By Cody Willoughby
TROY — Local boating and fishing enthusiasts got to meet the staff of SmithFly at their “Big Beers & Small Boats” swap meet event on Saturday.
It was held at SmithFly’s property on East Water Street in Troy, and ran from 4-11p.m.
Multiple vendors attended the event, including food trucks and local brewers out of Huber Heights and Dayton. Live music and shelter were also provided.
The goal of the event was to raise money for a feasibility study for a river access point on the Great Miami River on Water Street, an objective that SmithFly has teamed with Troy Community Works to see through.
Ethan Smith, founder and owner of SmithFly, recently recieved widespread acclaim for his invention of the Shoal Tent, a craft that allows its users to camp on the water. The Shoal Tent was on display during the swap meet.
“It’s an inflatable built on a raft,” Smith said. “We had a ground base for it originally. A friend who owns a business south of here came in and requested that I make him a couple that he could put on the river. We got that request in March or April, and then worked through designing parts of the tent before getting it finalized in the summer. There was a while where it was actually lost in freight, and recovery took so long, we thought we were going to have to make another one. It showed back up from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania about a month ago, and went viral from there.”
The shoal tent has since received over 20 million hits on Facebook, mentions on national news shows, and endless manufacturing requests from all over the world. Since then, Smith and his staff have seen great changes organically spread through the local business.
“I was basically just a niche fly-fishing business to start, but we’ve now opened wider into general camping and outdoors,” said Smith. “We’re making a ton of the shoal tents now. We’ve gotten requests from Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and areas of South America. Australia’s been the biggest one for us, and we’re working with our manufacturing facility in China to ship shoal tents in directly to Australia.”
As Smith’s business grows, his plans for the future remain speculative but optimistic.
“I’d love to eventually relocate all manufacturing and R&D here to Troy,” Smith said. “The sudden uptick in interest has changed a lot very quickly, so we’re taking the business a step at a time. Holding the swap meet is just a means for people in the community to come see what we’re about, and network with others who share the same interests. Hopefully we can do it again next year.”
All proceeds from the swap meet event benefitted Troy Community Works.
For more information, visit smithfly.net.