While I’m trying to puncture a few work balloons, discuss the following gem from Singlebarbed amongst yourselves, where he (ahem) disagrees with something from the recent issue of Angling Trade:
It’s probably their best issue yet, but after digesting it from cover to cover I’m unsettled by some of the commentary.
Maybe we should all wake up and smell the coffee. It isn’t about hair salons, or Costco, or even big box stores and direct sales over the Internet. It’s about who really cares about fly shops, and who backs words with action. Any action. Think on that, and you already know who has your back, and who doesn’t.
Naturally I’ve got my own ideas about how all this is supposed to work, and knowing that us taxpayers share an increasing frustration over posturing politicians, CEO’s, and those that nearly bankrupted the economy, yet I’m still a little surprised that someone would think we owe anything to anyone that wasn’t earned the old fashioned way.
Why does someone in this industry think I owe an underfunded childhood fantasy a decent living?
If you’ve got something to say about that topic, best to discuss it over at Singlebarbed (there are a lot of good points being made).
One comment I will make centers around an often-repeated fallacy — that the “Internet” is dealing a death blow to the fly shops disappearing from the landscape.
First, the “Internet” is basically plumbing; if someone’s buying online — and putting the boots to a local fly shop — they’re still buying from a person or a company apparently offering a better value proposition, not some malevolent entity with a grudge against brick & mortar shops.
So why is buying online so attractive?
It’s not uncommon for a USA-based “manufacturer” to source goods overseas, so the chain can look like this: overseas manufacturer to US-based company to rep (or distributor) to fly shop to you — the fly angler harboring suspicions of being overcharged.
That’s a lot of steps, and each takes their pound of flesh.
Contrast that with the ability of today’s fly fisherman to sometimes reach directly overseas via the Internet — buying goods directly from the people making them.
At the very least, it’s not hard to prune a couple steps from that supply chain (along with a couple of markups), and it’s little surprise the number of “direct-to-consumer” fly rod companies has grown the last couple years — or that fly shops are now selling their own branded fly rods (three steps instead of five).
Where it gets a little strange is when someone puts forth the idea that fly fishermen — or even the fly fishing industry — are somehow obligated to protect that original, inefficient supply chain.
Other industries — including my own — have been upended by the advent of digital goodies and the Intertubes, and while plenty of tears have been shed, I can’t remember hearing anyone seriously suggest we all pull together to push back the essentially irresistible forces of change.
Fly fishing won’t be any different.
A guide friend of mine once said that the industry is fighting tooth and nail to avoid change instead of embracing it, and I’d say there are a lot of cracks appearing in the facade.
Some companies — especially the self-contained ones — seem to be doing fine.
Those that can’t budge had better deliver a hell of a value proposition, or get used to hearing that flushing sound.