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

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?