How to Lose a Customer to a Big Box Store in 10 Minutes

Sam Root had been to the tackle shop before. He used to go there for shrimp, for lures and to have line spooled. He used to.

That changed this week in the span of a few minutes with a simple phone call, and it’s a lesson every  tackle shop employee should take to heart. 

We’ve mentioned Sam before at He’s one of the best photographers in the business, and he regularly travels the country in search of photos and media for his website, Salty Shores. From time to time, Sam—like many in the industry’s media circle—is privy to new products before they hit store shelves.

Earlier this week, he received a shipment of new, Mustad braid. Like any rabid angler, he was eager to test it out. But before you can test a line in the water, you have to get it on the reel. And that, as every angler knows, is a chore. It’s also a chore that most tackle shops can eliminate by spooling it onto the reel for you.

That’s when Sam Root called a local (undisclosed) tackle shop—it’s also where the problems began. And because we are in the digital age, those problems quickly spread online.


Of course, there are a number of reasons a tackle store may not have been able to spool this customer’s particular reel. Maybe the employee didn’t know how to use the spooling machine; maybe the machine really was incompatible with Root’s setup. (Though he says they didn’t bother to ask.) Maybe this particular shop was a hardcore DIY advocate.

In any case, the end result is this:

“He had no idea what line or spool I had, nor did he ask,” said Root. “He just did not feel like doing it, even when I offered to pay…. He said your line and spool won’t work on our machine, without even asking what spool I had.”

That’s one upset customer—one that quickly went to the next-closest line spooling machine at a big box retail store.

“I went to Dick’s and told them the same thing, and they said ‘no problem.’ They even had a bar code ready to scan for it. I went to the counter, paid my $10, went to the car to get the reels and the line and was done in 10-15 minutes.”

For Dick’s, the end result was a lot of PR pop on social media: over 100 “likes” on Root’s Facebook page and a bevy of comments. For the local tackle shop, the inverse was true. It all goes to show you—in this day and age, when information spreads like wildfire, communication with your customers is more important than ever.

Remember: Even when you can’t meet someone’s needs, communication is an important part of customer service. At least then you might still sell them some more shrimp and lures.