitters, BTW), though, even at a 90 minute drive, one way.....and I will keep my loyalty there for items that they carry. Do I care that some company is going to sell their stuff direct.....as a regular Joe, not really...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from johnm98765 wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Koldkut, you bring up a good point by asking what you're worth to the shop. It seems like we're always being guilted into supporting a local shop, but these shops frankly don't always deserve your business. I have only one shop in my area and I have no problem doing business elsewhere because they often don't seem to care about taking care of me. The Simms waders I bought there last summer leaked right out of the box, and they're response was for me to buy some aquaseal and patch them. So I called Simms and the customer service guy did far more then I would have expected, telling me to keep using the waders until my new ones showed up in the mail, then send them back. Why wouldn't I deal directly with the company with that kind of service. That being said, there are also a few out of town shops in areas I visit that I always stop in to at least buy a few flies just because they have always been very helpful and friendly when I've needed something.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

The guy at my local shop is a straight up A$$! He only wants your dollar! He actually seems annoyed when you go up to the desk even when you're buying something and don't ever bother asking him a question because no other angler is to his level and all are beneath him! kinda like Sayfu :) just kidding! So I drive the hour to the shop where everyone is helpful and cares to answer a learning anglers questions and sell me what I need for the money I can spend. I pay the up-charge and the gas money and always leave happy. And like buckhunter I need to pick the item up and hold it and look it over to see if it's for me and what I want, and you can't do that on-line!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rob wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Well, this does concern me. And it should concern all fly fisherman to a great degree. Simms can sell all the Chi-com, overpriced crap that they want to, and move into whatever niche they feel necessary, I'm sure that they have a line of carp wear soon to be unveiled, because, in the short term, it won't hurt Simms, but it will have a direct and sudden impact on their stocking dealers.
To compare Orvis and Patagonia and their direct sale strategy to Simms is unfair in the fact that they both rolled right out of the gate with Catalog and direct sale tools. Patagonia's catalog has always been more of a teaser, seemingly desingned, to me anyway, to get you into the Patagonia store for purchase. And if you pay for the Orvis name, well, you're an idiot. Talk about poorly made, overpriced crap.
That being said, when local fly shops start folding because of direct sale and on-line competition, where will new and struggling fly fisherman go for help? You can't learn everything on the internet. Will it end up being one super power shop in a region? God help us if it's a Cabela's or Bass Pro.
Will Simms begin to notice the error of their ways when all the shops that cary their products start to show 10% drops in sales in the next coming years as local shops push customers to other products that aren't sold directly to John Q public via the internet? Will they care? Will their on-line sales offset this?
I for one know that I am done with ever buying another Simms product, unless it's the absolute only product available to fill my needs. Given the way that they treat their street level dealers (that sounds bad), I don't know why any shop would carry them, except for the fact that they have too because of the brand recognition.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I have purchased products over the internet but rarely. I have to touch something before I buy it and am willing to pay extra at a fly shop for them to keep products in stock for my convenience.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tkbone wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I am happy to spend a few more bucks at my local fly shop because I like the convenience and I can occasionally pick up some intel that will put me on some fish. The folks that work there are knowledgeable and generally helpful but always somewhat skeptical of a guy in a shirt and tie coming in to buy fishing stuff and don't seem to acknowledge my fishing reports unless I have pictures or other proof! But that's part of the charm.

I think the only survival model is for the "fly shop" to diversify into a specialty "fishing shop" or "fishing and hunting" shop to attract a broader clientele.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I don't really care if the company chooses to sell direct or not. If the fly shop cares about keeping business, they'll work with the customers to be price competitive. Companies like Simms pretends to be moral, but they keep shops from working with loyal customers. Also, here in CO I can name some shops that have been prohibited from selling Simms in favor of other shops in town that promise to sell more. Bottom line, the manufacturers are mostly interested in....the bottom line, not morality, unless it will sell them more equipment...then morality is important (or the perception of).

