Fascinator fad cleans out fishing shops

A fashion for fascinators has produced a continental shortage of feathers, creating problems for the traditional customers of fishing shops.

Fly tiers finding competition for feathers

Freda Terpstra is considering turning her hobby into small business. (CBC)

A fashion for fascinators has produced a continental shortage of feathers, creating problems for the traditional customers of fishing shops.

Freda Terpstra of Charlottetown has a long interest in making hats and fascinators, an interest that has picked up recently as high-profile royal events have brought the head gear back into style.  Typically Terpstra goes to a hobby shop or orders online for her supplies, but recently she found an even better source for feathers.

"I went to the fishing store and walked to the back and there was a wall full of feathers and I thought, ah, bingo!" she said.

Fishing stores carry feathers for tying flies, and she said they have better quality and more variety of feathers than craft stores.

Fishermen use the feathers to tie flies. (CBC)

Terpstra is not alone in turning to angling supply stores to feed her hobby. Demand for feathers is up across North America, and fishing shops are feeling the pressure. Some feathers are fetching five times the price they were just a few months ago.

Herman Boshuis owns the only dedicated fishing store on P.E.I., and he's seeing a lot more women walk through the door in the last few months.

"The supply was always mostly for tying and now that it's being used for crafts and hair," said Boshuis.

"They're using them up, and the growers can't keep up with the demand."

Herman Boshuis is having a hard time keeping feathers in his fishing shop. (CBC)

Boshuis is having trouble getting any feathers from his suppliers.

"The birds aren't mature enough to harvest yet, and there's no inventory anywhere," he said.

Supply is so tight Boshuis is getting enquiries from American buyers who are willing to pay top dollar for the supplies he does have left.

It's not just demand for raw materials. Terpstra's finished products are also attracting attention, and she's considering turning her hobby into a small business.