Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Sometimes I just shouldn't
It's the downside of the middle of another crazy week in what should very much not be a crazy time of year! Seems like I've been going faster than I should be since about this time last year. It's not a bad thing, but I feel like I'm getting older quicker and I should have been paying more attention to that 20 years ago.
We've hired a couple new folks to work in the shop and are excited to have some fresh blood and new points of view coming our way. Still trying to get the remodel wrapped up along with making room for the new merchandise that's starting to show up.
One big deal for us is that we're a new dealer for Patagonia and we received our first shipment of stuff today. There's a story in this whole process that I'd love to share with everyone, but sometimes I speak my mind and tell just a little too much of the truth...In a nutshell, I've always been a big fan of the gooch as a company and their products. Their fly fishing line is a strong compliment to what we already offer, plus we've now got access to some of the best outdoor clothing in the world. How many of you have had a Capeline or a Retro Pile for going on 15 years now? It's good stuff that works well and holds up even better.
The decision to bring it on was a difficult one to make on one hand, but a no brainer on the other. Like Orvis, Patagonia is a big player in the world of conservation and promoting "greenness," water conservation, and so on. That fact is something we take seriously, although don't promote nearly as much as we should, and it's great to be associated with another company that puts their money where there mouth is when it comes to taking care of the good ol' green earth.
So often in today's fly fishing circles, the reality of diminishing resources and fragile ecosystems gets lost in all the banjo songs and high fives of "extreme fly fishing" videos, photos, and the overall culture. Companies that the money, pre-tax, and put it towards the cause deserve more appreciation by all of us and that's a big part of why we've chosen to get on board with Patagonia.
That said, there were a host of "business" decisions that factored into this process that came as a a result of tedious hours spent staring at spreadsheets, market share data, and sales reports. We needed away to grow our business more in the categories of wader, wading boots, and clothes and Patagonia seems like a great fit on that end of things as well.
We would have loved to support Simms as well given that they are a hometown company, make great products, and are going to be located about 400 yards from our shop in just a few months. Who knows, maybe that will happen someday but we just couldn't make it work this year. Simms has some distribution issues with opening another dealer in Bozeman, especially us given the proximity to an existing dealer. I know I know...you go to Craig, Mt and find two dealers about 100 yards apart...but that's different. Simms was willing to let us carry a limited selection of their clothing through an embroidery program, but not their waders, boots, packs, and their accessories. With no guarantee that things would change in the future, it just didn't seem like the best thing to do when I had the opportunity to carry Patagonia's full line of fishing and clothing.
The other reason has to do with Orvis and the fact that they are working hard on revamping their wader and boot lines. Right now, they are really strong in the lower price points in these categories in terms of quality and value, but the higher end items have not lived up to our expectations. Honestly, I think they will get it sorted out by 2013 and bring some killer new stuff to market in that time frame. While they might not have the "rep" that Simms does now in waders, I'm pretty sure that they will get it right much like they have the last few years with rods, reels, lines, packs, and more. So, it just didn't make sense to go all in with Patagonia and Orvis when I had to be very limited with what I could offer with Simms.
We use and abuse Orvis gear just about everyday on the water and wouldn't use it and sell it if it didn't live up to our expectations. It maybe hard to believe as I sell the stuff, but you'd be surprised at how hard it is for me to "endorse" or recommend something I don't believe in. My philosophy about fly fishing retail has always been that our job is to make our customers time on the water more fun. Fun means different things to different anglers, but at the end of the day...shitty gear makes for a not so fun day. Orvis gear has consistently made my days on the water more fun for a lot of years now, so we're not going away from the Big O in anyway. Oh and it also helps us and our customers catch a shitpile of fish...most days which can be pretty damn fun too...if you don't take yourself too seriously that is.
So now we are able to offer "best in class" waders, boots, and clothing by a couple of companies that support fly fishing by investing not only in their products but also the soul of the sport. We're as excited as we've ever been about where things are headed and plan on sticking true to the course by offering great values at every price point to fly fishers of all sorts.