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Interview with Tony Gehman, owner, TCO Fly Shop.
TCO has three fly shops in Pennsylvania. Can you describe the differences between the shops? All three of the TCO Fly Shop locations are very different. The store in Reading was the first store we opened in 1990. This store is the largest and is our home base for inventory, web and daily operations. The Reading store is located right near the Tulpehocken Creek; our name sake and an amazing tailwater fishery. The Bryn Mawr store is located on Philadelphia’s Main Line, an area known for high end shopping and other activities. The Bryn Mawr store caters to local fisherman as well as outfitting travelers to fish at exotic locations all over the world. Lastly, our State College store is in the heart of trout country. With over 10 amazing wild streams at our door step, this is a fly fishers dream come true! The State College location is truly a destination location that approaches western quality fishing.
One of the fun things on your website is the page that shows the Grateful Dead playing at the Playboy Mansion (see here). Are you the Deadhead in the group? Had any offers for the custom Abel Reel you display? Yes, I am the only one in our company that enjoys good music! I have to credit my older brother for turning me onto most of the music I listen to... and my parents for letting me see my first Dead show at age 15. Surprisingly, they also let me take the car when I turned 16 to see some killer shows in Washington DC and Philly. I have had many offers for that reel but it is part of me and I just can’t sell it. Stay tuned to our website however for some exciting news on that topic... hint hint…
Pennsylvanians are notoriously passionate fly anglers. What do account for this? PA was the birth place for fly fishing in the US. Most of the traditional dry flies that we now fish were derived from staples tied by PA natives such as Charlie Fox, Vince Marinaro, Charlie Meck, George Harvey and Joe Humphries just to name a few. Most people don’t realize it, but PA has more fishable water than most states in the U.S.
On Sundays in the winter, are your customers more likely to talk about Eagles football or a midge hatch? It depends what store you would be in... If you were in our State College store, you would hear all about the Steelers... and how they won 6 super bowls. Our Bryn Mawr store would most likely be customers complaining about Mike Vick... or the Eagles coaching. But in Reading... they would be talking about midges for sure!
Besides the vast waters of the east coast, where are your customers travelling to fish? We have a lot of traveling fly fishers that frequent the shops. Destinations include the Bahamas, Belize, Venezuela, Alaska and Argentina. We are within a short trip to the Bahamas and Central America so many of our clients frequent these places. All of the stores stock equipment for these locales so we are always ready to assist in trip preparation.
What’s the most requested Simms item at TCO? It would have to be the Simms G3 Guide Wader. The entire staff wears these and it just seems to fit the bill for most of our customers. Its hard to beat the quality and durability of the G3 Wader.
TCO Fly Shop
2229 Penn Ave
West Lawn, PA 19609