From Behind The Counter
The start to a new year is always exciting. The anticipation after Christmas gives way to the lull before we all gather around to sing old-Lang-syne and make our New Years resolutions. A fresh start, a new look, pioneering ambitions, refeshed targets, the world is your oyster again, literally.

The same can be said for business, we have all had a rest and are game for the year ahead. Whether you had a successful year before or not, this year must be better, hadn’t it?

Historically we have been quiet in January, the laws of economics dictate that people must run out of money at some point. Many will argue that Christmas money gifts and vouchers will draw people into our fishing shop, but the data just doesn’t compute. Many people are still in holiday mode and the impact of starting back to work has exploded their minds. Pay day can be miles away and the wallet has shrunk like your bits do in a cold shower. The weather is shite, let’s be honest who is really excited to go and sit by their local sanctuary for hours on end, with frost hanging from their rod tips? Yes the solitude may be tempting, but freezing your knackers off isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Therefore if people are not going fishing, they are doing other things, why we have found is people are happy to talk about fishing!

This is the first January which we have been busier than the year before. Mother Nature has been kind to our lakes and rivers, so people can at least spend some time preying on their quarry. The fair-weather anglers have been into the shop to talk about their latest tactics, newfangled ideas and ambitions for the year ahead. On the back of these whims and fantasy they have parted with their hard-earned. The flow of cash is the blood of any business, small or large. With cash flow comes opportunities. Cash makes our job easier and allows us to work on our plans and developments.

We had a vision, I say “we” mainly Jamie and I, with sue my wife raining us back with iron-clad authority. We wanted to recreate the Alladin’s cave of yesteryear. Those that have been with us from the start will know what a haven Eagle Brown in Lymm was as a shop. No space, floor to ceiling boxes, bags and even rods of the ceilings! We had most things in stock though, and if we never we could get hold of it. People appreciated the hard work we put into that shop. How much effort it took to cram what we crammed into the basement unit. We wanted to replicate that, but move things forward about five years. With that came our first deliveries from Nash and Savage Gear. The whole back of the shop was a warehouse nightmare with boxes of cardboard littered on every available inch of wooden floor. If it could store a box, then it held a box. The back of shop was box central.

Boxes piled up high
A shop with our constraints will always need more storage space, that is a fact of life. Our solution was to put up some strategically fixed shelves. The beams of wood would take the strain from the boxes adorning the floor.
“We had a vision, I say “we” mainly Jamie and I, with sue my wife raining us back with iron-clad authority.”

It was about the same time a we were playing Tetris with our box situation that Jake Wildbore from Sticky Baits contacted us. Our relationship with Sticky Baits has always been a good one, in 2015 we had provided an outlet for them to sell bait direct at the Northern Show. We were in the cliche and they wanted to help in our new shop. They had been putting new racking into shops nationwide and had decided that given our history were worthy of investment. The racking was a fully illuminated unit which would house their product range going forward. We debated with Jake over the size of the racking, obviously him wanting more than we felt comfortable with, but we negotiated and settled on a two-meter stand.

Jake came down to personally install the rack with a colleague from manufacturing. The pair worked intensely on this new backbreaking installation. Both Jamie and I felt so guilty as they repeatedly brought parts and pieces in from their tardis like vehicle parked outside. Eventually the masterpiece was complete, and what a masterpiece it was.

Jake Wildbore

The underlit shelving against the black and pink metallic shines like gold in a gold pan. The contrast between black and pink is a masterstroke of architecture and I must doff my cap to their design team. What we needed to do now was fill it to capacity, so I have Jake the nod to make it creak under the weight of their wares. To be half-arsed about it wouldn’t have done all the hard work justice. We know when we have a winning combination, so prove us right and make it look the bollocks.

As with most things in life the Ying and yang effect must be felt. To negate the good work achieved by Sticky Baits was the Fox Footwear debacle. To give you some background around October time we had been given the heads up by Fox that their new footwear range was due for release just in time for Christmas. Perhaps even a massive Christmas sensation.

We took orders for the mid boots, camo trainers, shoes and high boots, giving people an expected date of beginning of December as per the infor from Fox. This date I understand was just an estimatation, but with plenty of time to go before the magic date Christmas deliveries were no bother.

As the weeks passed by, we steadily and convidently took the orders from the fans of the brand. Not only for the new footwear but other products in their range, such as the Easy Camo Shelter, Shepa-Tec jacket and Aquos suits. The date initially given out was 6th December, so we blissfully told the customers that a Christmas delivery was no problem. How could we be so wrong!

The illusive Fox Footwear

The original date came and went, we were advised by Fox that they were due anytime. We were receiving call after call from panicking mothers, girlfriends and wives anxious over the impending delivery date. As far as Fox were telling us we were due the products anytime soon. The week before Christmas and the calls intensified to an unbelievable level, people were getting more and more angry at the situation.

