Friday, January 18, 2013

Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods...2012 Year in Review...The Best Laid Plans of Bamboo and Fly Rods

oyster bamboo fly rods in blue ridge georgia

"If it were easy...everyone would do this."

Those are the words that Bill whispered in my ear almost daily in the beginning of 2012.  As the year wore on, Bill's whisper grew into a dull roar and those words' final resting place became my mantra.  At the end of 2011, we had a plan for 2012. 
What's the good deed, "the best laid plans"?!?

Here are a few highlights:

bamboo fly rod making classes
New building coming along slowly but surely in January, more bamboo fly rod making classes and
(of course... many  more bamboo fly rods).  

Blue Ridge Fly Fishing
We bought the local Unicoi Outfitters and aptly changed the name to Blue Ridge Fly Fishing!

 How did you end up owning the local fly shop in Blue Ridge? the end of 2011,  our good friend, Jimmy Harris of Unicoi Outfitters, asked us if we wanted to buy the local fly shop in town.  It was the worst  best timing possible.  This was certainly NOT in the plan.   However, our new building literally shared a wall with the fly shop and Bill is authentically passionate about our local fly fishing scene. So, the old exterior brick wall is now Oyster's super cool interior wall and the new/old wall of Blue Ridge Fly Fishing (referred to as BRFF).  After closing with Jimmy, my father, Bruce Diaddigo, whom many of you know and love...bought half of  BRFF and now is officially a fly fishing bum along with the best of us. 

Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods in London Financial Times
As January came to a close, The London Financial Times
 was kind enough to do a
 feature on Oyster Bamboo...

Here's the conversation that occurred with some regularity in 2012:

(phone ringing)

Me: Hello
Landlord:  Hi Shannen, are you moving into your new building as planned this month?  I have contractors lined up to start the renovation on your current space.
Me:  Well, I know we told you that the building was going to be complete in January, but it does not appear to be happening.  Can we please stay a bit longer?  We are trying to get things to go as planned.  I'm sure it will only be another month or so...

Rinse and repeat for months and months...that is my last mention of it.   February was the month that reality set in...we own a new fly shop and our building is not going as planned.


We did.

Oyster pulled together it's talent and ran Blue Ridge Fly Fishing.  The fly shop began to flourish with an on site owner and a new caring and  passionate staff.
Big Fish with Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods

Meanwhile, we frequented the new building site next door to the fly shop while spending late nights in the shop making several Oyster Epic Series Rods due by month end.

Cutter in my future office on Main Street, Blue Ridge GA
My future office.

We had two bamboo fly rod classes officially graduate in February 2012.  As usual, our bamboo fly rod making students represented all over the country (from Vermont to Texas to New Jersey to Montana and back to Blue Ridge again) and fun was had by all...

Oyster Bamboo Fly Rod Making Classes January 2012
Oyster unleashes 12 more bamboo fly rod makers upon the world this month!
Oyster in Private Journey Magazine
We were also in Private Journey Magazine. This magazine may be one of the finest magazines in the world.  We were honored to be included in their Winter 2012 Edition.

On February 29, our beloved Yogi passed.  Even today, my heart still aches.  He was my best friend.  If all dogs go to heaven, Yogi is the gatekeeper.
Yogi the Bear

a·dapt     [ ə dápt ]     adapt


verb: change to meet requirements: to change something to suit different conditions or a different purpose, or be changed in this way - adjust to something: to become, or make somebody or something become, used to a new environment or different conditions

Ahhh...March 2012 will go down in Oyster history as the month Bill had his absolute most aggravating student...ever!!!  So, while the chaos of life, kids, business at large and the building hummed away in the background, I built an 8' 9 weight rod (see November Apalachicola Redfish trip for proof of my bamboo fly rod making prowess). 

Sand, Drink, Plane

Best part of, and my Aunt Terry from Seattle!!!

Clark's custom rod and another March class...James (pictured in the middle of class came for his
second class and made saltwater rod with my taper!) 

March also brought family hikes, more Bamboo Fly Rods to be made and another class full of civilians (non Oyster family members).  

Oh!  And I almost forgot that we became official Beretta dealers this month. 
Obtaining our FFL license was as difficult as giving birth  part of the plan! 

 April  is time for strawberries in Blue Ridge ...Mercier Orchards...

We had two more full classes in April.  In our late April class, one of our favorite students (and subsequently good friend),  Dr. Alex,  came back for his 7th? class! Every year, he makes his pilgrimage to us for his annual rod building class.  Dr. Alex calls the bamboo fly rod making class, "an outward bound experience where you end up with the bonus of a rod at the end".

