Admittedly this is a bit of an insider piece but even if you don’t make your living in the fly fishing industry I think you’ll find it interesting and it actually does affect you as an angler.
The International Fly Tackle Dealers Show (July 10-12 in Las Vegas) is the biggest event on the fly fishing industry calendar. It’s when manufacturers from around the world come together to show off their products for the coming year to fly shop owners, buyers, sales reps, guides and anyone else in the business who’s interested. It’s when a lot of shops place their preseason orders and manufacturers get a handle on how much product to produce. It’s also the time when a lot of beer vanishes and steam gets blown off and old friends see each other once a year.
It’s exciting, fun and a business opportunity that should not be missed. However, in recent years there has been a good bit of grousing and infighting about the logistics of the show and attendance has suffered. While AFFTA (American Fly Fishing Trade Assoc.), the body that runs the show, has struggled with dates and venues in an effort to keep IFTD relevant for all concerned many shop owners and some manufacturers have felt better served by making connections on their own rather than attend the show.
I’m not going to waste time rehashing the arguments on both sides. Almost everybody knows what they are and that there is no solution that will please all parties. The points I would like to make are these:
Attending the show in spite of its flaws is good for your business whatever your role may be.
Boycotting the show is bad for the industry at large.
Why should you go?
Here are a few reasons.
The fly fishing business is a who-you-know business. It’s a small community and it’s built on personal relationships. There is absolutely no replacement for face time. For example, if I want to write about a new fly line, I pick up the phone and call the man who designed it. We catch up, I get detailed information for my readers and maybe we make a plan to go fishing. There’s a lot more going on there than on a chart. My review of the line is better so I get more traffic and more ad sales. It’s that simple. I have heard people complain that IFTD is just a big party. If you’re thinking that, you’ve missed the point and you need to learn to be a more effective networker. Maybe the best testament I can give to the power of networking is this. If you are reading my blog, you are likely aware of the placement of my photography throughout the industry in advertising and editorial, online and in print, on packaging and trade show booths. The only thing I have ever done to promote my fly fishing photography is attend IFTD.
If you run a fly shop your ability to sell product depends on your knowledge of that product and your ability to give your customers pertinent and accurate information. At IFTD virtually every gear designer on the planet is in one room, ready to answer your questions candidly. Or would you rather get your information from a sales rep or product catalogue? If that kind of access isn’t enough, AFFTA has arranged numerous seminars aimed at helping you improve your business and ability to sell.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a quote from Andy KurKulis @ Chicago Fly Fishing.
“The seminars have materially improved almost every part of our business, and should absolutely be experienced”
It’s true that if you, the fly shop owner, decide not to attend IFTD the big manufacturers will come to you. The Simms bus will come to your parking lot and the rep will show you all the new product for next year. (I’m not slamming Simms or their bus, it’s a great program.) So, what have you missed? The innovators. The new and fresh designers on the cutting edge. The small businesses that operate here in the U.S. The Howler Brothers and Kast and Smithfly and Cheeky and Veedavoo and a bunch of other great products that no one would know about without IFTD. So stay home and wait for the bus and see what happens. Sooner or later fly shops will be just like Wal-Mart, manned by idiots and full of the same Chinese crap.
This is an exciting year to go to IFTD. We will be sharing the hall, for the first time, with ICAST (the conventional gear show). That means that you can check out all of the fly fishing gear on the IFTD side then stroll across the isle to the Shimano booth at no extra charge. Two kick ass shows for the cost of one. That’s hard to beat. Exhibitor booth sales are up to three times what they were last year, promising lots more to see and lots more folks to meet.
Those of us who make our livings in the fly fishing business are truly fortunate. There isn’t a one of us who wants to give that up. The IFTD show is the pumping heart of our industry and there has never been a more important time to support it. Let’s put the argument aside and all come together in Las Vegas to get some business done.Gink & Gasoline www.ginkandgasoline.com email@example.com Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter!