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Fly Shops vs Online: Is "Showrooming" Fair or Foul?

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January 29, 2014

Fly Shops vs Online: Is "Showrooming" Fair or Foul?

By Kirk Deeter

I'm all for doing as much research as possible before buying any fly gear. Heck, if companies are going to charge $800 bucks for a fly rod or a rain suit, they should expect consumers to do as much poking around as possible. And there's nothing wrong with looking for a deal when you can find it. But "showrooming" has become a real problem for many retailers in this country. 

Here's what happens: Anglers do the majority of their research online, hopefully they read some magazine and/or online product reviews, and have their mind set on what they want to buy. But it's hard to really know for sure with some gear — at least in the case of a fly rod. Most anglers won't know if they like a rod or not until they actually pick it up and cast it. So they head to the fly shop, try a few rods, and get the spiel from the person behind the counter. And when they're really sure about what they want... they go home and order it online.

Maybe they get a deal; maybe they save sales tax by ordering out of state.

Manufacturers and retailers do as much as they can to set standard pricing so retailers don't lose sales to others. We can argue about the virtues of that (or lack thereof) all day, but the bottom line is the retailer — the person who paid to carry the inventory so anglers could test gear and paid staff to answer questions — ultimately got shafted on the sale.

Granted, we live in the Internet age, and the consumer is ultimately in charge.

But I like fly shops. I think we need fly shops. And I think it's a bit shady to tap into the information resource, and then deal only on the bottom line, behind the shop owner's back.  I won't do it.  I'll pay a few extra bucks to support a shop, because I value them as resources.

Would you do the same?

 

Comments (31)

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from themadflyfisher wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I do do the same. I support my local shop which is a little ways away and about $40 is gas round trip. I like the shop because I like the guy who owens it. He is very personable and helpful and he simply has a good shop. But lets face it, a lot of shops are garbage; Flyfisher's paradise in State College is one of them. They are located near one of the countries nicest limestone streams(spring creek) and think they're gods because of that and I refuse to go back in to that place. The guys are arrogant, the stuff is over priced, and you don't get a good experience when you are there. You are treated like a dollar bill and I won't support that. What kills me is that some guys praise the place. I know a guy who guided for them and he says all they care about is $ and nothing else. After booking a couple hundred dollar trip with clients he would get reemed for not selling them the flies he used on the trip and that made him call it quits with the shop

Sorry for the rant but I needed to get that out :)

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I don't see the flyshops allowing anglers to try out a rod often anyway. Once tried out other than cast on the property, it becomes a used rod. And many shops do not have a place to cast a rod.
The other factor, and you see it demonstrated on this thread, is a high percentage of fly fisherman don't even understand rod "actions", and have it defined well before they buy. And mfging co.'s that set the retail price are price fixing IMO. I had the bossman from SA tell me he could win the case in court if SA felt it would be worthwhile to take it to court.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I got off subject with that
I do try and buy most of my stuff from a shop but with higher priced items sometimes that extra cost is just too much. Even though I know those are the items I should be buying from the shop because that's a lot of their money sitting on the shelf in inventory and it takes a lot of leader and tippet sales to make that up, but unfortunately I just can't always afford to do that.

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from VAHunter540 wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I have definitely done this with some items but other times I have done my research then gone into the shops to talk with someone who hopefully can break the “tie” I have in my head. If I have it narrowed down and then talk to a guy working the counter and he tells me his experience with one rod vs another or some other piece of equipment or even just his opinion which I am hoping is an informed one (usually it is) from there I will usually purchase the item there at the store. I value that kind of service and don’t mind paying a little extra to get it. Of course if that extra is much more than a quarter or third the cost of the same item online or at one of the big pro shops sometimes the small shops lose out. I will however remember the experience and help I got at the small shop and will most likely visit them again for other purchases and most importantly I will spread the word to my fishing buddies about how helpful and great the shop is.

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Have a buddy who takes "showrooming" to a whole new level. Watched him in a shop once take over an hour of the guys time and I knew all along he was going to get it off Ebay. I don't fish with him anymore. He's the same guy who wants to split the cost of gas to the penny, demands separate checks while eating and goes to the head of the hole first.

Not the qualities I look for in a fishing partner.

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from RockySquirrel wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Themadflyfisher;

I know a small time gunsmith/gun store like that. I bought and traded a couple guns with him in the past, so he knew I was a serious buyer, but his arrogance just got to me. I now go elsewhere (much further) and pay more, rather then deal with that. I am the customer, not an annoyance, or an interruption while you chat with your buddies.

