By Kirk Deeter
I spent the past few weeks on vacation in Italy, where I noticed that the best butcher shops in Tuscany proudly hang the hammy hindquarters of pigs in their windows. But the really good butcher shops make sure that the long tail is still attached to the pig’s posterior.
What this detail tells the shopper, I learned, is that those were “free range,” acorn eating, and presumably much happier hogs. That’s important, because any good Tuscan butcher will tell you that happy, free-roaming hogs make better tasting prosciutto.
On the other hand, pigs raised in overcrowded commercial production pens are apparently disposed to chewing off each others’ tails. No tail on the ham indicates a pressured, pissed-off pig, whose destiny is to become nothing greater than processed lunchmeat.
All of this, naturally, got me thinking about the fly-fishing industry.
No, I’m not going to call anyone a pig, but we do seem to be chewing off each others’ tails. A couple months ago, as the issue of Far Bank selling direct came to the fore, the number one type of feedback I got from dealers was that they didn’t like it, but over distribution among retailers—too many shops, to close, to each other carrying the same lines—is a far greater concern.
Of course, I asked manufacturers about this, and plenty of them had examples where X shop tells a customer they carry Y product… customer drives 30 miles to X shop to buy Y product… Y product is not there because X shop didn’t really carry it. Regardless of who is at fault, the customer is angry.
You can definitely take exclusivity to the extreme. The other day, a magazine editor colleague literally said he would cover a nonprofit event designed to promote the sport of fly fishing among college students, but only if he had an “exclusive,” meaning other magazines couldn’t promote it or write about it. I couldn’t make something that bizarre or inappropriate up if I tried.
Sure, we all feel like someone is chewing on our tails now and then, but help us understand just how big a factor you think over-distribution of fly product is, by answering this month’s survey.