March 17th, 2008

Things getting better?
By James Castwell

It just could be there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train coming at us. Let me take us back a ways first though. Years ago a small lunch counter served a terrific hamburger, had avocado on it if you wanted it. Then they dropped it from the menu. The cost of the avocados had gone up. They stopped selling it. I asked them why they didn't just raise the price of the burger. That had not occurred to them. Later on they noticed that Mondays were the slowest day of the week. To save money, they closed on Mondays. That made Tuesdays the slowest. They closed on Tuesdays.

I think you see where this is leading. Yes, they went out of business. They just could not make ends meet being open only on the weekends.

So, now let's try to remember the days of yesterday, the times of the local hardware stores. Nuts, bolts, hammers tools, outdoor clothing, guns, knives, fishing gear, bait and one chap in particular who everyone knew well. He owned the place. Could answer just about any question on just about anything you might need to know. Now it might be true that in the spring he stocked a few more minnow traps than in the late fall. And he had a wider selection of large bore guns in the fall than in the spring.

He had the newest selection of fishing rods and baits in the early spring though, that was his job. Keep the inventory stocked and appropriate to the coming season. He did not pack up all of his guns in the spring, nor all the fly rods in the fall. He looked at the big picture on a year around basis. He was not driven by the sales receipts each and every night. Nor week for that matter. It was his store and he knew how to make a living with it.

So let's say the town booms. Grows like crazy. He needs to stock way more goods. He takes in a partner, in fact a few of them, sells off a few bits of stock. Now they all want to make money on their stock. They must be smarter than he is, after all, they had the money to invest, he didn't. So they think they should call the shots on how the store is operated. Now, he is working for them, no longer in business 'for himself'.

When the control switches like that some good things happen at first. Prospects look good. Major credit becomes cheap and easy. Growth is phenomenal. Then someone starts to notice that 'Mondays' are the slowest day so to speak. That is kind of what is happening in the fly fishing game with the big box type stores. Why they are replacing the fly gear with lipstick and diapers. Facts show there is more money per cubic foot and that is the whole game. And it does not require as talented a clerk to handle the sales.

The pendulum is swinging back. The shops that stood the test of time will once again have a chance to make it. Sure they may have to really watch how they buy goods and how often they blow their profits and how the manufacturers treat them, but, they are coming back on line.

When you don't find what you use to at 'Billy-Bob's' mega store you will go back to Fred's Bait and Tackle or your local Pro Shop; hopefully they are still hanging on. So quit whining that the big outfit that came into your town doesn't have all the fly fishing things you want at dirt cheap prices. They can't afford to carry them. They make more on diapers and lipstick and could not care less about you. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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