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Made a visit to a streamside shop in PA once with a buddy of mine. My buddy (he is dead now) was a rich, arrogant snob who demanded the best and did look down his nose when necessary. At the time I had a lot of fly fishing experience but very little money. Anyways, the shop owner recognized I was a non or low paying visitor and never gave me the time of day while he oogled over my buddy and his wallet.

The moral of this story is this: The shop owner made the most money he could from our visit and there is nothing wrong with that.

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Kirk, we need a blog on how to choose a good fishing partner. Hell, you spend hours in the car with them, sleep in the same tent and share the same water bottle. There's gotta be a way to choose wisely.

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from treelimit wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Kirk, I guess my answer depends on whether the same fly shop pushes high-end, "overkill" gear on obvious newbies and/or steers them to online resources when what they have in inventory maybe isn't appropriate for either their skill level or budget. In short, the violin plays high notes AND low notes.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Here's a reality check. Having lots of friends, and then setting up a business, and relying on them to be your core customer doesn't pay the bills. Whether it is an insurance business, or a flyshop. Been there, and witnessed it way too many times. I ran a flyshop in a big classy outdoor outfitter store, and millionaire pro-baseball players would come in, and down the stairs they'd go to our bargain basement. Too much ready info out there today especially, and price becomes a big item. I sure can see why many flyshops are going out of business.

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from rjw wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Small retailers are the weakest link in the chain, some will survive with great customer service and a loyal customer base and many more will continue to shut down.
Manufacturers (branded) set the pricing, the only choice the retailer has is whether or not they want to carry their products, sure the retailer can talk price with the manufacturer, although that is all it is, talk. You cannot win any argument with a manufacturer, so there is absolutely no need to use the word virtue.
While on vacation I stopped to visit a local fly shop in Montana (Billings) a regular customer came in sparked up a conversation with the owner (friendly & helpful) about a set of waders, guy said the big box store down the street is selling the same waders for less money than him, the store owner became agitated and called the factory and asked why they were cheaper at another location and that was not what the agreement was, price was supposed to be the same across the board, period.
Virtue, really? Dangle nailed it, price fixing, or to be politically correct, free market!

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from CopperCountry wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I don't mind paying a little extra to support the local economy, and I really appreciate good customer service, but the bottom line is that local businesses still need to earn my business. Top 5 ways to make me buy something on-line:
1. "We can order it for you" -- well so can I, and I can usually get it here faster and cheaper. If the local shop wants my business, they need to have a decent inventory in stock.
2. Businesses that act like customers exist to keep them in business or act like having to deal with customers is a hassle.
3. Ridiculous prices -- I know it costs you a little more for inventory, shipping, employees, etc -- but I'm not willing to pay double.
4. Rude behavior -- my 10 year old son and I were once followed out of a store by an owner who was cussing me out the whole way. Needless to say, I've never been back, and I made sure to tell that story to everybody I talked to for several years. The reason for his hatred? Well, I tried to negotiate with him on his prices.
5. Inconvenient store hours -- If the only times you are open happen to coincide with the times the rest of the world has to be at work, it's a little tough for me to give you some of my money in exchange for something I want.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

Coppercountry...Double is just the basic bottomline for a flyshop. Virtually all the hard goods are priced double..cost a $1.00, and sell it for $2.00 I talked to a supplier awhile back, and he said, "shops only make double on their hooks to rods etc." And that is why they have to stock clothing where they get a higher percentage markup, The consumer calls that "double", but the business owner figures it is 50 %. $2 sale, and they get to keep 1/2 of it...50 %.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

And I got showroomed bad on flylines, and sold a ton of them. I carried two brands, SA, and a competitor. Some 5 blocks away, a huge discounter sold SA flylines. And it wasn't hard to know I was being showroomed. An angler would ask me how good SA lines were, and all about the tapers, etc. I'd tell them the competitor brand was far, far better, and make them a lot better fly angler etc. I sold almost no SA flylines. SA knew I was selling lots of flylines, and sent out the big shots from SA to meet with me. "Wazzzup?..your SA line sales are way down."...and I told them why, and the fact the discounter was selling my SA flylines for just about what I was paying for them....And that is when they said they could sue the competitor for price fixing, but that the competitor was so small it wasn't worth their effort.