Lots of companies make good equipment, and when it makes sense I'll buy it through my local fly shop along with tying materials, leaders, tippets, etc., I'm there. I won't pay double the price just to keep a shop in business. I have a family to feed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

For me the intangibles acquired from shopping at local flyshops have been more valuable than the slim-modest savings from shopping online. Maybe Ive just been lucky but in general, the people operating the local shops have been helpful, knowledgeable and genuine when dealing with customers.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I'm sorry Kirk, but I think you're nieve if you believe this is good for the stores. At $4.00+ a gallon you believe I want to drive 10-20 miles to a store when, if I know my size, I can simply sit at my desk, let's say at work, during lunch, and purchase what I want? You bet I would! Simplicity, one day shipping available, quick returns, tons of items from that company, possible deep pocket sales of last years designs and complaints are taken care of immediately instead of waiting two, three possibly a month! This is going to kill the stores.
If you don't move forward with progress you fall behind. We are an instant gratification society and the small shops, or even the big shops, will not be able to supply as quickly as the manufactures, especially when the manufactures hobble the dealers with rules, intentionally designed to keep those markets available for the Mother companies.
IMO Great for the manufactures ... good for us...bad for the shops.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from fflutterffly wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Oh sorry forgot to ref. rhythm riders comments: Rider that's why they call it business and not charity. Large companies that are established can leverage square footage, employees and merchandise. Lare companies have flexibility. These small shops have very little wiggle room when paying $3.50 (just throwing a number out. don't get all huffy cuz it's not right) a square foot in rent and have to justify every item on the shelf to support that cost... including wear and tear, insurance, wages, ect. You can't easily amortize a loss over when the reins are being held taunt against such a giant!

The truth is we all love to romantize the small shops and the benifits, but if you have a family, student loans, your own expenses and still want to fish... you'll go the easy and cheapest way most of the time. IMO.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from New Age Bubba wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Guys, it's 2012 not 1962 nor 1912.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Rhythm Rider wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

Flutterfly, I appreciate and understand what overhead is to a small business, but don't buy the only way for a small fly shop to survive is to sell premium equipment. You're limiting your market (I'm sure I don't have to give you a marketing/econ 101 lesson). Redington has great products and customer service and warranty IME. I have it in my craw about Simms because they've excluded one of my frequented shops (non Orvis) in lieu of another that made a deal to push product. Just business???..... yes. In line with 'helping the little shop'???..... no. Especially considering Simms can be bought at Cabelas, BPS, anywhere online, etc. It's just price controlled.

Also, I completely value what fly shops have to offer. That includes expertise, personality, education, guide services, etc. That's why I drop what I do (about $1000 a year) at 2 local shops in materials, line, and small consumables. Someday when I have the scratch for a better rod I'll go there too, and expect not to pay MSRP, but not quite price matched. All I'm saying is these shops deserve the flexibility to work with loyalty.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

locla shops in most cases, over price their products but i try to visit them to give them my business when i can. as far as simms goes, there sh*t is WAY over priced and i don't buy from them or orvis!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jan J. Mudder wrote 2 years 2 weeks ago

I live overseas and teach overseas, so I'm only home in the States in the summer and over Christmas break. I do almost all of my shopping online, and for the past year I have all but lived on eBay, looking for fly tying materials, discount flies, and vintage bamboo rods (to refurbish). For what it's worth, some of the best eBay retailers are fly shops who have figured out how to go digital, also. Likewise, I suspect that some online vendors are able to boost their inventory turnover enough to move into the brick-and-mortar world.

I'm tired of guilt trips about buying local, buying American, etc. I'm overseas with my wife, 20-month-old son, and soon-to-be-born daughter. We're not here purely for financial reasons, but we have raised our standard of living by living and working overseas. I've grown to love America even more being here, but I've also come to see how incredibly fat, lazy, and spoiled our mindset has become. If I can buy a dozen reasonably well-tied nymphs online--most likely made in China, but better than my early attempts at fly tying--why, again, am I supposed to pay $3 per fly at a local fly shop, where the owner almost always is better off financially than I am? For what it's worth, I do buy at local shops, but it's almost always the last-minute or emergency purchases that I need immediately. Like many others have said, I especially support those shops where the people take care of me. I wonder what percentage of sales at fly shops is due to walk-in customers who want a fly fishing report on local waters? Instead of fighting this, embrace it. Why not stock some of the cheap online flies, too, for people like me? I'll probably lose the fly in a tree before a fish has a chance to see it, so it's hard to explain to my wife that I "need" to plop down $3 for that Titanic-like maiden journey.

For those who look down on Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops, I can honestly say that I would no longer be fly fishing if it weren't for these two specific chains of stores. Discount/quality purchases at these stores have kept me fly fishing when I had moved away from it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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