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Trey9123
03-30-2008, 22:21
I am going through a very sad time right now. I have two loves, Scuba and Fishing. I have been very lucky, In my home town have have had both a very nice scuba shop and a very nice Fly fishing shop. At both of these places the people are knowledgeable, friendly, and both are just fun places to go and hang out and share knowledge and have fun. Sadly, I walked into the fly fishing shop two days ago, and Chuck the owner, with tears in his eyes told me that after 17 years they are going out of business. He told me that sales have been dropping as more and more people buy gear from the internet or Walmart, and they just cant make it anymore. And when he told me I felt sick to my stomach. It is so sad because it is the death of knowledge, the old guys in there had been there and done that and were more than willing to share. I can always find a better deal from some on-line dealer out of his garage who has no bills to pay or giant conglomerates who can cut their margins paper thin. But this was a place to go and learn, to have questions answered, and to become part of a community. My home town will definitely be a worse place without Foothills Fly in it. Now I can definitely see the same thing happening to my local Scuba Store which I also love and it makes me sick. I have been as guilty as anyone else, I got to my store, decide what I want, and find it for 2/3 the price on the internet and order it. And now I feel sick that I have been doing that. Is the atmosphere, knowledge, and sense of community not worth that extra third? Would you really not want to live in a world where the only way to buy scuba gear is to sign online? I just wanted to know what everyone thinks about this. I'm still trying to decide myself. Please help me with this moral dilemma.
Sincerely,
Trey

aggie99
03-30-2008, 23:01
I haven't shopped at Wal-mart in probably 3 years. I just disagree with everything they stand for. Sad part is form what I have heard of Sam Walton he would never had stood for the tactics Wal-mart uses to drive prices down. It is sad when these smaller shops go out.

I guess I am lucky that I get the best of both worlds with ST, I can go and hang there for an hour and chat, get assistance with my gear and walk out with a great deal.

obrules15
03-31-2008, 07:10
It helps that ST used to be my LDS, since I moved away from Dallas I have had 3 other different LDS's. None treated me as well as ST, even online, none were as helpful or knew as much. None put up with my incessant questions as well. The least of what I like about ST is the prices it really is everything else. But what I do, since my nearest LDS's are at least an hour away is every time I am near I go and buy odd's and ends. I can't in good conscience get all my gear there but I do the best to support them in the way that I feel is appropriate.

DarinMartell
03-31-2008, 07:36
I can see why your are sad, you where / are lucky. If my local LDS where as friendly and engaging as yours have been then they might earn my loyalty and I would be willing to pay more. However they are not, in fact I have had much more help and communication with Joe and Larry then I have had with the shop 3 miles down the road. I have been in many times, rented gear, filled tanks, and bought misc items from them, however I have never been engaged in conversation beyond the purchase / rental.

Also, where does our resonsibility end, 30% more, 50% more, 75% more? The internet is not new and internet sales has been the growing trend for some time. The fact that most local shops have not embraced internet sales and have suffered for it is not our fault. Both of my LDS's have websites, neither sell on-line. In fact one has a "online store" that has been "coming soon" for over a year. This is just not good business, an online store does not have to be an expensive thing to create in the really simple formats. These stores are having trouble because they are not doing the volume of an online store, it is not so much about a brick and mortor store vs. some guys garage. Look at ST, they are brick and mortor, in fact they have gone a step bigger in capitol investment then most LDS's and have their own pool. Their sucsess is their customer service added to embracing tech to increase volume. Did you read the WJ writeup about ST that Larry shared with us. The software to create this forum cost $200 and a-lot of his time. I bet saying it has paid for itself many, many times over is the understatement of the year!

If the owner of these businesses are not tech savy maybe they should be looking for partners (maybe you?) with the skill set to combine the tech work with the great customer service that they offer already. So yes I would be willing to pay more for loyalty, in fact I have paid 10% more for a pony from ST then from a local guy due to shipping costs and didn't bat an eye. But it is not my responsibity to be a crutch for their lack of business skills if they are ready to shut down instead of evolve.

NoTime58
03-31-2008, 08:34
It's a sad fact that the small one owner, (or Mom & Pop) shops of all kinds are falling to the "bigger price cutting" chain stores. It's been happening for a long time and it'll continue to happen when people are constantly looking for a "better or cheaper" deal.

Beaucoupfishies
03-31-2008, 09:21
It is sad that they end up closing down, but you do have to be able to adapt to stay in business. Even a small web presence can help you out immensely. If our LDS wouldn't have had a web site, we wouldn't have scheduled our OW course through them and subsequently purchased some of our gear with them.

Unfortunately, they also choose to only sell Aqualung and therefore they are "set in their pricing", so we bought all the high ticket items through ST.

fireflock
03-31-2008, 09:58
It's always sad to see a valued local store close.

At the same time, retail is a tough business, and it's always changing. Stores HAVE TO change with the times, or their competitors will win. I am always sad when a local store that I enjoy closes, but I'm not convinced that me buying everything I possibly can there would do anything to change their fate.

