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December 12, 2008

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Holiday Commercials

It's the most wonderful time of the year alright... and that means we get bombarded every time we turn on the television with the gifts that keep on giving... holiday commercials! (Hey, at least they are better than political ads!) If you really want a fix on the state of our nation, take a while and notice those ads. Ah... the best gift ever, from Lexus. Oh... "He Went to Jared..." How sweet.

Wal-Mart has the most ads of all, and different ones too!! My favorite of all is the family bouncing around the living room to Pat Benatar music (that, right there, should be enough to turn you off) after mom went to Wal-Mart, and bought the "Guitar Hero" video game extra cheap (rated T for "teen," though all the kids bouncing in the commercial are in footie pajamas). Because mom got that video game, bless her soul... "their family is always together!" How wonderful!

If that's not a sign of the impending apocalypse, I don't know what is.

Here's a commercial: Go to a fly shop for your last minute shopping. You don't have to spend a ton. Buy some socks. Or a book. Or a half dozen flies. Or a baseball cap. Or some lip balm. Of course, if you want to get something to inspire family togetherness that doesn't involve eating Cheetos and playing video games... like, oh, say getting a kid a fly rod... that's up to you. But go to a family business. Go to a place where the people care about flyfishing. And then buy at least one little thing, if for no other reason than to show those folks you care. Because I can tell you that they need us now, more than ever.

I promise it will put you in the holiday spirit much more than any television ad will.



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cutthroat stalker

Excellent suggestion! I know the owners of our local fly shop are hurting with the economic "downturn." They barely make ends meet during a regular year, each spring reevaluating whether or not they will stick it out another year. I'm sure this is killing them. Most of the shop owners I know are extremely nice, always willing to suggest places to fish, equipment, etc. They love to stand around and shoot the breeze, even when I'm not buying. Now is definitely the time to return the favor. Thanks for the reminder!

-scott c


Good post. KD, You've always been an advocate for the "fly people." And I think now more than ever we should support the local shop.


I can say I did my part....stopped into the local shop (about the last one standing in my patch) the other day between sales calls.....drank some coffee, shot the bull, and ended up with some tying material and two bottles of Frog's Fanny. I try to buy something everytime I stop in. Heck, sometimes I even buy something I actually need!

Support them folks, even if it costs a few extra bucks. You'll miss'em if/when they're gone.

Now that I've done my PSA, I do have a philosophical question; At what point in time does the little guy done good become the big, evil guy. I try to support local shops, be it fly or hardware or booze, but I always think of Cabela's. Two brothers who started selling flies in the back of mags, flies tied at the kitchen table, to the behemoth they are today. Their roots are small, they just grew. Are they the "Big Box Bad Guys" just because they were too successful? When did they turn to the dark side? $1,000,000 a year in sales? 10 million? I really am not looking to start an argument, but I've thought about this many times when I've been a part of "little guy vs. big guy" conversations. Just curious what the folks checking in here think.


I'll be the first to answer your question, Wags, because it's a very good one, and relevant to the topic at hand. I'm sure some will disagree with me (that's never been an issue before...)

I've always stood up for the mom and pop, but in the end, it comes down to those who walk the walk v. those who talk the talk. And in that light, I have absolutely no beef with Cabela's. An American success story... done more to promote the outdoors than all the Wal-Marts and K-Marts put together. Big box, yes, but the smart fly shop can survive and thrive in the shadow of Cabela's...


the opened a cabela's a few miles south of austin a couple of years ago. i don't have a problem with it, i go in there sometimes...mainly to pick up some things when i got into ultra-light spin fishing a few years ago. i do have to say that they don't have anyone there that knows squat about fly fishing, but they carry a bunch of stuff. and i rather shop at Academy (local outdoor store), it's much more in tune with our local waters. i always laugh at cabela's bargain basement room, it's chock full of ridiculous stuff like neoprene bootfoot waders, etc, that don't sell. i imagine they ship that stuff in from other places too.

the market for a mom and pop shop sort of disappeared when the fly shop i worked at for 9 years went out of business. the slack is being picked up by another shop in austin, but it's located so far west that it's inconvenient for a lot of people. the success of a small shop needs to be rooted in travel and local fisheries in order to support a returning client base, especially if it's not a destination.

anyway, cabela's is like wal-mart in a way, you can get just about anything there. although i will have to say that the conventional tackle fishermen that work there really know their stuff and are generally pretty helpful. and it's always fun to check out the huge fish tanks they have (trout in the middle of the store) and warmwater fish in the big glass tanks, it's quite fascinating.

i generally like to support small shops, but there comes a point where convenience rules. cabela's for us is well located, and they always have stuff in stock. unfortunately that's the problem with small shops, turns in inventory, keeping the cash flow to restock...plus cabela's has some cool stuff, like bulk packages of owner tarpon hooks and big bulk spools of fluorocarbon and mono (for tying your own leaders) that a lot of shops don't carry.

they do cater a bit more to the hick crowd, i could deal without some of the inbred bubbas checking out the guns, and there's a bit too much camo for my taste, but oh, well, i'm in texas....


