With the International Fly Tackle Dealer Show (IFTD), now only three months away (September 9-11), I thought I would take a moment to encourage all of you to attend. Why? Because attending will help you, it will help your business, and it will help the flyfishing industry as a whole. While not perfect, the IFTD is still the best option out there by far.
The American Fly Fishing Trade Association has taken a lot of criticism in recent years—some of it deserved, some not. I have taken a few shots myself, in The Drake and elsewhere (mock story about the show being held in Rock Springs, etc.), because, at times, our trade organization was just begging to be made fun of.
Nevertheless, every industry needs a trade group, and AFFTA took the necessary steps last fall and winter to put together a show that WE in the flyfishing industry actually own. And if you make the effort to go this September, you will see that this is NOT the same show that has taken place in the past.
Let me share just two examples. While the date (September) and location (Denver) are sometimes listed as reasons for not attending, cost is often the biggest deterrent.
Potential attendees—whether manufacturers, retailers, or individuals—simply don’t think it’s worth the money to go. And two of the biggest up-front costs are booth space and accommodations.
Both of these up-front costs have been addressed by AFFTA for this year’s show. First, anyone can get an exhibit space for $350. Three Hundred and Fifty Dollars. This cost is 1/4 of what the minimum cost for booth space has been the past couple years ($1,400), and it is a huge step in showing how inclusive AFFTA wants this show to be. Granted, this isn’t a “booth” per se, it’s a four-foot table. But with one four-foot table your booth could look like this:
The second step, taken largely by AFFTA President Randi Swisher, was to secure rooms at the Hyatt Regency for $99. Understand: This does not represent some half-ass, 10-percent-off deal at a suburban shithole sitting five miles away. This is 50 percent off at the HYATT — right next door to the Convention Center:
The Hyatt features Nice rooms:
Some places you will visit:
And some places you won’t:
So, if you aren’t planning on coming to this year’s show, these two changes alone will hopefully make you reconsider. But the biggest reason to come, in my opinion, is that growing—or simply sustaining—an industry like ours is a collective effort, from manufacturers to retailers to guides to magazine publishers. And the more of us that are there, the more energy, creative ideas, and positive results will come from it.
I’ve talked to a lot of people since this show was first being discussed back in December, and I’ve heard many of them say the same thing: “What is AFFTA doing for me?” “What will this trade show do for me?” And I think it’s fair to ask that we look at ourselves, and our businesses, and our fall schedules, and ask:
“What can I do to help the success of the only flyfishing trade show we will see in 2010?”
Book the flights. Book the hotel rooms. Or just book a four-foot table, road-trip to Denver, and crash on a friend’s couch. But come support the industry however you are able, and that effort will surely pay dividends down the road. —Tom Bie
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.