Knowledge used to be valuable, and a good retailer could build a business providing that knowledge. Now, knowledge is easier to come by so that retailer looses an advantage. Think about how many places you can go now to get information about fly fishing, or scuba diving, or whatever hobby you enjoy. In a lot of cases, there are groups of regular avid fisherman or divers or bikers or whatever who are more than willing to share what they know.

Retailers have more and more ways to reach customers. Some time ago, everything I know about outdoor gear came from browsing at a local shop. Now I get catalogs, emails, fliers, magazines, etc... all from different retailers who want my business. The local shop still wants me to drive across town and visit them in order to show me what they have for sale. Sometimes they loose a sale just because I don't know which products they carry.

Most people I see in my age group (30's) don't even walk into a store for a major purchase until they know exactly what they are going to buy. First, we turn to professional reviews, user feedback, friends and acquaintances, internet forums, etc.... to learn what's on the market. We look at a much wider range of brands than what you can find in one specialty store. A store that bases their business of providing knowledge doesn't do a lot for a customer like that.

My personal philosophy is to always consider the brands carried by local stores that I like. If they carry the product I decide to buy, I give them a shot at the business. I'm not likely to buy something that was my second choice, or that I didn't really want, just to support them.

I want all of the smaller stores I visit to do well. If they do go under, I think it's because they didn't keep up with the changing landscape in their business. If they won't change, they will probably fail regardless of what I do.

What's the old saying? Trying to compete in today's world with yesterday's strategy means you won't be around tomorrow....

Rich

yankeefan21
03-31-2008, 13:04
Most people I see in my age group (30's) don't even walk into a store for a major purchase until they know exactly what they are going to buy. First, we turn to professional reviews, user feedback, friends and acquaintances, internet forums, etc.... to learn what's on the market.
:smiley32: My sentiments EXACTLY.

You know why I buy from ST? Their prices are competitive, their shipping is fast, everyone I speak with is friendly and knowledgeable, AND they have this forum to foster a diving community. I wish my LDS was as responsive and informative and competitive, but they're not. Will I be sad if they go under? Sure. Really, though, the one and only thing they offer is an easy way for me to find my next scuba class.

frogman159
03-31-2008, 13:25
Stores HAVE TO change with the times, or their competitors will win, but I'm not convinced that me buying everything I possibly can there would do anything to change their fate.

Most people I see in my age group (30's) don't even walk into a store for a major purchase until they know exactly what they are going to buy.

If they do go under, I think it's because they didn't keep up with the changing landscape in their business. If they won't change, they will probably fail regardless of what I do.
Rich

Very well stated Rich. Our generation becomes virtual experts on just about every product we purchase, frequently I've gone into stores and have known more than the salesperson, and I certainly know the average retail price of the item I'm about to buy.

So when I walk into a local shop, and instantly spot a 50% markup, the only question is: do I want to play negotiation charade to get a reasonable price, or am I simply going to go home and click a button and save some face....9 times out of 10, I'll opt to simply click the button

Its crucial for any business to re-invent itself to offer something new, this even goes for the small guys. And ignoring/playing dumb to the internet is a fatal mistake.

awap
03-31-2008, 14:28
Looks like you will have to develop other sources of expert information. Here's a start: fly fishing technique - Google Search (http://www.google.com/search?q=fly+fishing+technique&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=com.google.gzfb:en-US:official&client=firefox-a)

Valuable information often costs $$. Free information often is just not very valuable. I take advantages of good deals when I can find them and price is a big part of a good deal.

Black-Gorrilla
03-31-2008, 17:42
sucks about the fly shop.
i split my purchases between 3 dive shops, as well as ST for online stuff.
I just picked up 2 tanks from 1 shop, and have 1 tank for hydro and tumbling at another, and will be picking up 2 apeks DS4's from the 3rd. turns out im gonna buy my computer from ST (price wins here) but the other shops do well.
i often buy from shop 1 for how close they are, but the things that they dont offer and i need, i have to go else were for. lucky for me i can buy most things between the 3 shops, and they all have good traffic going trough.

terrillja
03-31-2008, 23:33
I haven't shopped at Wal-mart in probably 3 years. I just disagree with everything they stand for. Sad part is form what I have heard of Sam Walton he would never had stood for the tactics Wal-mart uses to drive prices down. It is sad when these smaller shops go out.

I guess I am lucky that I get the best of both worlds with ST, I can go and hang there for an hour and chat, get assistance with my gear and walk out with a great deal.
Well if you disagree with everything they stand for, you might be surprised to read this:

In Wal-Mart We Trust (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=405747)

Granted comparing wal mart to fema is kind of easy, ANYTHING is better than FEMA it seems.

To the OP, I agree, but retail is changing. My local fly shop is operated out of a guy's basement. He has better prices than cabellas, and I can look everything over. He also offers rod-building supplies, which are hard to procure elsewhere. My LDS operates out of an addition on a house, on his property. The company I buy all my ski tuning gear from operates out of an addition to a house in the middle of nowhere in NH. He runs an online storefront, but you can come to his place and he will take the time to help you find exactly what you want.

