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By Rich Farino
So after 15 years in the fly fishing industry, my shop closed last January, '16. Left me without a job, without a career, and without a place I looked forward to going to everyday for more than a decade. After serious thinking, a shitty year, and hitting some lows in my life, I decided that I'm going to go back to doing what I love best - running a fly fishing business.

Fly fishermen have this love affair with the sport and their dreams of being a part of it, being an industry insider, retiring from their career as doctors or lawyers or analysts and lobbyists, and becoming fly fishing guides or travel agents, industry reps, opening up their own shops, or just want to be in it for discounts and fishing invitations. It's not for everyone, and I thought it would be good to document the journey of my attempt to build a fly shop from scratch. I'll be writing about the trials and tribulations of my old shop closing, the highs and lows of life, and the effort trying to open a new one. I'll try to update it regularly, as I remember it, and as things happen.

January 3rd, 2016

Just got notice that our store is officially closing at the end of the month. We're going to have to pack everything up and ship it to our main store, and I'm going to have to tell my 3 guys that as of Jan 31st, they will no longer be employed. I was told sometime in December that if we didn't have a great Christmas, they were going to evaluate whether or not to close the doors. Too much of a loss in 2015 to keep afloat. I understood the economics behind the decision, but it was still a bite in the ass to tell my guys they needed to find work elsewhere. I also bought a house and got engaged the year before, in Washington DC no less, so how the fuck are we going to afford a mortgage and a wedding?
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January 7th, 2016

I rushed to get the numbers together and work out what buying the current business would cost. I spoke with a few of my best customers to potentially partner with me to do this. Market research, analyzing past profit and loss statements, and some help from the owners to help move it along.
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These guys gave me some great feedback, but weren't really interested in buying the current failing business nor be in the same location. They also wouldn't help if I wasn't going to be vested in the company. Important to have someone who wouldn't pack up and leave when the going got tough.

I'll have to start thinking of other ways to make this work. I can't believe that all the hard work forming great relationships with our folks down here in the DC area is going to end. We've had to compete with a ton of other competition in the area including 5 Orvis stores, 3 Dick's Sporting Goods, a BassPro, an LL Bean, and a few other smaller retailers all within a 45 minute radius, and we did well for ourselves. Sure we were hamstrung a bit but we made it work... just not enough. Was this all a sign to just get out of the industry and move on?

January 20th, 2016

Amazing job opportunity just landed in my lap. A very large DC NGO reached out to me about a position working for them doing outreach with recreational anglers form New York to North Carolina, talking conservation. I was asked to come into their main office and interview. I would have to stand on my own merits for this job, and I'd shift from making money to making a difference. Being on the right side of history is extremely noble, especially in the marine conservation field, and something I had worked towards from junior high school to date. To say this was the opportunity of a lifetime was an understatement.

In the meantime, unemployment would have to help me pay the bills. I just pray to the flying spaghetti monster I don't get sick.
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Last edited by Rich Farino on Sun Feb 28, 2021 11:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
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By Rich Farino
February 7th, 2016

It's my birthday today, but we're not really celebrating. Mother in-law diagnosed with stage IIIc cancer - a mother of 3 who never smoked or drank alcohol, a vegetarian, an active woman her entire life. I've been trying to make time to be there for the fiancee and her family. The MIL treated me like her own son, teaching me about Indian cooking, and constantly asking me when I'm going to get married. Her family is thinking positive and we're exploring every option.

February 23th, 2016

So I've been a licensed fishing guide and decided to expand the business a little. I made a phone call to the guys that run the F3T film tour that I've run in our area since I moved here and they were happy to continue to let me run the film tour, since my name is on all the paperwork. This boosted my morale a bit, knowing that people I've worked with for so long trust me and wanted to continue to partner with me to make events successful. So I had a logo made by our own Fishlore.
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February 25th, 2016

Awesome job opportunity came up. The company that manages all of the outdoor recreation in Washington DC was looking for someone to manage their retail operations. After the hour-long interview I'm told it's a seasonal position that disappears in October. Not the permanent employment I was looking for, and the NGO job is a million times better, and I want to hold out for that job. I'm told he'll hold the job for me for 30 days. He wants me to work for him. I've used their boats to fish for shad every spring on the Potomac, and it'd be nice to be able to make that experience better for everyone else.
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February 26th, 2016

