Sad post re Kaufmann Streamborn

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Don Barton, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. help the victims

    I have to disagree. Internet commerce is competing with mom-and-pop commerce, but isn't dooming it. Half of all fly shops I've been in had an attitude problem with their employees, and Kaufman's was one of them. A recession hits and the average joe that hasn't gotten a raise in 3 years isn't going to go out of his way to support a mom and pop that either ignores him or tries to up sell him whenever he walks in the door. He's going to get a deal online or call an out of the way store that will give him customer service. I see shops that have been around for 30 years still going strong while others are going under, there's a reason customers are supporting one but not the other.
  2. In this 'local-fly-shops' vs. 'the interwebs', good-guys vs. bad guys discussion, it's important to consider that just because someone has a web site that sells flyfishing gear online, that doesn't make them a huge, big-box operation like Cabelas or Bass Pro Shops.

    I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the vast majority of online flyfishing retailers are no more than other mom-and-pop shops who have simply figured out how to use the web to their advantage to expand their potential market. Instead of wringing their hands how people aren't walking through their front door like they used to and crying about how they've been victimized, they've used the web to eliminate the limitations of space and time and now sell to far more people than a brick and mortar store can ever do.

    I predict that in another 10 years, local fly shops will be both rare and quaint reminders of bygone days - sorta like horse-drawn buggies and pocket watches.

  3. I wish I could say I was surprised. Not about the closing, that was a long time coming. About the owner(s).

    I worked at K-mann's back in the day. I tied flies by the thousands for Randall during high school and college and even through much of grad school. I worshiped Randall. I wanted to be like Randall. Until I worked the shop in the summers and at x-mas for a couple of seasons. If you ever worked "the basement" you know an entirely different side of Kaufmann's.

    Randall was just a face. Lance ran that business. Lance and Randy Stetzer. Randall undoubtedly worked his rear off to get it to where it was, but by the time I was in the mix Lance was the person running the show and Randall would stroll in to sign a few books and criticize everyone working in the basement for breathing the wrong way. He and his mother Odie were the two most condescending humans I've ever known. Lance was up there, but not like those two.

    At the time, I actually think Lance was the only reason the business was around. Lance didn't want Randall in the store; he didn't like Randall any more than the rest of us. Randall was a first-class pompous ass who was nice when customers were looking and was horrible to people behind the scenes any time he felt like it, too. Some of the finest people I knew back then worked for Randall and cringed when he entered the room. I hated Randall for the way he talked to some of those folks. It was hard for me to see someone whose written a better book than anything Randall had written verbally flogged for not getting 100% markup on a product even though it was a local product and it cost less than $10...but I digress.

    Lance, on the other hand, tolerated Randall because he'd write books and bring people in the store, that's about it. But Lance did the dirty work and was the real brains behind the business. I'm not even sure Lance really liked fishing all that much. What I do know is that he did treat his upper-level people pretty well despite his surly brother. Randy, Jerry, Kevin, Rod, and Gordon seemed to appreciate Lance, and all of them seemed to enjoy life more when Randall was at home "writing".

    With this said, Lance was pretty tough to be around. He wasn't a jerk to me like Randall was, but he loved to make light of customers who blew a bunch of cash or brag about how much money he spent on a bottle of wine the night before. He wasn't a humble man, nor someone I ever aspired to be like. My time at Kaufmann's was a blessing because I saw the seamy underbelly of an industry that is unraveling for its lack of foresight. I learned quickly that there was no future in retail, and if there was, I didn't want to be like either of the Kaufmann brothers.

    Blessings to Randy Stetzer, wherever you may be. You are one of the good guys.
  4. Fly shops turned into Fly Fishing Clubs that hang out in crazy high priced retail real estate years ago. I'd share some personal stories, but you've all seen it yourselvs. There is still hope for the brick and mortar shops in the future, so long as they pull their heads out of their arses and run them like a real pro-shop.
  5. Wow! Thanks for taking time to write your recollection and for sharing it with us.

    I'm sure a lot of us have similar experiences working in retail. I sure do - just not in the flyfishing business. Guess it just goes to show that once money is involved, people will do a lot of strange things.