Meanwhile, the building chugged along and we managed to resume our regular sporting clay schedule because the weather warmed up and the "pull" (excuse the pun) of the beautiful outdoors and my beloved shotgun. 

Fish, Class, Building

As usual, the workshop was busy busy busy with fly rod building, visitors, local energy, fish talk and planning the future.

Happy Anniversary!  Bang!  Bang!
oyster bamboo fly rod's and main street blue ridge georgiaPersonally, we celebrated our18th wedding anniversary.  When asked what I wanted to do for our big answer was easy...sporting clays.  The children continue to be raised on Main Street and thrive in the face of change and long little family...always together.

And then...there's the fish.  Eventually, it all comes back around to the fish, right?

Oyster bamboo fly rods' super clients and super bamboo fly rods!
fish, fish, fish

To the best of my memory...this is how Bill ended up riding his
motorcycle to the southernmost tip of Mexico in May:
Nowhere Mexico...ask Bill about this...not me...I will pretend that I do not hear you.

Bill:  Babe (that's me), you know Wes and I are leaving for our Mexico trip in a few weeks, right?
Me:  What trip to Mexico?
Bill:  No time for denial, babe.  We have been planning this for five months.
Me:  What trip?

Note to will have to ask Bill or read his rider report here for more on this so-called Mexico trip.  The denial continues in my world.

Class, Building, Rods

One more significant thing happened in May. And this was not part of the plan...we set a drop dead date in June to be out of the old shop regardless of our building's progress.  While June 18 was our unofficial move-in date...our move out date was official.

Off we go. 


Bamboo loaded up!

In June, we bid  a final goodbye to the old shop.  It was harder than expected.  That dumpy little place grew on me over the years and it held more sentimentality than expected.  With that said...we called the movers and planned the move between our two June bamboo fly rod making class dates.

Now, the building being ready is an entirely different story (as promised, I will not address this directly).   We had our final bamboo fly rod making class in the old shop in the beginning of June  and had a few days before the next class started.  So, we planned the move for one day from start to finish to have things in order for the next class.

Yep...that was the plan...

...until the movers did not show up.  


We moved ourselves...the entire shop (16 years worth of accumulation).  We piled everything into Riley's drift boat (over and over) and walked what would not fit down the street.  We even managed to toast our experience with some champagne given to us from our friend, Sarah Auman, of Out of the Blue in town.  I should do my own "ode to Main Street" at some point.  This community we have is so supportive of us personally and professionally...especially with the children (think "it takes a village").

The workshop itself was the one area that was functional (part of our modified plan).  So, we moved in literally on top of the builders and went about business as usual.  

We were featured in Virginia Sportsman and Bill taught bamboo fly rod making to the usual suspects - 12 of them this month!

Quinn and Roni say BYE to old shop

July...time to pass out from exhaustion pull together the rest of the shop and become official retailers and Inn keepers!  Oh...and what's this about a grand opening in October?

Cutter takes up mining, Oyster's fish survives the move and some more fishing from SUP

We did spend a few splendid days at the ocean...nice.  Bill even fished a little.

Sand, SUP, Fish and Doughnuts!  An Oyster beach trip!

A new tenant arrived this month as well.  A fellow artist rents our lower level.  She's Blue Ridge's beloved Lynn Kemp of Gawdy Bobbles.  She transformed her space into 2000 square feet of fabulous (and I don't take that word's overused as it is but there is no other way to describe this)FABULOUS!!!  Check it out! I am actually wearing some Gawdy Bobbles in the picture below...

Long July days gave us plenty of time to fish and shoot. 

We take a break from classes in July but not bamboo fly rods, fishing and shooting!

Because the retail area of the new building was not complete, we papered the windows and took some inadvertent down time from the public.  Actually, I recommend this break for all retailers every 5 years. At first, not being so exposed was refreshing.  We were on our absolute worst behavior for over 2 months!

However, after a few weeks behind papered windows and locked doors...I started to have separation anxiety with...well, everyone.  We had grown to love our daily interaction with people and without any exposure, our daily rhythm was thrown off. 

Paper up, Doors locked but Bamboo stacked and Shop in full swing

In August, Bill made the trip to the Georgia State Capital to present Speaker of the House, David Ralston,  with one of our hand crafted bamboo fly rods.  We were commissioned almost a year prior to make this rod for the Speaker for a variety of reasons.   First,  Speaker Ralston is from Blue Ridge, second he is a fly fisherman and third...well...Bill is the always the obvious choice for crafting this type of "legacy item".  

