Salem Oregon’s Last Fly Fishing Store to Close

Creekside Flyfishing is the last fly fishing store in Salem, Oregon. It has announced it will close its doors on November 30th.

The reasons are the same as many other fly shops: the rise of internet sales and the crash of 2008. In this instance, the latter may have been a bigger factor as Salem is a company town and the company is government. Too much uncertainty in the austere years after the banisters melted the economy led to a tough business climate. I find it sad as they appear to be highly regarded people who cared deeply about the sport and their customers.

This is not the first fly shop I’ve seen or read about be driven under by a changing economy. Even Kauffman’s Streamborn, a northwest icon, filed for bankruptcy in 2011.

I’ve commented in a number of other posts about the economies of scale at work in the retail fly fishing world. The rise of internet sales combined with a tough economic situation means that a shakeout will occur. A number of shops run by inept or pompous owners will go away – unfortunately so may the terrific shops that provide a focal point to local fly fishing wherever they are located.

It’s safe to say that survival in the current economic climate requires fly shop owners to think more like business people and bring increased focus on marketing their shop and the sport of fly fishing. Waiting in the shop, hoping for someone to show up – those days are gone, at least in non-destination locations. Fly shops have to market themselves through seminars, an education program, trips (big and small), and online presence through blogs, tweets, and YouTube videos. And they need to bring in more younger people into the sport. Marketing to them is going to take some innovative pap

Cooperative demo days, as I discussed here, are also opportunities to promote the sport of flu fishing. There is increased competition for the scarce recreational dollars most people have. Promoting fly fishing and appreciation for the natural world will help everyone.

From the business side, it’s possible that the strategic acquisition model used by Grizzly Hackle Holdings may what saves some excellent shops (read here). But that won’t be a solution in all cases.

Living in a time of change is tough. Buy local whenever possible.

You can read more about Creekside here.

Author: TomR

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