Worthington News

Shops at Worthington Place

Orvis hopes to reel in local fly-fishermen

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Since Orvis opened its doors last week at the Shops at Worthington Place, Neil Neidhardt has heard two surprising comments repeatedly.

First, some people have never heard of Orvis.

Second, some of them didn't realize they could fly-fish in Worthington.

Neidhardt is the fishing manager at the new store, which sports a gleaming storefront with soaring ceilings at the east entry to the recently renovated mall.

Orvis, as many fishing enthusiasts might already know, is the leading retailer of all things fly-fishing. The store sells rods and reels, flies and waders -- basically, all things related to the sport.

Founded in 1856 by Charles Orvis in Manchester, Vt., the chain has 68 stores nationwide plus the oldest continuous catalog department in the country. Headquarters remain in Manchester.

The Worthington store is the first in central Ohio, but many who enter have been shopping at Orvis for years, either in their travels or by catalog. Neidhardt, a dedicated fly-fisherman, has shopped there for years and is thrilled with his new position.

The sport is taken seriously, and lessons and advice are plentiful, he said. Eventually, the store will offer classes and trips.

For now, fishermen (and women) will find an expert ready to help. When Neidhardt is not on the premises, another fly-fisherman is.

And yes, fly-fishing is in Worthington. One could walk out the door of Orvis, turn right, travel about two blocks, park and wade into the Olentangy River to fly-fish.

Neidhardt has fished in the Olentangy and the Scioto, as well as in a creek on his property in Ostrander.

"It is a secret creek that will remain unnamed because of the quality of the fish," he said.

Elsewhere in Ohio, the Mohican, Mad River and Clear Creek are popular fly-fishing spots, with plenty of trout. In rivers that run from Lake Erie in northern Ohio, steelheads, a type of rainbow trout, are plentiful.

Lots of fly-fishermen travel to their favorite rivers and streams, and Orvis carries all of the travel equipment and baggage. The store also carries clothing for men and women.

The clothes are classic, British-inspired styles made of natural fibers.

A dog department also carries gear and gifts for man's best friend, who is welcome in the store.

In fact, the store carries a wide range of gifts, home items and accessories for what Neidhardt calls "distinctive country living."

From the reaction he has heard from customers thus far, he believes Orvis quickly will become part of Worthington living, as well, he said.

Shoppers at the Saturday farmers market streamed into the store during its grand-opening weekend Nov. 10. The same people who shop at farmers markets tend to enjoy the ambiance, the merchandise and the reputation for conservation for which Orvis is known.

"These are our people," Neidhardt said.

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