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Local Fly Shop Gets New Owners

James Mugele wished he owned his own fly shop. Dean Reiner, longtime owner of Hatch Finders Fly Shop, rose to the occasion.

“I said I wished I had a fly shop and Dean said ‘this one is for sale,’” said Mugele. “Within three weeks of my conversation with Dean, I called Evan Keen, my business partner, and said ‘I think we are going to buy a fly shop.’”

From left, James Mugele, Dean Reiner, and Evan Keene stand in front of the Hatch Finders Fly Shop

Reiner ran Hatch Finders, a hole-in-the-wall fly-fishing shop on U.S. Highway 89, for 28 years. But he said he decided it was time to pick up his fly-tying vices, sell his business to the next generation, and retire.

However, Reiner hasn’t fully stepped away yet. After officially selling his business on April 1 to Mugele, who is 30, and Keen, 28, Reiner still ties flies in his old shop Monday-Friday for a few hours each week.

“We are trying to wean Dean off the fly shop,” said Mugele in a kidding tone, which conveyed both fishing guide-turned-entrepreneurs love having Reiner around. “I enjoy hanging around,” said Reiner, 77, before resuming an intricate project at his fly vice, artfully manipulating bits of string, fur, feather, and a hook into an artificial fly, worthy of fooling the wiliest trout.

Reiner explained when his daughter and business partner, Dandy Reiner, took inventory before selling their fly shop, the father-daughter duo estimated they had hand-tied roughly 18,000 flies in inventory over the years.

“Every fly in the shop is tied in the shop,” confirmed Mugele, who explained such labor-intensive business models are uncommon. “We are going to keep it small and maintain the shop as a hand-tying shop, but we are also going to lean into outfitting, casting and fishing lessons.”

Mugele said the two new entrepreneurs plan to add updated hand-tied fly patterns to their shop’s stock.

“The vibe of the place is going to stay the same,” said Keen. Mugele and Keen, with more than a decade of guiding experience between them, understand the expansion requirements for taking their newly-owned shop into outfitting and their operation to the next level. “I see some of them in myself,” said Reiner, who remarked the local fishing community is going through a resurgence in younger entrepreneurial spirit and interest.

For a sport often stereotyped as a hobby for the middle-aged or older person, the local landscape is going through generational changes. Both Mugele and Keen referenced Gardner Imhoff, the new president of Park County’s Joe Brooks Trout Unlimited chapter, who is 29, and Nick Solley, the new younger owner of Anglers West Fly Fishing Outfitters.

Reiner said he was 55 when he first opened Hatch Finders. “I don’t know how he did it,” said Mugele, referencing the amount of energy required to run a small business.

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