This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
March 17th, 2008

Seasonal Stocking?

The 'industry' magazine, Fishing Tackle Retailer, features a couple articles in the March issue relating to WAL-MART. The bottom line being that the big box stores are cutting back on the amount of fishing tackle they carry. Somehow WAL-MART has become the bell-weather recently for fishing. That makes about as much sense as looking at the number of chickens produced in any given year as the indicator for how much money will be spent on fly fishing.

WAL-MART is not the fly fishing Mecca for America. They sell tons of stuff, but to base the state of the fly fishing industry on whether WAL-MART decides to only stock some items seasonally isn't very bright.

I would expect that the big stores have budgets, allocate buying power to those areas which produce the largest return for the buck. That is called business. How many fishing lures does one have to sell to match the return on a $2,000 Plasma TV? Take that one item a little further, how many lures would the store have to stock to make the same margin? Difference in stock, inventory, pricing and work to maintain the same floor or shelf space?

I read one article which complained about how 'impersonal' the announcement was made regarding the decision to cut tackle. What? Frankly I'm amazed WAL-MART officially even talks to any media people.

I'm not necessarily a big wally world fan, but on the other hand, I just bought a dandy bread machine for $44. It works just fine. I've bought hair-care products, lots of plants for the garden, decorations and Christmas goodies, brand-name food products and felt I did very well on the quality for the money spent.

They do have clothing, shoes, appliances - nearly anything a person could ask for. Frankly our local store is terrific.

But here's something to ponder: Do you think Sunbeam (manufacturer of the bread machine) sends out an editorial in whatever their trade magazine is, to the effect that WAL-MART has cut back on the number of bread machines it sells? (And of course the industry is in big trouble because of it?) Or that because of a string of commentary on the Fly Anglers OnLine Bulletin Board about bread machines, Sunbeam is upping the number of bread machines it will produce for the 2nd quarter of 2008? You wouldn't read that one in any case since good news doesn't sell magazines.

I would love to be a mouse at the corporate meetings of any of the big fly fishing manufacturers, how do they really set the number of new products they will introduce in any given year? How about the type and price range? How long is any new item in planning before it is actually introduced?

We really are very blessed here. We have at our disposal all of the major big-box stores, from Home Depot to WAL-MART. The only ones we are missing is Bass Pro and Cabellas or Gander Mountain. If you can't find the product you want at those, you can hope the local sporting goods store is still in business.

And then there always is the Internet! E-Commerce and Ebay. I don't recall seeing those blamed for the demise of fly fishing.

The bottom line is it isn't any of the stores. It is us and our changing life style. ~ The LadyFisher

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