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from Rhythm Rider wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

Showrooming is prominent with everything that can be purchased. The fact is fly shops have to find a way to deal with it. I find great value in having a fly shop that stocks merchandise and has great staff. If those shops have no way of negotiating with a customer, or are forced to let merchandise sit on their shelves until some rube comes along and wants to pay full retail.....they're doomed.

An independent drum shop I frequent knows customers showroom. He always is up front about his costs, and always negotiates. He knows what he's talking about, and knows how to keep customers.

Bottom line, companies that hold their supposedly most valuable retailers hostage to their retail pricing are part to blame, and fly shops that can't negotiate with their customers are caught in the squeeze.

I proudly showroom, and use that to my advantage when dealing with shops, and in the end buy from the shops I appreciate. It's not a crime, but it's a joke to act like it is.

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from mayoaaron wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I like to support locally owned stores but I hold no allegiance to big national stores

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from babsfish4life wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

@ dangle - Your SA rep was most likely giving you the price fixing baloney to build the sales relationship. Unless the manufacturer has an agreement on pricing which is almost unheard of. Price fixing on the retail side is where you and your competitors get together and agree to charge triple your cost so there is no option but to overpay. If you look at Black Friday sales they use the same tactic as your competitor, price an item at cost or even lower to get customers in the door and make money from them on other items they purchase.
On the topic at hand, it's a cutthroat business, a small retail business has to give a reason to buy other than prices, if they can't you won't sell. If a small shop is knowledgeable, have what I need, reasonable prices and are convenient they have my business. I don't feel guilty about buying stuff at Walmart but I don't expect them to even know where their customer bathrooms are let alone fishing or hunting questions.

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from zfisher wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

It is the height of D-Baggery to "showroom". If you're going to take the test drive of the equipment at a shop, then you should buy from them. That said, owners need to be savvy. If they know I can get something for $40 cheaper online, make an offer to split the difference with me. If I walk out, the shop gets nothing. I've yet to have a shop employee try and negotiate to get me to buy something. This all or nothing approach will likely leave them with nothing in the long run.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I only read several posts past my last one, but those two don't understand the fly fishing industry at all. The mfger sets the price on many items the fly shop stocks. You lose your merchandise line if you lower the price! Cortland 444 flylines, or Sage Rods, and most top of the line rods are sold at one price FIXED by the mfger. And that is just an example. The MFGER can discontinue a rod model, for example, and provide markdowns for all the flyshops that carry them. And a big box store can carry 333 Cortland flylines, but are not allowed to carry the 444 lines that are fixed in price, and only sold to flyshops. You may want to start up a flyshop, and then find out you can not even stock a particular item because there is another shop within 20 miles that they are protecting! I was turned in for marking down a fly line that I just threw on a double on the price sticker. A competitor turned me in, and the mfg rep called, and asked what I was selling the line for. I told them, and the guy says "look on the box. Mark it up, and sell it for that". So I marked it up another 10 % to comply. I sold so many of the lines that my price was 60% off the suggested price not 50 % as I had marked it up. Deals are being done, but not by the small flyshops.

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from azduane wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I may research online but I try to support the "brick and mortar" establishments as much as possible. This holds true not only for fishing and hunting equipment but also how I support other stores, like Barnes and Noble for instance. I would hate to lose any of the stores I visit because of the online "replacement". It's just not the same.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 1 day ago

azduane.....Many of the brick and mortar stores have online shopping. Many of the profitable fly shops have online shopping that are adequately financed. I shop at them, and get good customer service on them. The one that I shop at is a fly shop back East that has an 800 number that I call, and they have a number of closeout sales I take advantage of.

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from muskie45 wrote 11 weeks 1 day ago

By all means, shop for the lowest price or complain about inventory or a wait. Don't buy from a local shop because an internet site has a better price. When you have a problem with that great deal, enjoy the frustration, shipping charges, lost time and clueless performance of someone who could care less about your current purchase or continued business. When you need advice about local conditions, send someone at customer service an email.

A good fly shop provides a professional service, but sells product. Better yet, ask a successful guide for his best information and advice FOR FREE. If you don't grasp the difference and consequences of price vs cost, head for your nearest Walmart.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 20 hours ago

Muskie...You are going to extremes. Info is there today, and the lowest price is also there. Guy buys a leader wheel, and gets his info needed...but that doesn't keep the doors of the shop open. Lodges in my area give fishing reports, what flies to use, hatch charts. My big box store posts the fishing reports daily, and flies, water levels, etc. And my WalMart does have a fly shop, and a manager that knows his stuff. I even advertise in the paper to call me if you need to know something. If I don't know I'll tell you who to call. And come over, I'll tie the fly for you, and give you a pattern!

