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Top retailer welcomes IFTD move to Denver

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David Leinweber, owner and President of Angler’s Covey, is enthusiastic about IFTD’s return to Denver.

The decision to move the fly fishing industry’s flagship trade show back to Denver has been universally applauded by manufacturers, according to feedback due to be published in the next issue Angling International.

But how has the news been received by dealers, whose support of the International Fly Tackle Dealer (IFTD) show when it was previously in the Colorado location left much to be desired?

Angling International put some pointed questions to David Leinweber, owner and President of Angler’s Covey, one of the best-known fly shops in the US, to get a dealer perspective. Last year’s show in Orlando was the first IFTD that he has ever missed, and he attended the Fly Fishing Retailer Expo in Denver for ten years before that.

Do you think the move is likely to attract more dealers?

I absolutely think it will, but it will be a little hard to measure because not only is the show moving to Denver it is also moving to off-season for most fly shops in this region. Having the show in October will make it easy for small shops to close down a day or two and attend.

Larger shops like mine have most of our outerwear and sportswear placed before IFTD, so having an October show to work out hard goods and accessories will be awesome – perfect actually. I can now come to the show with a full season of reports and have an intelligent conversation with my key vendor partners. Asking me ‘how’s business’ in the middle of July is kind of pointless.

The show suffered in its last years at Denver. What is going to change to attract more dealers this time around?

This is again a matter of interpretation. In the late 90s there was a huge growth in the fly fishing market. Fly shops were opening all over the country and over-distribution caused the initial weakening of our bricks and mortar shops. The decline in attendance at IFTD Denver was directly connected to the closing of fly shops across the US as a result of over-distribution and the rise of the internet. When 200 fly shops close their doors over a five-year period, it has an effect on trade show attendance.

Also important is that most fly outlets pre-2008 were ‘ma and pop’ shops and it was hard to find good retailers. Most of those shops came to the early shows because of the experience. They wanted to get Lefty’s autograph, not because it made good business sense. They came with the wrong motives. When the checking accounts tightened up, travel to the show was problematic. Also, the show began to move earlier and earlier in the year based on demands from production in China. Show dates were always about a few key manufacturers who needed lead times to get product to market.

What benefits will be lost by not co-locating with ICAST? 

Money. ICAST offered IFTD a sweet deal to come and share space. It was a great move on ICAST’s part to allow IFTD to attend and IFTD needed some money to help it get on its feet again. But the negatives have overshadowed the benefits of going to Orlando in July.

Beyond the cost savings to AFFTA to put on a show, there is no other benefit in partnering with ICAST. ASA is not interested in small market fly shops. It uses the term specialty retailer to describe Cabela’s, not a one-door fly shop that sells $500,000 a year.

Ultimately, do you think it is going to be a good thing for the fly fishing industry?

Absolutely a good thing. The number one rule in business is to take care of your customer’s needs. IFTD over the past ten years has lost sight of that. If IFTD is for fly shop dealers then it needs to serve them with both a central location that has good airport access and nearby fishing opportunities, along with good after-season timing. Orlando in July is a double negative.

Ÿ • See Angling International’s full report on IFTD’s move to Denver in its May issue.

Filed In: Flies, Fly Reels, Fly Rods, Product News

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