Meanwhile, I continued to design the Cast and Blast Inn for our top floor, firm up our brands for the new retail area and make arrangements for October's Grand Opening. 

Larry and his first fish caught on the rod he made in the class and Derek (our awesome to Fly Shop manager at Blue Ridge Fly Fishing at NCF)

While the Oyster clan was going at full tilt, we tried to keep some stability in our schedule for Cutter and Roni.  It's simply amazing how well these children adapt.  We all look forward to tomorrow.

Classes, Bamboo Fly Rods, Oyster Shop Time

"Is it really September?!?"   I don't now about you but at this was clear that 2012 was succumbing to time in an almost exaggerated manner.  The blur of the past year was behind us but the real work lay ahead. Here we go...

Take down paper on windows and ready retail area, Hang on Main Street, Shoot with our friends Kelli and Don 

Classes, Classes, Classes...

My favorite sporting clay station, Us, Fish

Construction and design was completed on the Cast and Blast Inn in September.  Let me exceeded our expectations is every way possible.  One of our September classes christened the Inn with guests from all of the U.S.  Good stuff...the class had so much fun together after hours that they never even turned on the common area television.

They said all talk, cigars, books, fish, shotguns and bamboo fly rod making...

October was big for us on many levels...drum roll please...

The House that Bamboo Fly Rods Built

We closed on our new building in October 2012.  Grand opening anyone?  Well, yes...
The grand opening was always planned for October...even when the plan was to close in January.
I thought that would give us months and months to pull it all together and shine for our big debut. 


My 9 months of planning was reduced to one (or 22 days to be exact). 


How did it go?

9 months or 22 days...our grand opening was remarkable.  It was insane!  We had four events over a three day period and I knew at the very least it would be fun. But, here's one emotion that I did not expect...

I was humbled.  Completely humbled by the outpouring of support from our family, friends, neighbors on Main Street, the community at large and (of course) our clients (who really...most of the time end up our friends).
NEVER EVER (yes, I am screaming) did I expect the response from our supporters during these special days for Oyster. Clients drove and flew in from all over the country to help us honor our little building (and fish and shoot)!

Honestly, I was so overwhelmed busy with the event at large that I completely forgot to take many pictures. We had hundreds and friends and clients help us break in the new digs that weekend and the one regret I do have concerning the whole "no time to plan" festivity thing is the lack of proper documentation.  Above are a few photos of our fishing, shooting and hanging out time but the star of the show was the food that our dear friends at Harvest on Main catered and the people (loads of people) that showed up to help us celebrate.

Thank you.

Last Call

Even with the grand opening chaos, we managed to have a class and get rods out to custom order clients and have a full rack of for sale rods (that incidentally all sold out during the grand opening). 

Crazy.   Humbled.  Thank you.

As usual, downtown Blue Ridge was host to thousands of Halloween goers on the 31st.  It's an impressive scene.  Because we have very few traditional "neighborhoods" in the mountains (and the walk from house to house would be quite daunting considering most have acreage) children from North Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina descend upon Blue Ridge's Main Street once a year while the merchants give candy out as fast as their arm is able to move.


A few days after Halloween, some of my favorite honorary Oysters rolled into town from Arizona for another bamboo fly rod making class. A "varied" group to say the least but their love of bamboo fly rods and the craft in general leaves me warm and fuzzy when they arrive and sad (with a touch of separation anxiety) when they return home.  Really...I think I like them all so much because Dan (my favorite of the bunch) reminds me of my Dad.  Also, I should give a shout out to Barry (student number 6 in this class) for putting up with our Arizona crowd!  :)

Time for a small, we loaded up the Jeep and went on our annual pilgrimage to Apalachicola for some red fishing with the Robinson Brothers. 

November added yet another dimension to Oyster...retail...retail...retail...oh my! Love it!!!  I think we did this whole retail thing so I can buy thousands of dollars worth of BOOTS!!!

Our retail in full swing!

Various ways to use the chair in our showroom.
Yes...we even celebrated Thanksgiving in the workshop.  Awesome or mildly pathetic? You decide!

And, of month would be complete here at Oyster Bamboo without a lot of custom rods going out the door finding way to their rightful owners.

Hunter (aptly named) test casting new bamboo rod on the tracks behind the shop.

Tis the season
Bang!  Bang!

Cutter Butter, Flying Fish & our biggest kid...Riley
Window in showroom to shop that shows Bill's engraving in real time (see TV in right hand corner)

So...while 2012's original plan zigged and zagged and we were met with surprises all year, we ultimately pushed and pushed until our goals were met...'s almost as though our plan worked after all...

Bye 2012.