It felt good to be back in the shop today! I have once again embraced the idea of e-cigs and nicotine…seems to make me a little less edgy and more fulfilled overall. Quitting is for losers and I'm just not a quitter…I smoke, leave me alone…didn't that speaker of the house say that once?
We have had lots of things going on this winter and spring, seems like we always do to tell the truth. In addition to more gear from more manufacturers, we've been busy with fly fishing schools, guiding, and getting some new staff acclimated.
As with all changes, there is always "more to the story." Oftentimes there are so many changes going on that I have a hard time keeping the stories straight myself.
We have added more brands to our product mix in a never ending quest to make it easy for people to do business with Fins & Feathers while trying to stick to our theme of helping to make fly fishing fun for everyone that heads out to the water. Sometimes when we add a brand, people assume that it has something to do with what is lacking or some perceived deficiency in another brands product line. That really isn't the case in our situation…most of the time. It typically comes down to what people have been asking for, in addition to what we already have to offer. So, just because we bring in a new line of tippet, rods, nets, reels, lines, etc., it doesn't mean that the brands we already carry wouldn't suffice. It just means that someone came in and asked for it, tried to buy it from us, and couldn't. A lot of the times we have something that will work instead, but not always. So, if we have room in the shop and folks want it, we try to get it for them. We appreciate the efforts people make when they try to bring their business to us and we try to make that transaction easy and simple without telling them that they really don't want brand X.
It's a complicated thing really and it gets frustrating when I get crap from one manufacturer or another when we add a new line. The truth is that there has never been so much great equipment available at so many price points from so many manufacturers. About the only thing we try to totally stay away from is stuff that we simply have had experiences with as junk. There may be a lot of junk out there as well, but it all seems pretty good to me these days.
The true truth of "brand diversification" in our experience has been that the more choices we give to folks, the more things we sell. The more things we sell helps us provide better service, with the ultimate goal of trying to make it fun and easy to get what you want to get on the water and catch some fish. It helps us to have more cash to pay our bills on time so that we can order more stuff when we sell what we already have. This, in turn makes it easier for folks to know that they can come see us and get what they need/want when they need/want it. Our employees stick around longer, are generally happier, and are able to make a living in the sport that they/I love. So, it's not about this sucks or that isn't good enough, it's really all about making sure that Joe & Jan can stop by with the comfort of knowing that they can get their rubberlegs, wire tippet, waders, and new fly line and hopefully some solid advice too on their way to the water, without the BS of being sold or told that they really don't want what they came in looking for. There are exceptions like when the guy comes in wanting a Tarpon line to use for arctic char or a 9 weight for the Firehole opener!
Moving on, we recently added a new employee that comes to us with nearly 20 years in the fly shop world. Jim Carter, aka Yankee Jim, joined our team at the first of May and has been an real pleasure to have around. He spent several years at Greater Yellowstone Fly Fishers and The River's Edge here in Bozeman, so he has some really great experience and even a bit of expertise too. In case you are wondering, no it wasn't a nasty thing when he left RE to came to work for us. Fly shop life can get pretty tedious after awhile and he was simply ready for a change, I thought it was pretty courageous of Jim to be honest. Leaving a solid, well established business to go join the ranks of disorganized chaos in the "little green shed out at 4-corners!"
I've always liked and respected the RE guys, they are great people and run an excellent business that I try my best to imitate in many ways. They are the real deal…too. I haven't heard much negative chatter about Jim joining F&F, but I thought I'd just put it out there that there really isn't any negative chatter to be had.
Back to the back room and puffing on e-cigs while staring at spreadsheets in the morning, waiting for Salmonflies, in the morning.