Today I went into a new big box store that has come to Little Rock. We are very excited to welcome them to our state. It is a win win for specialty retailers as well as our sport. I wish I could say I bought my first fly rod at a fly shop. That is actually not true. I bought my first rod at Montgomery Ward (Many Many) years ago. The big box store can bring more people to the sport and introduce people into fly fishing that would never come to either of our stores. My hope is the people buying from the big box stores actually start off on the right foot. Once a customer wants to take the next step in fly fishing, or have specific questions, they will hopefully come our way.
Differences in the big box store and The Ozark Angler.
1) A customer came in with a broken fly rod that they bought from this store yesterday. It broke last night when they were practicing casting in the lawn. The employee called the fishing manager and he told him that he needs to send back the rod to their repair department. The customer was a little irritated.
This happens almost every day at The Ozark Angler. Accidents happen. A big difference is we try to offer amazing service. We handle the entire repair for our customers/friends. If the customer needs a loaner rod for the time being then we have plenty of rods to lend.
2) A customer wanted to cast a rod and try it out while in the store today. Of course everyone is brand new at the new store so again they called the person in charge. There is not a place in the store or outside the store to try the product out. A customer just needs to take the sales persons word for it or pick the rod and reel that fits in their price range.
We will rig up the rods and take you into the parking lot and give you casting lessons if needed or let you try out any rod you would like. Many rods we also own so if you want to try a rod on the river before buying we can usually accommodate.
3) I actually helped customers today at another store. Unfortunately they were giving bad advise. A customer asked what to use on The Little Red River this weekend for a new fly fisher. He walked the customer over to spinner baits. This may work but the customer wanted to fly fish for trout so I gave him advise and picked some flies for him to use this weekend. (Man I need to earn a commission check).
In our stores every one of us ties flies, fly fishes as much as possible and this sport is in our blood. We will put our friends/customers in the right spots with the right flies to be successful.
Other major differences include not offering travel, fly tying classes, guide trips, free advice, free coffee ,locally tied flies, knot instruction and passion for our sport.
Myths about the Big Box Store
1) They have a better selection.
Wrong!!!! Our stores carry much more inventory and carry all the top brands. I was surprised that they really concentrated on "Their own fly fishing brand" and a few skus from Orvis, TFO and Ross. Nothing I saw was made in America either.
2) Big box stores are cheaper.
Wrong!!!!! I did not see one thing today we charge 1 penny over what they do. If you find a product we charge more for let us know and we will fix that. Our prices are exactly the same.
3) Service doesn't matter.
Gosh I can't disagree more. Service is why we have been around 24 years. We celebrate 25 in 2014!!!!!
Anyway this could go on forever but you get the point.