With the “feather hair extension” craze, many fly shops and tying material retailers have seen a HUGE increase in business. We ran a previous article on the impact at the supplier level (“Whiting EuroHackle- Fashion killer the Fly Tyer).
This topic has left the retail shops in a hard spot. As the economy put the squeeze on small businesses, the fashion market was placing single orders that we equal to a half month’s sales. But there has been some push back from tiers. Here are some comments from our last article
— “This really sucks! Is nothing sacred anymore?…”
— “This is just a fad. Your beauty supply and hair salons will be a great place to find cheap feather, once, the fad is gone. Most will over buy and will be stuck with the extra. Keep a eye on ebay.”
— “…The hackle producers will breed more birds and when fickle fashion falls from favor fellow fly fishers find feathers frugally priced…”
We reached out to J.Stockard, a fly fishing/tying retail shop (and major Hatches sponsor)… and here is their thoughts.
“Thought you might be interested to hear my thoughts on the current hackle situation. While Whiting is creating smaller packs to address the ‘hobbyist’ demand for hackle, from our vantage point, the real demand is coming, not from hobbyists, but big time buyers. For the last few weeks, we’ve been getting $500 – $1000 orders regularly (most we can no longer fill). Two weeks ago, we got 2 calls in succession, the first caller purchased all our full (all grades) Whiting saddle hackle. The 2nd took all our ½ and ¼ saddles. There are plenty of hobbyists around too, they are not where the volume is.
In my view, this is not great business for fly shops (us included). None of these buyers are long-term, loyal customers like the fly tyers we want to attract and serve. The hobbyists are really HIGH maintenance and many are now ordering hackle that won’t work for them. We’ve stopped shipping unless we confirm the order and explain exactly what types of feathers they’ll be getting. They’ve now moved onto bugger packs, steamer deceiver packs, etc. It’s crazy…
Unrelated to this winter’s hackle fad, I thought you might light to see the attached picture. We sold these feathers (shipped overnight to Paris) to a major fashion designer last fall. We thought it was fun! Little did we know what was to come.” – http://www.jsflyfishing.com
… so it sounds like Capes aren’t the only thing being scooped up? bugger packs… deciever packs…. yak…. Lady Amhurst tails? Everyone involved knows this is just a fad, and will be far behind us a year from now. But with unhappy tiers being turned off by manufactures and retailers, the lasting effects could have impact well after the last extension is strung.
Are there any Hatches readers out there plucking there saddles and running down to the hair salon?
Is your fly shop now evaluating a customer with questions like, “what patterns do you need these feathers to tie?