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      "Using" outfitters...     

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carmike
distinguished member(1740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/21/2020 11:22PM
Hello all,

I have a question about outfitter etiquette. Do you call up outfitters you've never used and ask for anything approaching in-depth information? I know you *can* do it, and you might get some answers, but personally, I don't like "using" outfitters that I've never done business with. Just my .02.

I dearly hope John and Lynn at VNO have taken at least one winter trip to somewhere warm based on the bait, canoe, bunkhouse, gear, John's super-secret lake trout lures, massive permit-issuing fees!, etc. I've purchased there. So I don't feel bad calling them up (they almost certainly don't know me by name), asking for some info re: water levels, campsites, bears, bait, bites, lures, etc. The same is true for a few others, scattered around the park.

But recently I entered EP 51 (Missing Link), right by Tuscarora Lodge/Outfitters. Having never been to their establishment, and with no need to stop in this time around given COVID/permitting situations, I didn't feel right calling to ask for information. So I just headed in, blessed with info from this site and that gleaned from divination into the entrails of ruminant mammals. Things turned out fine, though I would've liked a bit more info on lake trout depths, busy-ness, bear activity, stock market forecasts, etc.

So....I know I'm weird, but am I the only one? :)
 
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Duckman
distinguished member (413)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 06:17AM
My hunch is most outfitters would help you out. Call it an investment in future business.

Plus, most outfitters are pretty passionate about this thing and would likely love to help you out anyway, purchase or not.
 
09/22/2020 07:32AM
Just to pick on one outfitter, in early May I wandered into VNO just to look around and I think John and Lynn talked to us for 45 minutes about future trip ideas. Just happened organically just people who love the BWCA/Quetico talking. We had to stop them from talking as we had to meet some friends. We used them for just a bunkhouse in July and we barely talked. Not that we tried...it was the timing. They had tons of groups coming though, it was super busy. I didn’t try to pump them for info, I feel that would have been rude to all the other people around waiting IMHO. To tell the truth it was so busy, just wanted my room key and move on too :) I am biased about VNO being great, but I’ve had similar experiences with other outfitters giving info—-not really giving more conversing and sharing.

I guess I’d say getting info depends on timing. Empty store, socialize, maybe buy an item/souvenir I bet you will get info. Stop in while they are busy with customers—especially customers who are on their first trip spending money on full outfitting and obviously need help...I personally wouldn’t interrupt or take their time. So it really depends.

T

 
bottomtothetap
distinguished member(757)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 09:05AM
Duckman: "My hunch is most outfitters would help you out. Call it an investment in future business.

Plus, most outfitters are pretty passionate about this thing and would likely love to help you out anyway, purchase or not."

I agree with Duckman. I can't fathom the amount of "free" advice I've given out over the years in my business. It's just what you do if you truly want to be of service and if you want to sow seeds that may (and often do) result in paying customers.
 
Jackfish
Moderator
 
09/22/2020 11:36AM
I tend to think more along the lines of Carmike. I feel it's kind of like going into REI and pulling as much information as I can from one of the staff members, then going home and buying the product from Amazon.

I guess if I were to stop in at an outfitter, I'd buy a map, some Bungee Dealee Bobs, a t-shirt or hat, live bait or something... then start asking for information. To me, it just seems like the right thing to do.
 
cyclones30
distinguished member(2575)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 12:55PM
Usually if I'm using an outfitter (lately I have just to rent canoes) I'll ask them some general info. Water levels, possibility of a fire ban, etc. But that's just good info to be safe and such.....fishing spots and the like I feel are a different level and don't bug them about that stuff. However, if they're willing to share I'll listen :) (thanks John at VNO)

I do not call outfitters that I'm not doing business with, never felt any reason to.
 
Duckman
distinguished member (413)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 01:57PM
Jackfish: "I tend to think more along the lines of Carmike. I feel it's kind of like going into REI and pulling as much information as I can from one of the staff members, then going home and buying the product from Amazon.

I guess if I were to stop in at an outfitter, I'd buy a map, some Bungee Dealee Bobs, a t-shirt or hat, live bait or something... then start asking for information. To me, it just seems like the right thing to do. "

I agree with this. Even when you're not outfitting with them, if you're picking their brain, you can probably throw a little business their way. At least a coke and a sticker/shirt/etc.!
 
scat
distinguished member(896)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 02:41PM
Totally agree also. Being a salesman in a really crappy biz, I get ‘used’ all the time. I won’t waste someone else’s. It’s bad karma.
 