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from rjw wrote 11 weeks 13 hours ago

Dangle
A WalMart with a fly shop?

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from Dangle wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Yep. And my friend sets them up. They established them in 4 WalMarts so far out West here. The idea is to raise the class consumer base, and not the appearance of lower level goods. Until Obama came along a lot of WalMart's consumer base had moved up the economic ladder. That, and anglers can buy their fishing license, and one stop shopping for food/beverage, and other goods, and get good info. We are in one of the top fly fishing areas in the country. I've done fly tying demos for them.

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from gtabassin wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Usually, you should go see someone that has experience. You should go check the gear out before buying it. How it feels in your hand and how everything matches up.

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from jcmesq wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Yes, I would do the same, so long as the retailer is selling quality equipment, and providing me with sound advise. Otherwise, my own research and the Internet would prevail. Really, you're paying the extra for the hands-on experience before a purchase, and to pick the retailer's brain, so that's fair. Otherwise, 21st century innovation is going to take over.
I'm old school, and would prefer to do business with hard core anglers, running a retail operation. Yet, I'm not stupid, and I will not tolerate a businessman or woman, treating me as such.

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from WkndWarrior wrote 10 weeks 5 days ago

I've done it. Price is a major factor but so is excellent service. I do do my research online and watch videos, and try to "imagine" the feel for the product, for example, like a fly rod. But you can only get so much from watching videos and the only way to know for sure is to try it out at a local shop. When I say try it out, I mean, pick it up and do a few pretend false casts and oscillate it and compare it to your current rod for action and stiffness. That's what I usually do if the shop, like some of you have explained, don't have room for you to try it. If the deal is good or just slightly more than the online priced version, and the rod is as good as I've imagined it to be when tested. I'll buy it right there at the shop. I'll pay the little extra (no more than $10 more than the online priced version) to have it right then and there. If I know I'm not going to fish for a few days. I'll most likely go home and re-find a cheaper price and order it online. Excellent service at the shop or online does matter and I only do business with stores that I've had excellent service with. Talking to someone knowledgable, ok, that's cool, but don't expect me to buy something, even when I know you're trying hard to sell me the product. I'll play along, for a bit. If you're an annoying dirty salesman, I'll just walk away and won't buy anything from the store, well that part of the store anyways. But if you're cool, like most are, I'll chat about fly fishing and the products you have and test your knowledge on fly fishing and the local locations. And if you're cool, I "may" consider buying something, if not today, then maybe later. But price is still a major factor at the end of the day. That's my 2 cents...

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from Boiler02 wrote 10 weeks 4 days ago

I'm a teacher with a newborn and 3 year old, so price is a big issue with me. I will find as much as I can online. However, I don't 'showroom.'I don't really have the need to do so. The fly show I patronize does well at finding gear that fits my budget when I do go to the shop. I continue to go there because they offer great service and they give pointers about where to fish in my area and where I can find public access. If I went to a place that was all about the sale and didn't provide much in the way of customer service I would be more inclined to 'showroom'

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 10 weeks 3 days ago

If you want to kill the industry, then go ahead and "Showroom".
The Fly Shows are where you should go to try the new rods and see the new products at the manufacturers booth.
Then you support your local guy.

Now that I've said that....many fly shops are their own worst enemies by not being creative. If you want to sell reels, but can't compete with someone on line then toss in backing and a line...loaded in the shop.
The same goes for a rod. Pay full price for a rod...and the shop owner would be smart to give you a dozen flies that match the rod. Pay $400.00 for a wading jacket and they toss in a Shop Cap.

The real reason this happens isn't because of pricing, it's because many of today's shops do a lousy job of servicing.
If you run a shop and stand behind the counter making change and watching videos, you will get what you deserve. If you are smart enough to have events, free coffee, free lessons for women and kids, etc......then you will survive the tough times and this lousy anti-business economy.

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from DeepLines wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I also support my local fly shops. Love the wisdom, stories, and companionship that can come from them. At the same time, I think there is room for the digital revolution as it relates to hunting/fishing.

For example, I'm on the river and having a difficult time fishing. I google "fly fishing strategies for the Yakima" and discover that maybe at this time of year I'm not employing the right tactics. It digi-age can be a beautiful thing. It can open doors to new technologies/techniques with hunting and fishing as well as broadening and exposing this past time that many of us enjoy.

