There might be nothing that stops online consumerism from consuming all of human civilization as we know it. The way retail stores have been closing, it seems possible that, less than a decade from now, you won’t have to go anywhere for anything and look at anybody.
While I have not been to see my doctor for an official diagnosis, I believe I recently developed Amazon Aversion Syndrome. I have not ordered a single thing from the Mother of All-Online Sales in months, and I have a feeling I might never again. The main cause is probably a guilty conscience. But that’s OK. Guilt is not entirely a bad thing for the soul. It means you feel some loyalty, that you have a sense of obligation to local people trying to scratch out a living selling stuff.
So I go to the remaining independent bookstores to buy books, and it was good to see the Ivy Bookshop mentioned in Scott Shane’s piece on Amazon Ubiquity in the New York Times. I like hardware stores. I like public markets and farmer’s markets. I prefer shoes from the store near my favorite local saloon. I go to family-owned Lakein’s of Hamilton to buy jewelry or get a watch repaired.
And when it comes to my favorite hobby, fly fishing, I go to fly shops. Anyone who fishes on the fly knows that, once upon a time, there were more fly shops around. And the ones that remain are in competition with the big box stores that shall not be named here. In Maryland, we have Backwater Angler, Great Feathers, the Beaver Creek Fly Shop and, in downtown Frederick, an Orvis shop, Hunting Creek Outfitters. In western Maryland, along the Savage River, there’s Savage River Outfitters.
That’s pretty good, all things considered, and Maryland anglers, or anyone who visits Maryland to fish our streams here should support those places. Why? Because you can’t get personal service and advice from a computer, and I don’t care how many YouTube videos or blogs you read. These local shops are there when you need them, and until someone comes up with streamside drone delivery of 6X tippet, I’m going to keep supporting local fly shops as I travel. It takes extra effort, but it’s worth it for the people you meet, the contacts you make, the stories you hear and the jokes you pick up.
Since it’s pretty rare these days that a new, independent fly shop opens, it’s noteworthy that Tochterman’s Fishing Tackle in Baltimore, which has been in business for 103 years, opened a whole separate fly shop on its second floor, with a Lefty Kreh Room, named for the fly fishing legend who was an outdoors writer for The Baltimore Sun and who lived in central Maryland all his life. Lefty did not live to see Tochterman’s new shop, but he knew about it, and I think it’s a great thing Dee and Tony Tochterman have done with this memorial to Lefty.