Every once in a while a piece of equipment
dies and a new one has to be obtained. This
week our slide scanner bit the dust. My husband,
Castwell, took the slide scanner, the CPU, software
and all the various cables down to Omega1 Computers.
Omega1 does the service on all our computer stuff,
including our web servers over in Seattle. They
tried a bunch of things and finally pronounced it
dead. They did not have a slide scanner in their
store, so Castwell went over to Best Buy. There
were ten scanners which would do the job. The one
he bought had a $50 rebate, a flatbed that scans
slides too, and many times better than the old one.
In fact the photo on the front/main page this week
of Leon Chandler was done with the new scanner.
We bought the old one used, from Al Campbell, who
had upgraded his system. The original cost on it
was around $600.
The new one, vastly superior, with rebate was about $100.
Or is it?
The lower cost is a direct result of improvements
in technology and something called competition.
There are some interesting comments on our Bulletin
Board regarding the "Big Companies Scared?" and "Fly
Shops." The opinions are about evenly split on
whether catalog outfits, Cabalas in particular,
should be selling Sage and Simms products; and
if that affects the local fly shop. There were
more than a few comments indicating people weren't
thinking any further than the end of their nose.
Maybe not that far.
The Fly Shop topic is again split between arrogant
yuppie stores and those who take the time and
interest in their potential customer to create
an ongoing relationship. I have no way of knowing
what your fly shop is like, even if you have one
in reasonable driving distance. But I do know
things are changing in the fly fishing industry.
Smaller, perhaps marginally profitably manufacturing
companies are being bought by larger companies who
will either turn those small companies into profitable
ones, or drop them. It has already happened with some
which 3/M Scientific Anglers purchased. One purchased
in that deal bought itself back and expanded. That
is Rainy's Flies. While I do occasionally hear
complaints that one of the purchased companies isn't
what it was, for the most part they are more than
This trend toward consolidation isn't going to end
any time soon. In real business, losers aren't given
a pat on the head and told "it's ok" - they go out
of business. Any business which has survived over
three years will probably be fine, unless they are
in debt up to their eyeballs.
Just because a person has a great idea and knows how
to produce, it doesn't mean their business sense
and/or expertise is equal to the demands of business.
The same applies to fly shops. How many guys have
as their dream owning a fly shop on some neat piece
of water? They may be excellent anglers, great tyers,
treat the customers with respect and interest - but - what
do they know about merchandising? Buying? Paying
taxes? Hiring employees? Managing cash-flow?
Are they willing to give FREE classes on tying? Rod
building? Casting? All of which bring dollars into
the store, as well as create a loyal customer base.
The unfortunate thing is there are a lot of shops
run by guys with the dream who don't have a clue
about business - and they go under.
Does or should the Internet constitute unfair business
practices? Having a brick and mortar store does not
mean the shop can't have a good website - with ecommerce.
Let's face it, a local fly shop has a limited number
of customers. Once the shop has sold all the attorneys
and doctors high end fly rods, the pickings get slim.
Following 9/11 those shops who depended on travel to
exotic places to pump up sales were hit hard. Now,
two years later, the travel industry is just beginning
to see real improvement.
So if you are sitting in your underwear some evening
after your local store has closed and you're thinking
about a new fly reel, doesn't it make sense for the
store to have a website where you can check it out?
Isn't that considered 'service?' Aren't you
personally more likely to shop where you get service?
Wouldn't you rather purchase that reel locally - even
if it is off their website? After all, if there is
a problem you can actually go in and talk to them.
Or is it price? If price is the number one consideration,
make sure you add up handling and shipping charges before
you place the order. There may not be that much difference
in price! Major companies do have agreement/contracts
as to what the retail price should be. And frankly,
if I find something remarkably below what I know should
be the price I am suspicious as heck.
There are more excellent high-end rods right now than
any time in the history of fly fishing. There are more
really fine moderate-priced rods now than at any time
in the history of fly fishing - and there are more
really good entry level rods right now than at any
time in the history of fly fishing. Why?
Because of competition. If those rods, in all
categories were not selling, guess what? They would
be gone! It is competition which has driven the
quality up and prices down. The companies producing
them must also have excellent customer service - or
(one more time) they will be gone.
I am not particularly a big Cabalas fan, although
we do have some shirts we bought there years ago
which are still great. But I do know their story,
the two brothers started out with a mail-order flier
and did the business from their kitchen table.
They grew the business out of cash-flow and have been
enormously successful. Hurrah for them. If they can
offer their customers a wider variety of products that's
terrific. They bought into providing their catalog on
the Internet early and grabbed another slice of the
market. That's called having business sense.
Be aware they have competition too! There are
several stores with similar product lines, some
are also doing catalogs, and some are also on the
Internet. There isn't a free ride for any of them.
Some stores will go to great lengths to get your
business. Remember Castwell buying the new scanner?
Best Buy here is open 24 hours a day. Is that going
to extremes to get your business?
Maybe not. Customer service comes in many forms.
How about the Sponsors here on FAOL? This website is
their gift to you.
Before you trash companies, fly-shops or websites make
sure you are not just turning a blind eye toward progress.
It is how we got here! ~ The LadyFisher
If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to
post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!