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Vail Valley fishing shop honored by Orvis

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
Kristin Anderson/kanderson@vaildaily.comAmy, left, and Bob Streb hit the river outside their shop, Fly Fishing Outfitters in Avon. The shop was recently honored by The Orvis Company as its 2007 outfitter of the year.
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AVON ” Amy and Bob Streb went to Bozeman, Montana looking for a plaque. They came back with a big catch.

The Strebs, owners of Fly Fishing Outfitters in Avon, traveled north a couple of weeks ago for The Orvis Company’s annual convention and award ceremony for the outfitters, guides and lodges it endorses. The local couple walked away with the award for Outfitter of the Year for 2007.

“We were very proud, humbled and honored by the award,” Bob Streb said.

To earn the award, the people at Orvis took a close look at the evaluation forms given or e-mailed to all clients of Orvis-endorsed shops. They also look at how the shop operates and how much it participates in local and national charities.

Fly Fishing Outfitters scored well across the board, a tribute, the Strebs said, to the people who work in the shop.

“It took the whole crew to earn this,” he said.

And, while Fly Fishing Outfitters has been guiding in the valley for years, the Strebs bought the place from former owner Bill Perry just two years ago. The Strebs made changes, but were determined to keep the association with Orvis.

Not just any shop can get an endorsement from Orvis. Guides, shops and lodges must meet the company’s standards, and the evaluation forms are the big company’s way of ensuring its standards are met.

Getting the endorsement means getting new customers every year, Bob Streb said.

“A huge percentage of our clients come in because of the Orvis name,” he said. “And some people will come here just based on our award.”

The Strebs also like the fact that despite its size, Orvis remains a family-owned business that seems to value the relationships it has with the companies it endorses.

“We’ve sat down with the vice presidents and had a beer with the CEO,” Amy Streb said. “It’s unique having the backing of a huge company, but one that pays attention to the details in the small places.”

A lot of the details have changed at Fly Fishing Outfitters. The Strebs wanted to put their own mark on the business, but everyone in the shop is quick to credit Perry for the foundation he laid. The bricks of that foundation include the guides and Perry’s philosophies of respecting the rivers, emphasizing safety and encouraging teaching.

The Avon shop these days is a lot like a friend’s cabin. There’s always a pot of coffee on, and, often as not, Amy’s mom will have baked something.

“We encourage loitering,” Bob Streb said. “And we still like to cater to locals. You can come in and buy flies for $1 or tie your own.”

The friendly feeling is genuine. Amy Streb said people at the shop socialize with each other on their own time. And, naturally, most of the conversation centers on fishing.

“That family environment is felt by the employees,” said guide Kevin Wildgen. “That’s what put us over the top (for the Orvis award).”

The lodge feeling makes the shop a place an angler can come in the depths of winter. And it’s possible to get a guided trip even when there are mountains of snow.

“You can fish any day of the year,” guide Brody Henderson said. “In the winter we’d probably take someone to tailwaters on the Eagle or the Yampa.”

And someone stopping by for coffee and a few tips is likely to get some good ones.

“Everyone who works in this shop guides, so we can give people good information,” Henderson said. “We all love to fish.”

Sometimes, the lure of the river can make it hard to find someone to actually stay in the shop. That job falls to new mom Amy Streb most often these days.

“But I get out when I can too,” she said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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