Walked around my neighborhood here in DC. Found a shrine to Michael Jackson. Reminded me of all the fishing related shit in my shed - my personal stuff, guide gear, and everything I owned that I took back once my old shop closed. You really forget just how quickly it can all add up.
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March 4th, 2016

Had my interview with that NGO... I haven't had a legitimate job interview since I was in my 20's. To say I was nervous was an understatement. This meeting is a big deal and despite it being the dream job, I need to make something of myself. This job takes my schooling and work in marine biology and my fly shop dealings with recreational anglers and makes it into a real career opportunity. I got to meet the entire mid-Atlantic team and really enjoyed learning about them, what they do, and how I can help them. I haven't been this excited about a job opportunity since I was asked to come work for the flyshop I gave 15 years to.

March 8th, 2016
Today we spent several hours in the hospital with the mother in-law. I've been helping out where I can and today they needed me. It's been hard developing trust with a future relative and watching them deal with something they don't deserve.

I received a phone call from another team member from the NGO and we had a good 45 minute phone conversation from the hospital parking lot. I'm feeling more positive about this opportunity and I've been researching more about the company and the conservation efforts they've put forward over the last decade. Sure I'd have to wear a suit everyday to work, but I'd be in the office 50% of the time, and I'd be working with fisherman up and down the mid-Atlantic seaboard.

I thought about how this job could potentially be the culmination of my life's work teaching kids marine science at a museum, and working in the fishing industry. The more I thought about it, the more I laughed at my desire as a kid to study sharks evolving into me putting hooks in their face, right back into the conservation side again.
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March 23rd, 2016
Hosted the fly fishing film tour tonight. Sold out theater, and a lot of people continued to come up to me and talk to me about getting a shop open. The outpouring of positive support was overwhelming and I have to admit it really got the motors in my head working about my choices in life. Did I really make that much of an impact that 300+ people really missed having a place to bullshit, talk fishing, drink mediocre coffee while attending free fly tying clinics every other Saturday? Either way, I was humbled.
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April 19th, 2016

More time has elapsed, and my mother in-law's health has been in decline. She hasn't been doing well and my future wife has been trying to be strong for her entire family as the primary caretaker. I don't wish this on anyone. We're all hurting and trying to be strong.

Another 2 interviews with the NGO at this point. I'm being vetted by the team I'll be working with, and they're telling me great things. I've turned down 4 jobs now, really aiming for this position. Every other applicant was eliminated and the team wants me for the job. Just one more person to meet and I'll know just which way they're leaning.

April 23rd, 2016

Got a chance to finally get out and do some fishing. Fished some headwaters to the Potomac River and got a chance to float a river I really enjoy. Wild and scenic, and although it's 3 hours away from DC, it still sees the effect of pollution and urban decay due to the paper mill and effluent dumping into the river. Sometimes I forget just how much I really enjoy being out on the water and doing what I love.
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Last edited by Rich Farino on Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:12 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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By root wad
Nice to have something here that makes me look forward to checking in. As a former shop owner I am right there with you.
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I'm looking forward to the story, Rich. I'm sorry for what your girl and her family are going (have been) through.

Life is fucking hard.
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By flashback
Hoping to see as the story continues. Visited the shop not long before it closed, very nice place, so sad to see it go.
When I told you I am a Drakian, you said something like you didn't know whether to punch me out or welcome me, sort of the typical way that we all react until we find out who the schmuck is.
You would always be welcome up this way.
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By austrotard
austrian doors are always open, no matter who you are, where you've come from or what religion you follow... for face punching.

no fucking worries.
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By austrotard

I'll take that as a warning mr. raffa, sir.

can I have my avatar back?
this one is giving me nothing but grief with the ab originals.
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You and I both know that banning someone doesn't work here. They just sign in and post away.
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By fly-chucker
RFA wrote:You and I both know that banning someone doesn't work here. They just sign in and post away.
CrispyCracker wrote:I'm rooting for you, Rich. Keep pluggin'.

case in point :coffee
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By Lurgee
I like the first few chapters (but sorry for the mechanisms that created your inspiration), tugs at the emotions and creates a strong sense of hope.

I'm optimistic for you....
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