Northwoodsman
distinguished member(1500)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 03:04PM
I think that most look at it as an investment in their business, a marketing tool, and just the right thing to do by providing info. I'm in sales and it's a given that at trade shows lot of people are wearing a name badge that belongs to someone else, or have it turned around backwards. I just do my best to assist them. More than once at the end of a conversation has someone shaken my hand and handed me a business card and they are the President, CEO, COO, CFO, or VP of a very large company. At one such event I was unknowingly speaking to Jimmy John (as in Jimmy John's) and he gave me either $50 or $100 in gift cards for my kids. I find that by providing info to anyone that asks usually pays off in huge dividends in the long run.
 
OCDave
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09/22/2020 04:21PM
I recall reading a thread a while back about an outfitter charging $2 just to issue a permit. Granted, one outfitter among many but, it made me less inclined to utilized any outfitter except one with whom I am already exchanging cash for services.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(785)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/22/2020 04:54PM
There’s no harm in asking. They can choose how they want to respond. All info is not created equal, either. If you buy a $2 sticker you may get some basic stuff like water temps or bear intel, whereas stocking up on sweatshirts for Christmas gifts might make the info flow a bit more freely. Or not. I have personally given my business to 3 different outfitters on the gunflint trail over the past few years and have yet to receive what I would call any “secrets” in terms of fishing spots. Usually nothing that I haven’t read here or already learned from experience. Your mileage may vary of course.

We do always try to spend some money if we go in. Last summer we were launching our motorboat on Saganaga at the access just past Chik-Wauk. I forgot there was a fee and all I had was a 50 in my wallet. We drove back to Seagull outfitters and I just bought a map and some candy bars to break the bill. I didn’t need the stuff but I felt like a heel just asking for change, especially during a pandemic.
 
pilot
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09/22/2020 05:25PM
Jackfish: "I tend to think more along the lines of Carmike. I feel it's kind of like going into REI and pulling as much information as I can from one of the staff members, then going home and buying the product from Amazon.


I guess if I were to stop in at an outfitter, I'd buy a map, some Bungee Dealee Bobs, a t-shirt or hat, live bait or something... then start asking for information. To me, it just seems like the right thing to do. "


Agreed.
 
bwcadan
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09/22/2020 08:53PM
Plus 1 for me.
 
lundojam
distinguished member(2525)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/23/2020 06:56AM
I don't feel right about asking for free advice. We always try to spend some money.
 
HangLoose
distinguished member(798)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/23/2020 08:18AM
I do occasionally "use" outfitters, and even if I don't purchase anything on that particular phone call or visit, I will definitely return later to spend some money if that outfitter is friendly and helpful. That is what ANY good business is all about.

I will need equipment, outfitting, and bunkhouse accomodations on almost every trip. I take 3+ trips per year and eventually will need to spend some outfitting money in almost every corner of the wilderness. I will return to those outfitters that were helpful with my inquires in the past.
 
paddlinjoe
distinguished member (394)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/23/2020 08:53AM
If I were an outfitter I think I'd love to talk the BWCA with anyone that had a question. But as a customer I think like carmike. I'm much more comfortable asking for that inside knowledge if I'm also doing, or have done business with them.

Example. After years of bwca trips I don't need to use an outfitter for any gear, but recently discovered the joy of stopping for a shower at an Ely outfitter after a trip, but before we go eat and drive home. Because the cost seems so low compared to the benefit of driving home clean, I always try to purchase additional items from the outfitter because I'm not otherwise using their services. I'd gladly pay 4x what they charge for a shower. Same theory goes when picking up a permit. The Forest Service closes much earlier than most outfitters, so I often use one in order to pick up the permit the evening before a trip.
 
scat
distinguished member(896)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/23/2020 07:31PM
Yeah - I get my bait before, license, any advice, not much asked for, and stop for a shower and a laugh after the trip. They get the dough I need to spend to have a trip, I get what I need. Doesn’t need to get more complicated than that. Nobody owes anybody any favors. A smile never hurts tho. Try to include that in any exchange.
 
09/24/2020 08:05AM
This year I didn’t buy anything from an outfitter, so I felt it would be uncouth to ask for their time. Instead I called the Forest Service, and they were helpful. Even though the station is closed, they are still available by phone.
 
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2612)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/27/2020 08:30PM
timatkn: "Just to pick on one outfitter, in early May I wandered into VNO just to look around and I think John and Lynn talked to us for 45 minutes about future trip ideas. Just happened organically just people who love the BWCA/Quetico talking. We had to stop them from talking as we had to meet some friends. We used them for just a bunkhouse in July and we barely talked. Not that we tried...it was the timing. They had tons of groups coming though, it was super busy. I didn’t try to pump them for info, I feel that would have been rude to all the other people around waiting IMHO. To tell the truth it was so busy, just wanted my room key and move on too :) I am biased about VNO being great, but I’ve had similar experiences with other outfitters giving info—-not really giving more conversing and sharing.


