Monday, February 6, 2017

The Suicide Of The Small Outdoors Shop

A recent thread on the TKAA forum caught my attention.

TKAA (Tidewater Kayak Anglers Association) is the best place to find information about kayak fishing in the Tidewater area. The forum members are smart and helpful. The threads do not get bogged down with flame wars and there are no overly opinionated, know-it-all-jerk-faces who ruin the experience, like so many other fishing forums have. You should check them out!

Back to the subject:  The original poster stated a desire to start a small business specializing in kayak fishing equipment. He wanted some advice on doing so.

Most of the responses were encouraging, but skeptical. Competition and overhead were two of the obstacles brought up.

I'd like to add another obstacle. It is a roadblock to all small outdoors stores, not just tackle, bait, or fly shops.

Sportsmen are becoming fed up with the uninformed, rude, crappy service commonly found in these small shops.

It is not competition that is going to eventual kill the small tackle shop. Everyone knows when they enter a small shop that their prices are going to be higher and their selection is going to be smaller. I don't patronize small shops for their selection or prices. I do it for their service.

The expectation when shopping in a small shop is that you will be treated with kindness, that service will be prompt, and the sales staff will have a clue what they are talking about!

When I go to Bass Pro, I expect the staff to know nothing about hunting or fishing. Every time I try to ask a question I get a blatantly wrong answer. Once I overheard a sales man trying to convince a hunter that you needed at least a 7mm Mag to cleanly kill a deer in Virginia. (For those who don't hunt, a 7mm Mag is a very powerful round, almost overkill for the small deer in Virginia.)

The other day at Dicks Sporting Goods, I was discussing dolphin fishing with a staff member. He thought I was talking about the porpoise. I could understand this confusion from someone who never fished, buy anyone familiar at all with ocean fishing would know the difference.

In a small shop, I expect the salesman to know his product. However, in recent years I have found this to not be the case. When visiting a tackle shop in South Carolina, I asked a question about a reels gear ratio. The salesman looked at me like I had two heads. In the Outer Banks I asked what bait was recommended for surf fishing. The salesman just shrugged.

An even bigger concern than not knowing the answer to my question is that I have found small shop owners giving me wrong or bad advice. When purchasing a kayak recently, a $1200 purchase, the salesman answered many of my questions wrong. I only found out after doing my own research at home.

If this happened once, I would understand, but is happens every single time I go into a small shop. It does not seem to matter where or when I go.

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