For almost 40 years, the Fisherman’s Spot had existed in relative peace and quiet in Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. But at 4:30 a.m. on June 18, trouble came knocking as burglars smashed in the front door and ransacked the quaint shop, quickly exiting with some $45,000 worth of fly gear.
“It would be nice to think our sport’s immune to this kind of stuff,” says Ken Lindsay, co-owner of the Spot. “I suppose it’s a sign of the times.”
Apparently so. Within a month of the incident, two other fly shops in the area – Performance Anglers in Mammoth Lakes and Owens River Fly Shop in Bishop – were also burglarized, Lindsay says.
And, in July, thousands of miles away in Orlando, Florida, thieves hit another shop, the Fly Fisherman, where they made off with $20,000 worth of sunglasses and expensive fly reels. The incident followed a break-in earlier that summer at Betts Fishing Center in Largo. The stolen goods there? Sunglasses and high-end reels.
“What can you do?” says Gary Kokaisel, owner of the Fly Fisherman. “You just have to beef up security as best you can and go with the flow.”
Fortunately for Kokaisel and Lindsay, insurance policies will cover most of the losses. But the incidents certainly didn’t help in what had already been a challenging year in the world of retail.
“It’s a major blow, obviously,” says Lindsay. “But we’re fortunate in that we had back stock to keep things going. And a lot of our vendors were kind and extended terms so we could get the money from the insurance company.”
For now, both shops are safeguarding against future incidents. “We’re installing roll-down gates and that sort of thing,” says Lindsay. “We’ve resisted it for a while, but we figure it’s just something we’ve got to do.”
They’re also trying to keep things in perspective as best they can. “We had a nice little mess to clean up; that’s for sure,” Kokaisel chuckles. “But that darn fingerprint dust is really tough to get up!”
Laughter’s sometimes the best remedy.