Now...as for this story...I think there is middle ground. All parties involved deserve some credit. First the website that did the research and made recommendations (or at the very least gave the angler a small list to work from) made money off of the angler coming to the website via advertising. The site that sells the rod made revenue from the purchase. Where does this leave the fly shop owner though? That fly shop owner had the chance to seal the deal. Fly shop owners have to get creative when it comes to customers. He could have offered a discount to buy from his shop, maybe he charges a fee to test a product, maybe...in order to test a product you have to register your name, number, email and signup for his fly-shop newsletter? There is middle-ground and it just takes a little creativity to find those win-win-win situations.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I do do the same. I support my local shop which is a little ways away and about $40 is gas round trip. I like the shop because I like the guy who owens it. He is very personable and helpful and he simply has a good shop. But lets face it, a lot of shops are garbage; Flyfisher's paradise in State College is one of them. They are located near one of the countries nicest limestone streams(spring creek) and think they're gods because of that and I refuse to go back in to that place. The guys are arrogant, the stuff is over priced, and you don't get a good experience when you are there. You are treated like a dollar bill and I won't support that. What kills me is that some guys praise the place. I know a guy who guided for them and he says all they care about is $ and nothing else. After booking a couple hundred dollar trip with clients he would get reemed for not selling them the flies he used on the trip and that made him call it quits with the shop

Sorry for the rant but I needed to get that out :)

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Have a buddy who takes "showrooming" to a whole new level. Watched him in a shop once take over an hour of the guys time and I knew all along he was going to get it off Ebay. I don't fish with him anymore. He's the same guy who wants to split the cost of gas to the penny, demands separate checks while eating and goes to the head of the hole first.

Not the qualities I look for in a fishing partner.

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from VAHunter540 wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I have definitely done this with some items but other times I have done my research then gone into the shops to talk with someone who hopefully can break the “tie” I have in my head. If I have it narrowed down and then talk to a guy working the counter and he tells me his experience with one rod vs another or some other piece of equipment or even just his opinion which I am hoping is an informed one (usually it is) from there I will usually purchase the item there at the store. I value that kind of service and don’t mind paying a little extra to get it. Of course if that extra is much more than a quarter or third the cost of the same item online or at one of the big pro shops sometimes the small shops lose out. I will however remember the experience and help I got at the small shop and will most likely visit them again for other purchases and most importantly I will spread the word to my fishing buddies about how helpful and great the shop is.

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from zfisher wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

It is the height of D-Baggery to "showroom". If you're going to take the test drive of the equipment at a shop, then you should buy from them. That said, owners need to be savvy. If they know I can get something for $40 cheaper online, make an offer to split the difference with me. If I walk out, the shop gets nothing. I've yet to have a shop employee try and negotiate to get me to buy something. This all or nothing approach will likely leave them with nothing in the long run.

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from CopperCountry wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I don't mind paying a little extra to support the local economy, and I really appreciate good customer service, but the bottom line is that local businesses still need to earn my business. Top 5 ways to make me buy something on-line:
1. "We can order it for you" -- well so can I, and I can usually get it here faster and cheaper. If the local shop wants my business, they need to have a decent inventory in stock.
2. Businesses that act like customers exist to keep them in business or act like having to deal with customers is a hassle.
3. Ridiculous prices -- I know it costs you a little more for inventory, shipping, employees, etc -- but I'm not willing to pay double.
4. Rude behavior -- my 10 year old son and I were once followed out of a store by an owner who was cussing me out the whole way. Needless to say, I've never been back, and I made sure to tell that story to everybody I talked to for several years. The reason for his hatred? Well, I tried to negotiate with him on his prices.
5. Inconvenient store hours -- If the only times you are open happen to coincide with the times the rest of the world has to be at work, it's a little tough for me to give you some of my money in exchange for something I want.

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Kirk, we need a blog on how to choose a good fishing partner. Hell, you spend hours in the car with them, sleep in the same tent and share the same water bottle. There's gotta be a way to choose wisely.

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from haverodwilltravel wrote 10 weeks 3 days ago

If you want to kill the industry, then go ahead and "Showroom".
The Fly Shows are where you should go to try the new rods and see the new products at the manufacturers booth.
Then you support your local guy.

