It was about 13 years ago that Dr. Ferguson took a holiday and traveled to Bozeman, Montana. There he visited his brother Jeff, and embarked on his first ever fly fishing excursion. Immediately, Dr. Ferguson was consumed by the beauty and art of the sport. He quickly discovered there was much more to his new experience than simply catching trout. It was the combination of sport, the flying fishing culture he encountered and the wonderment of the land that captivated his attention. This recipe of fishing at the purist sense combined meeting new folks who had a unique passion for life captured his soul. Montana fly fishing has become an experience he has wanted to protect as his own and not tell the world, at least, not until now. So, how does the naming an optical store come into this tale? Read on and you might come to understand.
Perhaps it was the bald eagles flying overhead, acting as supervisors for the glacier carved environment and watching the every move of the fisherman. Perhaps it was the noon lunches along the river, borrowing a spot under a tree from Mother Nature, and watching the cattle grazing in the nearby pasture; the picturesque scene of horses who drank from the river and stood proudly as if to say, “This is our land and what on earth are you doing here?” Each river Dr. Ferguson fished on his original journey seemed to tell a story about its own unique environment and the wildlife that called it home. As he explored the valleys, rivers and mountains around Bozeman he understood why Montana is called the “Big Sky Country.” On his initial trip to Bozeman he fished several local rivers, which included the Madison, Gallatin and Yellowstone. Some of these locations have become staples of his annual trip to Montana. Like the next bend of a river, our tale continues about how our optical shop in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, found its name.
For Dr. Ferguson, the annual ritual of traveling to Montana to see old sites and familiar faces, is also the opportunity to get a rebirth of what life really means… it’s breathing crisp, clean air, watching clouds move in quickly to put a cleansing shower upon the land. And, of course, the after fishing experiences, telling small lies about the size of the trout caught that day or the ones hooked that simply decided it was not worthy of their appearance, so they quietly removed themselves from the fly and swam back into the depths of the river. Perhaps Dr. Ferguson named his optical store, “The River’s Edge Optical” because of little fly shop he visited on this first visit and combined with the mystique of trout and rivers, mountains and bald eagles, dogs and their masters and a touch of life as it should be.
Dr. Ferguson went to Bozeman, Montana on his initial trip and was told by brother Jeff, “ I have a great little shop we have to go to and get you fixed up with a license, flies and gear.” And so our tale of naming an optical shop really begins. It was at this point of his adventure that the River’s Edge Fly Shop left a lifelong impression about fly fishing, life in Montana and how to operate a business with personality, passion and service. What he encountered at The River’s Edge was a very unique store and retail setting that has influenced the management and vision of his optical store for over a decade. This fly fishing shop was truly different. It looked like a barn on the exterior but inside provided all kinds of different equipment, clothing and a great staff to help him learn about fly fishing. The architecture and design of the fly fishing shop inside could be best envisioned like something similar to a cabin found in the mountains of Montana. Wood floors, open space, western art and smiles everywhere. When Dr. Ferguson initially walked in, his first encounter was with a black Labrador, quietly lying on the floor. The beautiful dog barely raised an eyebrow as if to determine the worthiness of this fly fishing novice. Almost sighing at the questions his master would be once again asked from another “wannabe fisherman.” The River’s Edge Fly Shop instantly made Dr. Ferguson feel welcome. The way he was greeted, the décor and the desire to be helped from an attentive staff left a lasting impression. The questions poured out; How are you and where you from? Oh, you are Jeff’s brother? The laughter that ensued by the comment “Fish on!” (brother Jeff was considered an excellent customer and now he brought a new client needing products and services!) So how can we help? Positive energy, excitement about fishing, energy about a new day filled with opportunity, and Montana hospitality at its finest set the stage to explore the great selection of items to purchase. Before he made a single purchase, Dr. Ferguson knew this was his fly fishing shop and there would be no need to go anywhere else. Complete trust in the store and staff happened within minutes. He knew he would be given sound advice and options to serve his needs. Plus, it was just plain fun to be there! Every year he journeys to Bozeman, he makes a stop at “The River’s Edge Fly Shop” and purchases something while he is there. He goes back for the experience as much as the selection, which is always outstanding. Birthday and Christmas gifts have often been acquired from the store.
