Our May Member of the Month is Chris Fleck, owner / outfitter of Stillwater Anglers Fly Shop and Outfitters in Columbus, Montana. The byline on Chris’s website reads “Creating Experiences and Helping to Change Lives!” and his enthusiasm for the sport clearly makes this a priority. Here’s what Chris had to say:
Explain your business — the who, what, why.
I am a fly shop and fly fishing outfitter in Columbus, MT. In 2011, I had the opportunity to expand my existing outfitting business to include a retail fly shop. I’m a small shop and the only one in my area. My goal is simple; to provide an enjoyable fly fishing experience to my customers and clients.
How did your business start?
There had been a small fly shop here in Columbus for 12 years, and in early 2011, the owner had decided he wanted to get out of the retail business and proposed that I take over the shop. Rather than just take over the existing business, I decided to put a brand new shop in its place so I could build it the way I wanted to.
How has AFFTA membership benefitted you?
I became a member of AFFTA in June of 2011 when I opened up the shop. Being a member has provided me an opportunity to keep up on retail business trends, pick up some tips and ideas that I can apply to my business, and learn more about operating a small retail business in general. I haven’t yet attended the IFTD show mainly because it comes at my busy time of the season and it’s virtually impossible for me to get away from my business at that time. I did attend the Dealer Summit this past October which was great!
What’s one things you wish AFFTA members knew about your business?
I’m a small retailer and outfitting service compared to many of the members, but I still have many of the same challenges. We work hard and juggle all the balls to make it happen!
When you’re not in the office, what are you most likely to be found doing?
Being a small business, I wear many hats and do most, if not everything. I try to guide as many of my own trips as possible, and I also guide for a few other outfitters in the area as well. When I’m not on the river, I’m in the shop and vice versa. One of the beauties of my business is that it is so personalized. When customers and clients stop in the shop or call, they’re most likely going to be dealing with me directly.
If you’d like to be featured as a member of the month (we’re especially looking to feature guides in upcoming months!), emails Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org.