Now that I've said that....many fly shops are their own worst enemies by not being creative. If you want to sell reels, but can't compete with someone on line then toss in backing and a line...loaded in the shop.
The same goes for a rod. Pay full price for a rod...and the shop owner would be smart to give you a dozen flies that match the rod. Pay $400.00 for a wading jacket and they toss in a Shop Cap.

The real reason this happens isn't because of pricing, it's because many of today's shops do a lousy job of servicing.
If you run a shop and stand behind the counter making change and watching videos, you will get what you deserve. If you are smart enough to have events, free coffee, free lessons for women and kids, etc......then you will survive the tough times and this lousy anti-business economy.

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from themadflyfisher wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I got off subject with that
I do try and buy most of my stuff from a shop but with higher priced items sometimes that extra cost is just too much. Even though I know those are the items I should be buying from the shop because that's a lot of their money sitting on the shelf in inventory and it takes a lot of leader and tippet sales to make that up, but unfortunately I just can't always afford to do that.

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from Rhythm Rider wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

Showrooming is prominent with everything that can be purchased. The fact is fly shops have to find a way to deal with it. I find great value in having a fly shop that stocks merchandise and has great staff. If those shops have no way of negotiating with a customer, or are forced to let merchandise sit on their shelves until some rube comes along and wants to pay full retail.....they're doomed.

An independent drum shop I frequent knows customers showroom. He always is up front about his costs, and always negotiates. He knows what he's talking about, and knows how to keep customers.

Bottom line, companies that hold their supposedly most valuable retailers hostage to their retail pricing are part to blame, and fly shops that can't negotiate with their customers are caught in the squeeze.

I proudly showroom, and use that to my advantage when dealing with shops, and in the end buy from the shops I appreciate. It's not a crime, but it's a joke to act like it is.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

I don't see the flyshops allowing anglers to try out a rod often anyway. Once tried out other than cast on the property, it becomes a used rod. And many shops do not have a place to cast a rod.
The other factor, and you see it demonstrated on this thread, is a high percentage of fly fisherman don't even understand rod "actions", and have it defined well before they buy. And mfging co.'s that set the retail price are price fixing IMO. I had the bossman from SA tell me he could win the case in court if SA felt it would be worthwhile to take it to court.

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from jcmesq wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Yes, I would do the same, so long as the retailer is selling quality equipment, and providing me with sound advise. Otherwise, my own research and the Internet would prevail. Really, you're paying the extra for the hands-on experience before a purchase, and to pick the retailer's brain, so that's fair. Otherwise, 21st century innovation is going to take over.
I'm old school, and would prefer to do business with hard core anglers, running a retail operation. Yet, I'm not stupid, and I will not tolerate a businessman or woman, treating me as such.

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from azduane wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I may research online but I try to support the "brick and mortar" establishments as much as possible. This holds true not only for fishing and hunting equipment but also how I support other stores, like Barnes and Noble for instance. I would hate to lose any of the stores I visit because of the online "replacement". It's just not the same.

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from buckhunter wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Made a visit to a streamside shop in PA once with a buddy of mine. My buddy (he is dead now) was a rich, arrogant snob who demanded the best and did look down his nose when necessary. At the time I had a lot of fly fishing experience but very little money. Anyways, the shop owner recognized I was a non or low paying visitor and never gave me the time of day while he oogled over my buddy and his wallet.

The moral of this story is this: The shop owner made the most money he could from our visit and there is nothing wrong with that.

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from rjw wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Small retailers are the weakest link in the chain, some will survive with great customer service and a loyal customer base and many more will continue to shut down.
Manufacturers (branded) set the pricing, the only choice the retailer has is whether or not they want to carry their products, sure the retailer can talk price with the manufacturer, although that is all it is, talk. You cannot win any argument with a manufacturer, so there is absolutely no need to use the word virtue.
While on vacation I stopped to visit a local fly shop in Montana (Billings) a regular customer came in sparked up a conversation with the owner (friendly & helpful) about a set of waders, guy said the big box store down the street is selling the same waders for less money than him, the store owner became agitated and called the factory and asked why they were cheaper at another location and that was not what the agreement was, price was supposed to be the same across the board, period.
Virtue, really? Dangle nailed it, price fixing, or to be politically correct, free market!

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from rjw wrote 11 weeks 13 hours ago

Dangle
A WalMart with a fly shop?