In December, 2002, it came time to name the optical store that would be part of his newly formed Dunes Eye Consultants practice and meet the philosophy of what he wanted to accomplish for his clinic patients and customers. As he thought about the appropriate name, Dr. Ferguson kept thinking about the River’s Edge Fly Shop. He wanted an optical shop that created the experience for his patients like he had at “The River’s Edge.” He kept thinking about how it was a store that provided something for everybody. There was quality, name brand gear and competent, friendly staff with expertise and knowledge of the products. It was the atmosphere of the shop and comfort of knowing the right solution for your budget and specific needs would be met. It was the experience that left him feeling he had gotten more than what he had just paid for. It was the continued thoughts about wanting to go back to that place again. The basic principles and vision for his future optical were captured and embodied by this little fly-fishing shop in Bozeman, Montana. One day, in December 2002, as he looked out at the Missouri River flowing by his practice location in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, he started thinking about fly-fishing in Montana and “The River’s Edge. An epiphany happened; he thought, “Why not The River’s Edge Optical?” It made perfect sense.
As Dr. Ferguson guided his opticians and began to create the philosophy of the River’s Edge Optical he wanted it to be similar to the River’s Edge Fly Shop. As its core principle; provide name brand products, a world-class atmosphere with an experienced, friendly and knowledgeable staff of opticians and optical assistants. The daily goal is always the same “exceed expectation and earn trust in those we serve.” And so, the tale of naming the “The River’s Edge Optical” has been told.
Now each summer Dr. Ferguson travels to Bozeman to resume several days of fly fishing on the beautiful rivers of the greater Bozeman area. He also makes sure to visit The Rivers Edge in Bozeman. He has expanded his trips to other rivers including the Beaverhead in Dillon, Montana and the Missouri headwaters in Craig, Montana. The Duypres Spring Creeks in Paradise Valley was a new adventure this past year along with crane fly fishing at 6:30 am. Each new experience adds a different touch to the familiarity of fly fishing in Montana. The beauty of the land, the grace of the sport and the post-fishing stories remain a beacon of consistency, like visiting the River’s Edge in Bozeman, Montana.
Dr. Steve Ferguson writes:
“Floating down the rivers in Montana, fishing for that elusive trout and looking up at the beautiful mountains and scenery, coupled with an occasional bald eagle flying by, puts life in perspective. The people I have met fly fishing are people who understand the purity of life. The art and joy of fishing for trout is combined with the unique sensitivities and unpredictability of nature that one encounters. The constant challenge trying to figure out the perfect fly in order to catch a trout on a particular day puts you a different mind set. You have to evaluate the weather, the clarity of water, the hatch, etc. to present the trout something as close as possible to nature so they will attack the fly. It forces you to get back to the basics of life and existence. Nothing I have encountered in life is like fly fishing. And when you throw in the back drop of Mountains, incredible valleys, a big sky and the openness of the country, then catching a fish is just a bonus. But, it is also the comradery that one experiences following a day on the river when I stop at the Livingston Chop House, or dine at the Gallatin River Lodge or even a favorite watering hole in Bozeman and discuss the events of the day. Many a day has gone by when no trout were acquired, yet it was a fantastic fishing day.
Spending time in Bozeman, spending time on the rivers and also visiting The River’s Edge Optical, always clears my mind about the direction we want for our optical business and what we want to trying to accomplish. We want to enjoy every day whether we catch any big fish or not. We want to make sure the people we interact with have a great experience and realize we enjoy what we do. We want them to feel they are gaining in some manner by getting service and products from us that help them achieve a better quality of life. We will meet their vision correction and eyewear performance needs. The River’s Edge Optical is something that I want to continue to evolve and develop. Each time I go on my sojourn to the Montana area, I bring back something a little different that helps me think about advancing our optical business to meet the needs of the people we serve. “
Dr. Steven J. Ferguson, OD.