Welcome to Eye of the Guide

Part Twenty-three

"My Shop"
By Al Campbell

Occasionally someone shows up in my fly shop looking for a guide with the belief he can't get any useful information without hiring someone to show him where to fish. Now, that might be the way it is in other shops, but not in mine. I take a different approach to business.

If you show up in my shop looking for a place to fish, I'll hand you a map and circle the hot spots for you. I'll also point out the public places where anyone can fish and let you know where they've been biting the best.

If you show up in my shop I'll hand you a list of local hatches that details the sizes, colors and areas of the most prominent hatches. The list will include drawings of the most prominent insects and approximate hatch times of each on the local streams.

If you show up in my shop you'll find several magazine articles about local streams that list pertinent information about that stream for all to read. Someone will be near by to answer all your questions and help you in fly or equipment selection. You'll find pages of helpful information on fly lines, rods, leaders, tippets, insects, knots and many other things. If you're a beginner, you'll be handed a handout loaded with timely information to help you with equipment selection and insect identification.

If you show up in my shop you won't have to search for someone to give you a hand. There are times it gets busy, but someone will be there to help you as soon as they are finished with the other customer they are helping. You won't be ignored, no matter how you look, like you may have been in other shops. Some of my best customers look like they need to borrow the money for their next meal. They shop at my shop because someone is always there to help them, and that makes a difference.

If you show up in my shop you won't find a bunch of people crowded around a coffee pot swapping fishing lies. Sure, lies are told in vast quantities in my shop, but there isn't a snooty "good old boys club" to drive beginners and visitors away. The elitism of some of those folks is enough to ruin any business.

If you show up in my shop no one will pressure you to hire a guide. Most of the water in my area is easy to fish, and a guide isn't needed unless you really don't know how to fish. If you need casting lessons, you need casting lessons, not a guide. If you really need a guide, one can be arranged, but you'll never feel pressured to hire one by the people in my shop.

If you buy a fly fishing outfit in my shop, it will be assembled for you and you'll receive a short lesson on how to use it before you leave. No charge, it's part of the service that goes with the purchase. Everyone likes to think they got something for nothing, and the short casting lesson (about 15 to 30 minutes) is free if you do your business at my shop.

If I happen to be going fishing and you're going fishing too, I might invite you to join me. No, not as a guided client, just to enjoy a few hours with me on a local stream. I'll bring my fly rod and camera. I'll fish with you and take pictures. I would rather fish than guide, so I won't be asking for a fee, just the right to use any pictures I take in any ethical manner I wish to use them.

Some people have told me they were surprised at the simple attitude we display at my shop. Some have returned many times from many miles away to do business there because they didn't feel left out or rejected even though they were beginners. Some have returned every year from several distant states to do business there because they were given the helpful advice they needed without the pressure to pay for it.

I get a lot of referrals from people who have visited my shop. People tell me they were told to stop in and visit by others who have visited. They claim others have said my shop is unique because we are so friendly. Hmmm, I wonder why?

If you wonder why we have such a different approach to managing a fly shop, it's simple. It's what I call "good business." Everyone wants to be treated like they belong where they're at. If I treat people like they belong, they'll come back. If the guy with the answers doesn't try to act like the 'god' with the answers, you'll feel at home there and maybe you'll visit me again. Maybe you'll become a regular customer.

If you show up at my shop you'll notice I don't own it. I manage it as if it were my own, but it's part of a much larger sporting goods store. Our philosophy is "repeat business is the best business" so we try to treat you right the first time.

If you show up in my shop look me up, I'm always glad to meet a new customer, especially if that customer is new to our area. We want you to visit. We want you to return. We just have that attitude, in "my"shop.

I'm always glad to answer questions, email me or stop by my South Dakota website.

~ Al Campbell

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