Everyone loves the novelty of custom handmade gear;
especially when it comes to fishing. The concept is pretty cool. Something comes from the imagination of a creator and they build it, try it out, scrap the bad ones, start over, and builds it again. They repeat this process over and over again until the end result is exactly right. It’s that love and desire for that one specified result which drives these individuals to building their masterpiece. Sure, there’s some money involved – it’s business. However, that’s not their driving force. The driving force behind what they do is because they see a problem, or maybe not a problem but more how they can do something better, and they solve it and/or make it better. Mass production lines are good for making inexpensive, marginally quality gear. But when it gets to that point, it’s all about the money and the results only have to be “good enough.”
“…these creators liked what was already mass produced, but knew they could do it better.”
I was raised in an interesting household where “good enough” never really was. I guess that’s the by-product of being raised by an Olympic Champion. It’s served me well in the Marines, where I’ve never really been satisfied with the status quo. When I really began to drill down into tournament bass fishing, that same mindset came into play a lot. I began to experiment with a ton of different small companies, and found that the solutions they came up with to issues I already thought were solved were ingenious. It all stems from the fact that these creators liked what was already mass produced, but knew they could do it better. When jigs started coming out in the industry, they were all hand tied – there was literally no other way. Then mass production happened and the rubber band added to the skirts came into play. Well, rubber deteriorates and slips down the hook. So, small companies began to tie their jigs once again. Some have gone to using copper wire to tie those skirts because it will last that much longer.
“they try to match mass production prices.”
Now comes the price points. Seriously, some of these small manufacturers cut their own throats. For the amount of love and passion they put into their products, they try to match mass production prices. Seriously? You’re going to work 40 hours a week pouring your heart and soul into your creation, and only ask the same prices as the mass produced competition? I see this all the time, people want to come into the store, I tell them what I need to be able to cover the website operating costs, delivery costs, and media costs while selling their products and they scoff at it. “But I’m only making X per jig, and I make them,” is what I will hear. My only thought is, WHY? Why do you do this to yourself? American Handmade is not and should never be cheap. But the customers will buy X if I don’t. Really? You’re worried about a mass produced item outselling yours? If that’s your concern, you don’t believe in your products enough.
“…you’re going to buy two to three times the amount of it because it WILL fall apart on you. That’s a guarantee.”
Now from the consumers I hear, “Well box store brand X sells a similar item for less.” Right, and you’re going to buy two to three times the amount of it because it WILL fall apart on you. That’s a guarantee. Look at Abu Garcia for example. Up until they got bought out by Pure Fishing, they were outstanding! Seriously, I still have some reels I bought in 2008 and 2009, barely maintain, and they’re still rocking strong. However, my gen 2 and 3 models bought between 2013 and 2015 are already starting to fall apart. Why? They wanted a lighter product and went to more mass production. Now they’re not better than any Pro Qualifier on the market. Now enter 13 Fishing and some other brands. 13 Fishing doesn’t have an old and respected name in the industry. So when they launch a new line of reels, their whole existence literally lies in the quality of what they’re putting out. Think about the amount of risk it took for a tiny company like them to go full bore into the no bearings Concept Z. A radically new approach, at least for the inshore and bass community, that couples with a bunch of naysayers and they’re fighting up Hamburger Hill. But they’re doing it, and they’re almost to the crest. Why? Because the fact is, the naysayers are just that. They’re afraid of change and they’ve been so accustomed to the marketing done by big companies that anything outside the accepted norm is quite frightening to them.
“new small company stuff can be frightening.”
That brings me to my next point though, new small company stuff can be frightening. Seriously, look at the Flying Lure, the Helicopter Lure, and a number of garage started gimmick lures on the market. Some guy dumps a lot of money into a crazy late night marketing program and now we have people afraid to try new things. They’re not wrong, it’s what we’ve been subjected to.
Cross Bone Outfitters is here to change that!
That’s why I started this business and will keep trudging on. I’m taking the hardest road possible in the industry and blazing a trail here. Those outstanding small companies deserve a voice, and the customers deserve to be given the quality they’re paying for. There’s no better time than the present to change the future, and if my goal is met the future will have people looking to small companies and demanding that the mass produced lines be replaced by handmade-with-love gear. It’s all about getting one of those companies on board at a time.