It's been a great run with Watauga River Fly Shop, but we are now officially closing shop at the end of October. We have met some amazing people and made a lot of great friends along the way! I am constantly being asked why we are closing the shop and only guiding. There are many factors to this decision and here are a few answers:
1.) We love to fish! The shop has been great and I have really enjoyed spending time in the shop and talking fishing to everyone that comes in, but myself and all of our employees would much rather be on the water. We have been extremely fortunate to have Dave managing the shop so Brad, Dustin and I can be on the water. After a long day of guiding, I still have to spend a lot of time keeping up with the daily routine of having a retail space. Not having to worry about that, will be a great relief and that means more time on the water, so we can give our clients the best experience possible!
2.) Retail is rapidly changing. Brick and mortar stores are feeling the pressure more and more from online retail. I made a conscious effort to try to carry brands that did not sell directly to the public and were only sold at your local fly shop. These companies are doing a great job for promoting small businesses, but at the same time, any and all of these products can be bought on your phone, sitting on your couch. The past couple years I have seen an increased amount of people 'test driving' products only to find the best price online. If any of these people would have asked, we would have matched the best price they found anywhere else. So, next time see what your local fly shop will do for price matching! Wouldn't you rather your money go to a local small business as opposed to Jeff Bezos!
3.). Hwy 105! The reason I purchased the property the fly shop sits on is simply because of location, location, location! I knew 105 was being widened, but all of the previous plans were sparing the shop. Now that plans have changed, the most logical sense was to find property somewhere else on 105. The problem is, HWY 105 is going to be widened from Boone to Linville...eventually! There are multiple properties that could have been potential spots to relocate, but we'd be going through this same problem down the road. It may not be now, but eventually there will be some major construction on ALL of 105. Regardless, there is no property better for a fly shop in the area. It was the perfect spot for a fly shop. I got a hell of a deal on the property and it paid off. I did not buy a shop so that a guide service can float it. I wanted them to pay for themselves equally...and they did. I may not have the nicest shop with the most product, but one thing that kills more small businesses is overhead. I had what I was comfortable with and what made financial sense.
Why not move to Boone? Overhead! You have to sell a lot of flies to pay for what they want for rent in Boone. Most people don't realize that it's the small purchases that keep a fly shop going. Flies, leader, tippet, etc. are what pay the bills and I flat out wasn't comfortable with the costs it would take to operate in Boone. I knew the shop would have to be supplemented by increasing our guide trips. I want our clients to get the best possible experience. Right now, I know they will get 100% every time from some of the most knowledgeable guides in the area. I was never willing send a client out on a trip without knowing they would have a great experience. I'm not sacrificing quality to make a few extra bucks. Don't get me wrong...there can be, and are, successful fly shops in and around Boone, but it wasn't gonna be me. My head is always wondering when I can get on the water and now I know I will always be able to be on the water!
All of that being said, we have been lucky to have such amazing support from our community, customers and clients! We have formed some great relationships with so many wonderful people in the fishing community and we will happily recommend a couple of local shops to anyone that asks. We are now solely focusing on having the best guide service possible. We want to expand our services and will have some new offerings soon. Again, thank you so much for your support and we look forward to seeing you on the water!