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from babsfish4life wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

@ dangle - Your SA rep was most likely giving you the price fixing baloney to build the sales relationship. Unless the manufacturer has an agreement on pricing which is almost unheard of. Price fixing on the retail side is where you and your competitors get together and agree to charge triple your cost so there is no option but to overpay. If you look at Black Friday sales they use the same tactic as your competitor, price an item at cost or even lower to get customers in the door and make money from them on other items they purchase.
On the topic at hand, it's a cutthroat business, a small retail business has to give a reason to buy other than prices, if they can't you won't sell. If a small shop is knowledgeable, have what I need, reasonable prices and are convenient they have my business. I don't feel guilty about buying stuff at Walmart but I don't expect them to even know where their customer bathrooms are let alone fishing or hunting questions.

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from RockySquirrel wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Themadflyfisher;

I know a small time gunsmith/gun store like that. I bought and traded a couple guns with him in the past, so he knew I was a serious buyer, but his arrogance just got to me. I now go elsewhere (much further) and pay more, rather then deal with that. I am the customer, not an annoyance, or an interruption while you chat with your buddies.

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from Boiler02 wrote 10 weeks 4 days ago

I'm a teacher with a newborn and 3 year old, so price is a big issue with me. I will find as much as I can online. However, I don't 'showroom.'I don't really have the need to do so. The fly show I patronize does well at finding gear that fits my budget when I do go to the shop. I continue to go there because they offer great service and they give pointers about where to fish in my area and where I can find public access. If I went to a place that was all about the sale and didn't provide much in the way of customer service I would be more inclined to 'showroom'

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from mayoaaron wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I like to support locally owned stores but I hold no allegiance to big national stores

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from treelimit wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Kirk, I guess my answer depends on whether the same fly shop pushes high-end, "overkill" gear on obvious newbies and/or steers them to online resources when what they have in inventory maybe isn't appropriate for either their skill level or budget. In short, the violin plays high notes AND low notes.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 3 days ago

Here's a reality check. Having lots of friends, and then setting up a business, and relying on them to be your core customer doesn't pay the bills. Whether it is an insurance business, or a flyshop. Been there, and witnessed it way too many times. I ran a flyshop in a big classy outdoor outfitter store, and millionaire pro-baseball players would come in, and down the stairs they'd go to our bargain basement. Too much ready info out there today especially, and price becomes a big item. I sure can see why many flyshops are going out of business.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

Coppercountry...Double is just the basic bottomline for a flyshop. Virtually all the hard goods are priced double..cost a $1.00, and sell it for $2.00 I talked to a supplier awhile back, and he said, "shops only make double on their hooks to rods etc." And that is why they have to stock clothing where they get a higher percentage markup, The consumer calls that "double", but the business owner figures it is 50 %. $2 sale, and they get to keep 1/2 of it...50 %.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

And I got showroomed bad on flylines, and sold a ton of them. I carried two brands, SA, and a competitor. Some 5 blocks away, a huge discounter sold SA flylines. And it wasn't hard to know I was being showroomed. An angler would ask me how good SA lines were, and all about the tapers, etc. I'd tell them the competitor brand was far, far better, and make them a lot better fly angler etc. I sold almost no SA flylines. SA knew I was selling lots of flylines, and sent out the big shots from SA to meet with me. "Wazzzup?..your SA line sales are way down."...and I told them why, and the fact the discounter was selling my SA flylines for just about what I was paying for them....And that is when they said they could sue the competitor for price fixing, but that the competitor was so small it wasn't worth their effort.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 2 days ago

I only read several posts past my last one, but those two don't understand the fly fishing industry at all. The mfger sets the price on many items the fly shop stocks. You lose your merchandise line if you lower the price! Cortland 444 flylines, or Sage Rods, and most top of the line rods are sold at one price FIXED by the mfger. And that is just an example. The MFGER can discontinue a rod model, for example, and provide markdowns for all the flyshops that carry them. And a big box store can carry 333 Cortland flylines, but are not allowed to carry the 444 lines that are fixed in price, and only sold to flyshops. You may want to start up a flyshop, and then find out you can not even stock a particular item because there is another shop within 20 miles that they are protecting! I was turned in for marking down a fly line that I just threw on a double on the price sticker. A competitor turned me in, and the mfg rep called, and asked what I was selling the line for. I told them, and the guy says "look on the box. Mark it up, and sell it for that". So I marked it up another 10 % to comply. I sold so many of the lines that my price was 60% off the suggested price not 50 % as I had marked it up. Deals are being done, but not by the small flyshops.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 1 day ago

azduane.....Many of the brick and mortar stores have online shopping. Many of the profitable fly shops have online shopping that are adequately financed. I shop at them, and get good customer service on them. The one that I shop at is a fly shop back East that has an 800 number that I call, and they have a number of closeout sales I take advantage of.