Our hands were tied and we were hopeful of a deliver even though we were now into 20th December. We soon realised something was wrong when customers told us that they had contacted Fox direct and had been told items were going to be a January release. Soon after we were advised by the rep that the footwear had slipped and was now due on early January. The fact that we had let so many customers down seemed to go over their heads. Fans of the products were being pursuaded to look elsewhere for similar items.

I mentioned this because this event alone ruined my Christmas. The fact that I had spoilt this festive time of year for some many, was upsetting. We received most of the footwear around 13 January in some cases over 3 months after they had ordered it, over a month after they were promised it. We are still waiting on some of the trainers. To rub salt into the wounds the social media was abound with images of favoured shops receiving deliveries from artic lorry loads of unsold shoes and boots. *Sigh*

This month we felt the full power of social media. A customer had put a deposit down on a new bivvy, we of course sorted him a great price. The deals which we can do in store are excellent and we make no excuses that we look after our loyal customers. Unfortunately this customer wasn’t a regular and as it turns out only interested in how much discount he could save. Posting the receipt on Facebook of a large North-Eastern tackle shop to show the discount wasn’t a smart move. This was quickly hijacked and copied by one of their followers and now a Warrington Angling Centre receipt was being used a weapon to price match at another shop in the Midlands. The shop couldn’t compete with the price and quickly escalated into flagging this with the manufacturer of the bivvy, not a nice experience. It just shows though that something we do locally can have an impact somewhere else in the country.
X-Store Concept

Talking of taking of a National interest, the New Shimano X-Store concept has been unveiled to the public. If you are not familar specially invited stores commit to Shimano by purchasing all of the product range and display it instore. The Shimano designers go into the shop and make it all shiney and silver with blue shimano colouring looking all amazing. Shimano say “The focus is on benefits and the story of the products instead of price. With videos and information banners the features of the products are explained and the assortment is built in a clear way. This makes it much easier to compare products. Also products are not behind glass but the consumers can touch and feel them.” Great I here you ask.

This new concept gives the new X-Store advantage of pre-delivery of the new products, with new reels and rods being released weeks ahead of non-X-Stores, such as us. Shimano would argue that these shops have supported the brand and therefore should be rewarded with the latest products. Our stance is that us as a small shop can no longer compete with these stores. The Shimano fan wants the latest reel and from now can only get hold of it from their nearest X-Store. Pre-orders and advance deals on Shimano have been taken away from our business. We physically cannot install the X-Store concept, it would take up most of our shop taking away from the other brands.

I personally think that this is such a blinkered approach from Shimano in effect introducing two-tiers of shops, that this will innevertably reduce the number of outlets they are selling to. We never got hold of the new Spod reel, the new Ultegra Ci4 reel will pass us by because the X-Store will have free rain to do deals weeks ahead of us receiving the stock. I am interested to see whether this will perk up Daiwa, Okuma, Penn and the other reel brands, only time will tell.

“Where has the year gone to?”
Our annual birthday is fast approaching 6th February where we have been open at Chester Road for a year. It seems a lifetime ago that we suffered a flood and used to be based in Lymm. How far we have come. To celebrate the event we were looking to do something on Saturday 4th. We were disappointed however with the lack of take up from the companies who products we support and sell through. Some offered to send samples and giveaways as they were already committed to the Zwolle Carp Show in Netherlands. Only one rep asked for details so that he could get the right stock to bring with him and attend. The vast majority however including some of our best selling companies never even acknowledged the email Jamie sent. To say that we were disheartened is an under statement, so we will still celebrate the day, but now just with our close family and regulars.

As you must have noticed I have been busy bringing online the new website. The change was needed as it was all done in a rush last year before we opened. The most noticable thing is the colouring and fonts, but the underlying theme has changed more to a blogging environment. This new style will allow us to present more information about our sport. From Carp, through Fly and Game on to Match, Coarse and finishing with Predator and Sea there should be something for everyone.

To help write the content we needed some help, so we advertised and enlisted anglers from a few disciplines. They have already started to send through content relevant to their species, but this is just the tip of the iceburg, no pun intended as it freezing out there! We still need more content though, so if you fancy getting on board, please email your articles to

Articles can be about anything which you feel is relevent to other anglers. The idea is that people can relate to what you are talking about. They don’t need to be massive articles, a minimum of a few hundred words. Ideas for content can be :

  • Your last session
  • How to tie your favourite rig
  • Review of bait or tackle
  • Show reviews, ie Northern, Brentwood, Big One etc.
  • Any photography lessons

Please send through you words in email or MS Word, with as many pictures you can get in JPG, PNG formats. Don’t bother making it look pretty, it will have to be redone for the website anyway. Just a page of writing is fine.

That about wraps up my first warts and all blog about what it is like to work behind the counter of a busy fishing tackle shop. We have avoided much of the frosty frozen weather that has adorned most of the country, so people are still going fishing in our area which is fantastic.

Until next month.