  6. Oh sooo true Mr. K, oh so true. If you're not on the Internet, with a recognizable presence be that as simple as posting to web boards you're committing suicide. I don't care how/where your 'sticks and bricks' are located you can have 'face time' with present/potential customers ... IF you want to take the time and make the effort. The face may be as simple as regularly contributing to a Board that's attended by folks who buy your type of product or as involved as flyfishusa's weekly news letter.

    The later is always a good read (Mark's an accomplished writer) but it always ends up 'advertising' the product(s) appropriate to the text. His shop is located in Welches, Oregon .... a long way east of Portland. But the mail/UPS/FedEx works from any where, and he ships world-wide. (Here's his latest news letter: ). Another operation that comes to mind is located in Peck, Idaho .... and that town is little more than a cross-roads in the middle of nowhere on the Clearwater. Mike gets face time with clients by following/posting to a few major web boards ... and he also ships world wide.

    Their respective web sites? One is very ornate to put it mildly, one is pretty crude by comparison. But they both work for that core group of people they want to attract.

  7. A major advantage of online retailing is that a web site is selling product and promoting your brand 24/7 without the employee and facility expenses associated with a brick and mortar store. Plus, you don't have to put up with the "support-your-local-fly-shop" brownshirts who come in to your store expecting you to stop what you're doing to bullshit with them but who don't end up buying anything.

  8. Actually Kent, both stores I was talking about do have a 'sticks and bricks.' But what they also have is world wide attention via the Net and that's where they make the majority of their money. Want to talk to a real person? No problem, "800 numbers" are cheap as chips. Want to talk to a real live person? Dial the number and ask your question(s). Bye the bye, if you do, you'll end up spending far more money than you intended. :>(

    Using myself as a good example of a bad example, I've actually been in the ffusa store twice at the most and have spent hundreds of dollars there.
  9. Brendan,
    that shop at Sun Valley (was) Bill Masons Outfitters..... kinda funny if you think about it, you're probably related with the same last name ......... That guy was the same way to me and a few others I know. It was an Orvis *affiliate* shop that has closed+sold and now been re-invented as Ketchum On The Fly located across the street from Tullys on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum

    Silver Creek is on the main street a block north of the Pioneer Bar and Saloon

    on another note, I just found out that one of my friend's wife bought him a trip to Christmas Island (plus another friend going too), so they were out major cash for 2 full trips. very sad. fortunately, they paid with a credit card but that was after several attempts by Kman's to get them to pay by check. good thing they used common sense.

    the other victim would obviously be the actual guide and outfitter on Christmas Island. They could potentially go out of business and lose an entire season of work due to cancelations and non-payment.
  10. ". . . Orvis based shop that has closed+sold and now been re-invented as Ketchum On The Fly located across the street from Tullys on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum. . ."

    Let's understand that there are stores that purchase Orvis tackle wholesale and sell it - they are independent dealers. And there are stores like mine that are company owned stores.

  11. sure leland, they don't sell anything but orvis, which is why i said that. note, i did not call the shop orvis but by their correct names.
  12. Lance and Randall will literally never be able to do business in flyfishing, socialize in flyfishing circles, or even wet a line anywhere in the Western US ever again in their lives. I wonder if they considered that before embarking upon this seemingly shady endgame.
  13. human nature being what it is, some folks get to a place in life where they believe they can do anything they please, they are somehow entitled. the latest political headlines underscore just how blind some folks can be to the reality we all have to deal with. i would place Lance and his business in that same category, entitled. as with most folks who go down this path, it didn't work out so great for Lance and the business.
  14. Makes you appreciate Swedes "fast surprise" a bit when they closed.
    I don't recall any complaints other than a few customers missing the shop and sadness for employees out of work.
  15. Nope... Silver Creek has two locations. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you'll see them both listed -

    I was referring to this one:
    SUN VALLEY ID 83353
    (208) 622-5282
  16. good to know Brendan, i guess they must have opened that up once bill mason shut down. it's been awhile since i've gone on the SV property, but i have been to the ketchum shops. bummer on your experience. guess your greenbacks aren't bling enough, as they prefer guys with black plastic there!

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