I guess I’d say getting info depends on timing. Empty store, socialize, maybe buy an item/souvenir I bet you will get info. Stop in while they are busy with customers—especially customers who are on their first trip spending money on full outfitting and obviously need help...I personally wouldn’t interrupt or take their time. So it really depends.


T

"


Tim, It was probably me (Lynn) you had to stop from talking, eh? :-) I get talking about canoe trips, fishing and the area and enjoy the talk of wilderness travel (gets me through the summer until I can get out myself). Hope your friends weren't upset if you were late & you can always blame me. Talking runs in my family, we all "suffer" that problem.
 
Cc26
distinguished member (226)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/28/2020 09:51AM
I feel bad going into a gas station to use the bathroom without buying anything.
 
schweady
distinguished member(6996)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
 
09/28/2020 11:20AM
Ask John at VNO to mark up your map and get ready to watch a Picasso at work.
 
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2612)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/28/2020 05:11PM
Cc26: "I feel bad going into a gas station to use the bathroom without buying anything."

Me too! :-) A can of pop, a bag of chips or the like.
 
09/28/2020 08:53PM
VoyageurNorth: "timatkn: "Just to pick on one outfitter, in early May I wandered into VNO just to look around and I think John and Lynn talked to us for 45 minutes about future trip ideas. Just happened organically just people who love the BWCA/Quetico talking. We had to stop them from talking as we had to meet some friends. We used them for just a bunkhouse in July and we barely talked. Not that we tried...it was the timing. They had tons of groups coming though, it was super busy. I didn’t try to pump them for info, I feel that would have been rude to all the other people around waiting IMHO. To tell the truth it was so busy, just wanted my room key and move on too :) I am biased about VNO being great, but I’ve had similar experiences with other outfitters giving info—-not really giving more conversing and sharing.



I guess I’d say getting info depends on timing. Empty store, socialize, maybe buy an item/souvenir I bet you will get info. Stop in while they are busy with customers—especially customers who are on their first trip spending money on full outfitting and obviously need help...I personally wouldn’t interrupt or take their time. So it really depends.



T


"



Tim, It was probably me (Lynn) you had to stop from talking, eh? :-) I get talking about canoe trips, fishing and the area and enjoy the talk of wilderness travel (gets me through the summer until I can get out myself). Hope your friends weren't upset if you were late & you can always blame me. Talking runs in my family, we all "suffer" that problem.
"


Ha...Actually it was John...he got on a role :) This was probably way back in the early 2000’s. We had never been to The Q and John talked us into it. Hopefully you took it as a compliment, we weren’t expecting info, just love stopping in outfitter shops and shopping used gear or looking around.

T
 
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2612)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
09/28/2020 09:00PM
timatkn; yes, did take it as a compliment. :-)

Still amazed it wasn't me! But talking about Quetico routes is one of John's definite strong points.

Stop in any time, unless we are crazy busy, we are always happy to talk.
 
acanoer
member (42)member
 
09/29/2020 11:17AM
VoyageurNorth: "timatkn; yes, did take it as a compliment. :-)


Still amazed it wasn't me! But talking about Quetico routes is one of John's definite strong points.


Stop in any time, unless we are crazy busy, we are always happy to talk."


The sign of a good businessman,
 
MN_Lindsey
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10/02/2020 07:39PM
Yes, but also I don't abuse it.

Mostly it's in the winter for ice reports.
 
MN_Lindsey
distinguished member(2146)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/02/2020 07:42PM
schweady: "Ask John at VNO to mark up your map and get ready to watch a Picasso at work.
"


#Facts

John & Lynn are the best!
Dan @ Canadian waters is great at doling out information too... He's an old timer, so its fun to hear him give out no - BS information...

Rockwood guys literally help you load/unload your canoe and push you off on your adventure, and Andy & Ada's internet presence on FB & Insta is top-notch! I really hope to meet them IRL someday.
 
carmike
distinguished member(1740)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/03/2020 12:12AM
Nice to see the VNO crew checking in. Love working with you guys, and thanks to John for the hot lake trout lure on Tuscarora this year. :)

 
VoyageurNorth
distinguished member(2612)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
10/03/2020 12:16AM
Thanks Carmike!

Any pictures of the successful lake trout fishing? Was it a Mann's lure?
 
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