11-20-2021 North Country Angling-Fly-Fishing Suppliers

Fly-fishing suppliers have overcome supply chain issues. (STEVE ANGERS PHOTO)

Holiday time is always a challenging time for gift givers. There are the popular gift items for adults and children alike. The lines for Black Friday, and the ensuing riots, are the story of legend.

My first exposure to this phenomenon was back in the early 1980s. One holiday season, the Cabbage Patch Kids were all the rage. As a buyer for the chain store, Zayre, I got a behind-the-scenes view in how the supply chain can work.

Coleco Industries was the manufacturer of the Cabbage Patch dolls, and the demand outstripped the forecasted supply. Dolls with a suggested retail of $19.99 were selling for hundreds of dollars. It was insanity.

Zayre Stores was one of Coleco’s best customers and negotiated a plan to fly dolls in from Taiwan. This ensured Zayre Stores a supply of the dolls while the higher retail price paid for the cost of the air freight. The company sold every single doll that was delivered.

Holiday gift giving and supply chain has been an issue for a long time. Fast-forward to this holiday season.

One of the rules of owning a retail business is that you can’t sell from an empty cart. With the pandemic going into its second holiday season, it has been a balancing act in trying to match inventory to customer demand. Particularly in the fishing category. This category has seen increased demand since the “get outside” edict associated with the pandemic. Increased demand, coupled with short supply, has been a balancing act for retailers of outdoor equipment.

Fortunately, Orvis has been very good with supply. They made the choice to use air freight instead of ocean freight to keep goods flowing to their customers and their retail partners. This has allowed the North Country Angler to have good inventory and to navigate around product shortages.

On the flip side, Temple Fork Outfitters, a value-based equipment supplier, was never able to get caught up with supply once sales exceeded the forecasted demand. In this case, we had to find another value equipment supplier to take the place of Temple Fork Outfitters. Rajeff Sports, with their Echo line of fly rods and reels, filled that void.

The next decision is investing in inventory. The supply chain had gotten so good that retailers could stock a week’s worth of inventory and get a fresh shipment of merchandise each week. Turning inventory is key in retail. The supply chain allowed retailers to maximize turn on their inventory. No longer.

Remembering the 2020 holiday season, we have been building inventory at the shop since the spring. Our inventory turns are down but we have a full cart of products to meet demand of the most popular items. We have hundreds of fly rods, fly reels, fly lines in stock. We boosted inventory in waders and boots. Sling packs, fly vests and catch-and-release nets are in good supply. Hopefully, we won’t have a Cabbage Patch doll this year and leave gift givers wanting.

While the fly-fishing suppliers are in decent shape, the spin and ice fishing suppliers are lagging behind. Spin gear fill rates ran at 50 percent of what was ordered. Ice fishing gear fill rates are the same.

For the anglers on your gift list who enjoy those forms of fishing, buy early and buy often. The supply chain is severely lagging in those categories.

Perhaps this is the holiday to get the spin angler on your list to try fly fishing?

Tip of the Week

With the continuation of warmer fall weather, consider fishing one of the valley ponds or lakes that remain open to fishing all year. Go to wildlife.state.nh.us for the complete list.

Steve Angers, a native to the Conway area, is the author of the book “Fly Fishing New Hampshire’s Secret Waters” and operates the North Country Angler.

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