Van Nuys, CA
The Fishermen’s Spot has been serving the Southern California region for more than 40 years. Tenacity, exceptional customer service, and deft product know-how all play into such impressive longevity. But never discount dumb luck, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to face reality, says shop co-owner Ken Lindsay.
“In the end it’s the same as any business, you’ve got to take care of your customers and keep them happy,” he adds. "My partner, Steve Ellis, always says our store is like Cheers, where everybody knows your name… and we’re always glad you came. We hope our customers get that feeling when they come into the shop.”
The Spot began business as an all-tackle dealer in the early ’70s. In 2001, it dropped the gear angle to move into full-time specialty flyfishing due to shrinking margins in conventional tackle and increasing pressure from big box stores such as Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.
“We made it work by bringing in a selection of the ‘right stuff’ and specializing,” Lindsay says. “Furthermore, it got too expensive to carry two sets of inventories, one for fly and one for everything else.”
Before joining the business Lindsay was a shop regular—nail-knotted to the industry as a seasoned rep. And despite the associated pitfalls, he still bought in. “I guess you have to love the biz to get in and stay in,” he says. “I love the every day connection to the other anglers. The big stories and the BS.”
LA, with its community of big swinging Hollywood types, had no shortage of the latter. And the shop has had to adapt in order to fit it and survive where many have failed. That meant adopting a feel good, friendly vibe and catering to a wide array of waters. Today, the Fishermen's Spot targets spring creek trout in the Sierras and carp in the LA River, in addition to developing strong saltwater and warmwater followings. Its clients travel extensively “so we have to be prepared for many different types of fishing from bluegill to marlin,” Lindsay says.
Recently, an academy award winner stopped in to pick up gear for a fishing trip. “As he walked into the store my partner, Steve, yelled across the shop in front of other customers, ‘Just ‘cuz you won a fucking Oscar, don’t think we’re gonna give you a discount.’ People like to be treated like one of the guys. There are hardcore tiers, old hippies, actors, and musicians, and down right fish bums. They all want to talk fishing or go fishing. We also carry a good inventory of collectable flyfishing equipment for that clientele niche, too.”
The Fishermen’s Spot has been able to tap into new customers and maintain strong ties with regulars through outreach efforts in the form of several annual shop events. These popular free sessions specialize in angler education, include area guides and industry reps, and are designed to put new product in customers’ hands.
As a business model for sustainability and growth it’s worked. Forty years later, The Fishermen’s Spot provides a sense of home away from home… where everybody knows your name. Cheers to that.
For more information on the Fishermen’s Spot, click here.