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Amy Hazel’s Deschutes Angler Fly Shop. A lucky client with big mykiss.

The new fly shop?

By Skip Clement 

COVID 19 changed my buying habits. It snowballed into action when forced to find a new go-to fly shop, mine closed its doors and moved back to its home base, but without much of an online position.

I felt terrible; some great young people had to restart – “Find something new,” which isn’t the same as “Let them eat cake,” but just as an unfeeling, and in this marketplace, it is hard to restart even if young, enthusiastic, and bright.

The virus didn’t create a good job market, and with no plan to reply to it found America not leading the pandemic recovery but with third world country creds and too many unnecessarily dead, and a fearful populace.

Brave new world

That said, I found that the shops that we’re proactive and had a significant online presence faired well or at least much better than stayed or had yesterday’s operations.

My initial response was to utilize Amazon, which resulted in fast delivery – even with the slowdown, but many returns. Not lousy product but misleading ads from outlier companies, not the usual trusted players like RIO Products and Orvis. But often I’d get company speak on a product knowledge question from big company sales department types, which was not what I was looking for.

Brown trout Salmo trutta by Thom Glace, award-winning watercolorist/Illustrator.

Unsatisfied, I started a project

I began calling brick and mortar fly shops with big online stores like Red’s in Ellensburg, Washington, Mad River Outfitters in Columbus, Ohio; The Fish Hawk in Atlanta, Georgia, and others. What happened there was almost what happened when I went to my brick and mortar fly shop. I’d ask about something, and I’d get a synopsis performance review with some caveats, back and forth would take place, and sorting out would happen, and I’d order. So far, the shipping has been most often expensive, but not always, and never deal-breaking.

Why I can deal with a brick and mortar fly shop and order from them online:

1. I would end up getting what I wanted, and it was sometimes not the brand I had inquired about ordering.

2. I was getting a review from someone who has the same or similar experiences as I do. I was comfortable that the salesperson had knowledge, and they were comfortable with me as well.

3. I’d get a recap of performance pros and cons, and the salesperson could care less if I bought brand A or brand B. They wanted me to get what I needed; there was no personal benefit to them to lie, shade the truth, or be uncaring.

4. The personnel was not nameless people. If I had a question, I’d call “Sharon” back – not the company.

5. The salesperson wanted me as a return customer.

6. An instore fly shop salesperson can get me anything I want. If something is coming up on sale, Sharon will text me.

Capt. Andrew Derr with a nice albie off the coast of Montauk 2007. Photo Pat Ford. Good tip – book now. It’s going to be a spectacular run this year.


Author Skip

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