Anglers All has good energy. Natural light shines from the two-story windows. Railroad Earth and a snoring dog provide the soundtrack. Employees greet customers with a firm handshake and a “What can we do for ya?”
The shop opened in Littleton, Colorado in 1954 under the original name of Mountainview Tackle. Colorado’s population back then was less than 1.5 million. In the past six decades, the shop has changed location, hands, and name. These days Anglers All is here to outfit the nearly three million residents of the Denver Metro Area.
When Chris Keeley acquired the shop during the throes of the recession in 2009, he knew he needed to evolve to stay competitive. One of his first moves was to expand the tying section, which now occupies a quarter of the store. The goal is to be the tying shop in the Front Range.
The next pivot Keeley made was to factor in fishing outside of Colorado. Rumor has it that Denver is the country’s busiest departure point for traveling flyfishers. Keeley decided to base the shop’s business model off of that rumor, while still keeping a local emphasis.
“So many people in Denver travel to fish all year round and they need to be able to be outfitted before they leave. If you come in and you want to tie some flies, buy your clothes, get your rods and reels and lines all set up for the Seychelles, the Skeena, the Dream Stream, we can help you,” Keeley says.
Keeley acknowledges that Anglers All can’t prepare customers for every destination. Rather than guessing what flies you might need on the Deschutes with the goal of a one-time upsell, Keeley encourages customers to stop at a local fly shop along the way. “Get some of the local patterns that we don’t have,” he says.
Another change Keeley made was axing the shop’s outfitting business in exchange for its successful travel program. The shop has relationships with lodges and outfitters around the world, providing float-trips in Chile and llama-powered adventures on Colorado’s alpine lakes.
In order to prepare customers for any fishing scenario, the shop carries a wide array of merchandise. A corner of the shop is devoted to rods, featuring both premium and entry-level brands with weights ranging from zero to Spey. Customers are invited to dial in their two-handed setup by testing rods and a range of Skagit and Scandi heads on the South Platte River, which runs behind the shop. You can cast smaller rods on the front lawn, but try not to lasso passing customers on your backcast.
Anglers All’s reel selection is massive. It also carries packs, vests, and outerwear, and is on track to be the top Patagonia wader seller in the US for 2016. But they also carry Simms and Redington. Inventory runs from $149 to zippered. Shop travel coordinator Doug Garvey likened buying waders to buying tires. “No one wants to spend money on tires but when you do, you get a better product.” Additionally, the shop rents a full on-the-water package that includes waders, rod, reel, and line. You’re welcome to keep them for a day or a week.
Keeleys recognizes that Anglers All is more than a business.
“The biggest thing is that the customers know the name on the outside of the building is bigger than anyone here. We’re caretakers, just like all the previous owners. Hopefully I’m going to pass it on in better shape to someone else. It’s kind of a Littleton institution. Being in the same city for 62 years selling tackle is pretty neat.”