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from Dangle wrote 11 weeks 20 hours ago

Muskie...You are going to extremes. Info is there today, and the lowest price is also there. Guy buys a leader wheel, and gets his info needed...but that doesn't keep the doors of the shop open. Lodges in my area give fishing reports, what flies to use, hatch charts. My big box store posts the fishing reports daily, and flies, water levels, etc. And my WalMart does have a fly shop, and a manager that knows his stuff. I even advertise in the paper to call me if you need to know something. If I don't know I'll tell you who to call. And come over, I'll tie the fly for you, and give you a pattern!

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from Dangle wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Yep. And my friend sets them up. They established them in 4 WalMarts so far out West here. The idea is to raise the class consumer base, and not the appearance of lower level goods. Until Obama came along a lot of WalMart's consumer base had moved up the economic ladder. That, and anglers can buy their fishing license, and one stop shopping for food/beverage, and other goods, and get good info. We are in one of the top fly fishing areas in the country. I've done fly tying demos for them.

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from muskie45 wrote 11 weeks 1 day ago

By all means, shop for the lowest price or complain about inventory or a wait. Don't buy from a local shop because an internet site has a better price. When you have a problem with that great deal, enjoy the frustration, shipping charges, lost time and clueless performance of someone who could care less about your current purchase or continued business. When you need advice about local conditions, send someone at customer service an email.

A good fly shop provides a professional service, but sells product. Better yet, ask a successful guide for his best information and advice FOR FREE. If you don't grasp the difference and consequences of price vs cost, head for your nearest Walmart.

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from gtabassin wrote 10 weeks 6 days ago

Usually, you should go see someone that has experience. You should go check the gear out before buying it. How it feels in your hand and how everything matches up.

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from WkndWarrior wrote 10 weeks 5 days ago

I've done it. Price is a major factor but so is excellent service. I do do my research online and watch videos, and try to "imagine" the feel for the product, for example, like a fly rod. But you can only get so much from watching videos and the only way to know for sure is to try it out at a local shop. When I say try it out, I mean, pick it up and do a few pretend false casts and oscillate it and compare it to your current rod for action and stiffness. That's what I usually do if the shop, like some of you have explained, don't have room for you to try it. If the deal is good or just slightly more than the online priced version, and the rod is as good as I've imagined it to be when tested. I'll buy it right there at the shop. I'll pay the little extra (no more than $10 more than the online priced version) to have it right then and there. If I know I'm not going to fish for a few days. I'll most likely go home and re-find a cheaper price and order it online. Excellent service at the shop or online does matter and I only do business with stores that I've had excellent service with. Talking to someone knowledgable, ok, that's cool, but don't expect me to buy something, even when I know you're trying hard to sell me the product. I'll play along, for a bit. If you're an annoying dirty salesman, I'll just walk away and won't buy anything from the store, well that part of the store anyways. But if you're cool, like most are, I'll chat about fly fishing and the products you have and test your knowledge on fly fishing and the local locations. And if you're cool, I "may" consider buying something, if not today, then maybe later. But price is still a major factor at the end of the day. That's my 2 cents...

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from DeepLines wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I also support my local fly shops. Love the wisdom, stories, and companionship that can come from them. At the same time, I think there is room for the digital revolution as it relates to hunting/fishing.

For example, I'm on the river and having a difficult time fishing. I google "fly fishing strategies for the Yakima" and discover that maybe at this time of year I'm not employing the right tactics. It digi-age can be a beautiful thing. It can open doors to new technologies/techniques with hunting and fishing as well as broadening and exposing this past time that many of us enjoy.

Now...as for this story...I think there is middle ground. All parties involved deserve some credit. First the website that did the research and made recommendations (or at the very least gave the angler a small list to work from) made money off of the angler coming to the website via advertising. The site that sells the rod made revenue from the purchase. Where does this leave the fly shop owner though? That fly shop owner had the chance to seal the deal. Fly shop owners have to get creative when it comes to customers. He could have offered a discount to buy from his shop, maybe he charges a fee to test a product, maybe...in order to test a product you have to register your name, number, email and signup for his fly-shop newsletter? There is middle-ground and it just takes a little creativity to find those win-win-win situations.

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