Deet, I think you hit it on the head. Grow as big as you can, but don't lose your soul. I think that is what happened to Wal-Mart. Old Sam wouldn't recognize the company anymore. Does anyone remember the Made in the USA slogan Wal-Mart used to have? My Dad calls it China-Mart now. Customer service for the less than quality garbage they pettle is completely gone as well. And, they are the almost diabolical to their suppliers.

Cabela's has grown exponentially, but they do seem to still have their roots intact. I think the fact that they know what they are and do not apolgize for it is what I like. People come to our store to get lots of things, but mostly they are out to catch or kill something, and that is fine by us. Sure, they have a some of the problems of "BIG" but overall I have always had good experiences. The folks they put at the end of their phones are PHENOMINAL, especially in this day and age. I wish they pushed more on domestically made products, but honestly, those are probably pretty hard to find.

This was not supposed to be a commercial. In the end, like Kirk says, "If you walk the walk like you talk the talk, then you are okay, no matter how big." However, I agree with the original sentiment, if you can get it within reason from the local fly shop, by all means do it. A $10 - $20 dollar sale for them is helpful, the same for a big box is dollar dust.


i think it's fundamentally next-to-impossible for something to get big and retain it's soul. for a place to get big, it needs to implement certain structures to the business in order for it to grow, which in the end detract from the overall experience because something needs to be cut out in order for that efficiency to take place.

this is almost always the case in everything from music, movies to restaurants, etc...

i mean, imagine your favorite interior mexican restaurant. there's probably only 1 or 2 of them. now imagine taco bell. or better yet, just imagine a big box fly shop where the employees (shop pro's) get paid high wages, the shop charges the same retail prices as everyone else...and that shop employee spends 30 minutes talking to you, giving you tips and advice, everytime you come in...all the while other customers aren't being ignored because they are heavily staffed with others just like him.

i just think it's an impossible business model to have it both ways. something's got to give. the only way i see it is if they jack up the retail prices of everything, but then they lose their competitive edge. the average fly fisher entering the sport can barely afford the $250 rod/reel combo, much less a $700 sage rod, so i'm not sure where the price increases (or shop profits) are going to come from that will support this business model.


Hey Joey, we have a new fly shop in Round Rock. Small, but doing well. Living Waters Fly Fishing. Drop by sometime. Owner Chris Johnson is a great guy.

On the subject of commercials, how about this one?


labrat, wow, really? what lines do you carry? i worked at the austin angler for 9 years. i'm wondering chris and i know each other? i'm in argentina most of the year, but will try and drop by when i'm there next, which won't be til next july probably. thanks for the heads-up!

Evan V

This reminds me of a dumb Giant grocery store commercial I saw on tv.
"Tired of your neighbor's leaves blowing into your lawn? Relax, with a box of oreo cookies, 2 for 4$."


Joey, email Chris for more info,
[email protected]

Chad Miller

Thanks for the post here. I have no problem with Cabela's, we all have that opportunity to build a business in what ever manner we want. If the market decides it is me that wins great. If the market decides someone else wins fine I will go do something else, not the end of the world.

By the way Deeter I got to take a picture of a Snowman on Bourbon Street on Thursday. Of course we didn't get to fish because of high wind and some parts of N.O. got 5 inches of snow. It was just flat out bizarre. Or course you can imagine what the snowman looked like, use your imagination. The fish still ate really well the next day with water temps in the 40,s!!!

By the way someone down here tells me that you have got to have something on Sarah because he says she is way to classy for you. Oh yea Romano he also said you pretty much out kicked your coverage dude. You over achieved in the wife department he says. He was wondering what to good lookin' woman saw in you two. Now I am just a messenger and am doing what I am told. By the way he said he would allow you down in January, but I would clear that with the Captain.

Kirk Deeter

Tell the Captain I agree on the wife issue... And I'd like to visit, but I'm still busy trying to calm down the elk he scared up in the mountains.

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