Retail is changing, if shops cant evolve, as all industries must do, they will die. It's sad, but it's business. Superior CS will make up for a hugher price, but if the CS is poor, why would I pay more and not get treated well?

Trey9123
04-01-2008, 20:42
It just seems that their are certain things that no amount of digital communication can ever teach you. Some activities are just art forms that need to been seen to be learned. I certainly would not want to take an on-line scuba certification class and then go diving.

Trey9123
04-01-2008, 20:52
Well if you disagree with everything they stand for, you might be surprised to read this:

In Wal-Mart We Trust (http://www.nationalpost.com/news/world/story.html?id=405747)

Granted comparing wal mart to fema is kind of easy, ANYTHING is better than FEMA it seems.



I'm not saying that these big companies don't contribute to the community, I'm just trying to say that finding an employee at who know's anything about anything is almost impossible. Let alone someone who is an expert on anything that they sell.

frogman159
04-01-2008, 21:17
I certainly would not want to take an on-line scuba certification class and then go diving.


Unfortunatly, I've heard of places offering online class work then you do your checkouts and that's it.

cummings66
04-01-2008, 21:29
It's not a big deal to take some scuba courses online, but as long as the instructor who checks you out knows the deal it can work out. I doubt anybody teaches OW online and just has you show up for the dives, but I could see that someday as a potential. Do the knowledge reveiws online and the pool work, then on to the dives. You'd cut out a lot of boring lectures. Of course you might miss out on some good twists and turns that I think make for good lessons as well.

frogman159
04-01-2008, 21:47
Yeah, things just seem to be getting more and more watered down. Several folks in my OW class misssed 2 of 6 classes, couldn't do the 50ft breathhold swim, and only swam 150 of the 225 yards and they were told by the instructor not to worry about it.

fireflock
04-01-2008, 22:00
Your choices are not limited to local stores and online. More often than not, local forums meet in person on a regular basis to fish/dive/whatever. People are still interested in the activities, even after the local store is gone, and groups pop up to provide the same kind of community that used to be centered at the shop.

cummings66
04-02-2008, 07:09
they were told by the instructor not to worry about it.

That's not watered down, that's a violation of standards. Call the shop and let them know, and if that doesn't fix it call the main office for whatever agency it was and let them know. I'm making the assumption it's Naui based on your cert, if that's the case the instructor violating standards won't be tolerated very well. It's your responsibility to report him, he's endangering students. If he's allowing them to do this what else is he not teaching? You can't know because you're not an instructor, but I can tell you this, where there's smoke there's fire. This guy needs to be reported.

mitsuguy
04-02-2008, 07:32
I haven't shopped at Wal-mart in probably 3 years. I just disagree with everything they stand for. Sad part is form what I have heard of Sam Walton he would never had stood for the tactics Wal-mart uses to drive prices down. It is sad when these smaller shops go out.

I guess I am lucky that I get the best of both worlds with ST, I can go and hang there for an hour and chat, get assistance with my gear and walk out with a great deal.

I feel the exact same way about Wal-Mart and will only go there if its the last place in town to find what I need...

obrules15
04-02-2008, 08:00
Yeah, things just seem to be getting more and more watered down. Several folks in my OW class misssed 2 of 6 classes, couldn't do the 50ft breathhold swim, and only swam 150 of the 225 yards and they were told by the instructor not to worry about it.


That's dangerous, there are the guys that show up on boats and become our insta-buddies and we wonder how on earth they got certified.

Beaucoupfishies
04-02-2008, 10:08
It's not a big deal to take some scuba courses online, but as long as the instructor who checks you out knows the deal it can work out. I doubt anybody teaches OW online and just has you show up for the dives, but I could see that someday as a potential. Do the knowledge reveiws online and the pool work, then on to the dives. You'd cut out a lot of boring lectures. Of course you might miss out on some good twists and turns that I think make for good lessons as well.

The lectures were only mildly boring to me, but that's because I read all the bookwork well before we went into the class. I still wouldn't pass up being in a real class as opposed to online.

In the class you can be totally sure you and your fellow trainees understand everything before you get into the water. It also gives you a chance to get to know your classmates and possible dive buddies a bit before you doing your dives.

We also had a 2 hour drive to get to our dive location so that's when we really got to find out how crazy everyone was. :smiley36:

wolfen42
04-02-2008, 12:30
That's not watered down, that's a violation of standards. Call the shop and let them know, and if that doesn't fix it call the main office for whatever agency it was and let them know. I'm making the assumption it's Naui based on your cert, if that's the case the instructor violating standards won't be tolerated very well. It's your responsibility to report him, he's endangering students. If he's allowing them to do this what else is he not teaching? You can't know because you're not an instructor, but I can tell you this, where there's smoke there's fire. This guy needs to be reported.

Yeah, from my discussions with my OW and AOW instructor PADI will pull certifications on instructors who are doing crap like that pretty d*** fast.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to take our OW and AOW dives with a PADI course director and it was very interesting to discuss with him how PADI handles standards violations.

Report that instructor before he/she certifies any other life threatening "divers".