David and Becky Leinweber have been co-owners of Angler’s Covey since 1999. With that kind of history, they have had their share of challenges and joys of owning a small shop. They have worked through incredible changes in their nearly 20 years of being at the helm of Angler’s Covey. I had a chance to sit down and talk with both them as we approach Small Business Saturday.
When I asked about the challenges of owning a small shop, Becky’s first response was “Well, I like to think that ‘challenges’ can also mean ‘what opportunities’ exist.” The conversation turned its focus to the impact that big box stores and internet shopping has had on the market.
“This has given us a great opportunity,” Becky said “to leverage our uniqueness. We provide local expertise that online cannot provide. And our sales team is well-informed about products and is so knowledgeable about our local fishing areas.”
Much of the conversation we had came around to the strength of the Angler’s Covey sales team. “Our staff’s number one priority is to be passionate about the sport they love so much – and to convey that to our customers.”
Because of big box stores and online shopping, products are much more readily available and accessible. “We are a specialty shop, and we used to carry brands that nobody else had,” Becky said. But the times have changed and so has the focus at Angler’s Covey.
“It’s not just about products. We provide services, hands-on experiences, and classes. The services drives the loyalty from our customers – who are pretty selective in their purchases!”
Joy and a Vision
Becky’s comment about the services lead into our conversation about the joys and pleasures of small shop ownership. The idea that kept surfacing with David and Becky was best conveyed through the word “community.” That sense of community and building relationships begins in the shop. “Our staff and guides fish with each other. They build their knowledge together about products we sell, and develop their expertise by going out to the river together. They get personal, hands-on experience with the gear and the local fisheries.”
David has a vision for the shop to build the fly fishing community’s friendships and relationships in more intentional ways. “I want to connect ‘purpose’ and ‘place’ together. We often hear that ‘fly fishing is my church,’ so how do we build on that? How can we explore this adventure together? How can we support stewardship of the resources together? We want to engage the younger generation of fly fishers and part of the way to do that is through more social interaction.”
Shop small, Shop Local
Becky added that part of building those social relationships is seen in the classes offered by Angler’s Covey, relying on the Shop’s foundation as a learning center, exploring opportunities like Open Fly Tying Night, and more. “Pikes Peak Women Anglers is a great group of women who have become fishing buddies after participating in our activities. Now, they seek out each other to go fishing.”
These factors – building friendships with customers, sharing product expertise and knowledge of the area, and advocating stewardship of the resources– all contribute to the purpose of Angler’s Covey. Of course, similar ideals and motivations exist in other small shops in the Pikes Peak region.
Small shops contribute in many ways to the local economy. These shop owners and staff are friends, family members, and neighbors who commit to providing the best products and services they can to their local community. And the money spent here, stays here. Strolling through Old Colorado City or downtown Colorado Springs when Christmas shopping or on Saturday afternoon not only generates foot traffic for local business, it also creates a vibrant community and neighborhood feel.
We hope you enjoy the offerings of small businesses all year long. We live by the saying “ShopSmall! Shop Local!” As the holidays approach, we look forward to seeing you for #SmallBizSat! Watch this blog, our Facebook page, and Instagram for more details and specials! And if you haven’t subscribed to our newsletter, you are missing out on weekly updates on gear and apparel, guided trips and classes, and shop news!