February 22, 2010
Merwin: A Brighter Future for a Few Less Orvis Sales
By John Merwin
This is an unabashed plug for the Orvis flyfishing catalog. And no, I am not on the Orvis payroll and I have no involvement with their advertising. What’s important here is the catalog space that Orvis devotes to conservation causes instead of product sales, which is very unusual.
Amid all the rods, reels, flies, waders, and clothing are a couple of pages devoted to potential solutions for environmental problems on Yellow Breeches Creek in Pennsylvania and in California’s Sacramento River drainage. Customer contributions are encouraged, which Orvis will match, with the goal of raising $120,000 total. Orvis also notes that every year the company contributes 5 percent of its pre-tax profit to conservation causes.
For curiosity’s sake, I checked the spring catalogs from Bass Pro and Cabela’s to see if there was anything similar. There is not. Now that’s not necessarily a knock on either company. I know that both Bass Pro and Cabela’s contribute mightily to various national conservation groups. And Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris was recently given a lifetime achievement award in conservation from the widely respected Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
But catalog pages are a unique case. For the most part, every square inch of every page is designed to sell product. Using catalog space for something other than direct sales means foregoing those sales for the sake of something else. In the Orvis case, that’s conservation. That the company does this is no small matter.
So here’s a tip of the hat to Orvis for doing the right thing.