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Orvis Angling to Sell Luxurious Log Homes

By Annie Groer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 3, 2005; Page H01

Over the past 149 years, Orvis has accessorized the upscale sporting life with shotguns and fishing rods, lodge blankets and bug-repellent khakis. Now the Vermont-based company is extending its brand to luxury log homes, the better to shelter all that outdoor gear.

Each of the six home plans is named for a trout-rich American river, starting at $552,000 for a completely assembled Battenkill cabin and topping out at near $1.2 million for the expansive Rogue. The total package, to be shipped by truck, includes walls, floors, roofing material, interior and exterior beams, gables or dormers, doors, windows, hardware and blueprints. It does not include kitchen appliances, bathroom fixtures, lighting, landscaping, furniture, permits, fees or shipping.

The company, purveyor of an outdoorsy ethos exalting pristine rivers, soaring mountains, wild game and faithful dogs, has spent 18 months working with Rocky Mountain Log Homes in Montana and three architects to develop the models. They range from the simple -- 1,539 square feet including bunkroom, master bedroom and bath -- to a more commodious, two-story, 3,944 square feet containing four bedrooms, large living area and a bunkroom.

All are designed as second homes, though even the smallest cabin is "outdoor-oriented," with patios, decks or screened porches, said Jon Sellers, Rocky Mountain's project manager.

The feature in all models that officials from both companies seem most eager to brag about is a distinctly masculine "sportsman's room," where a guy "can store his guns and waders, tie his fishing flies, wash his dog and maybe smoke a cigar," said Sellers.

Orvis will be more restrained in the use of its logo than certain other paragons of rusticana. (Can you say "Ralph Lauren"?) Don't look for the word "Orvis" or interlocking O's burned into every other log or porch railing. Officials are still pondering where to place one or two "extremely subtle" identifiers to telegraph the Orvis lifestyle: Perhaps the company name on the hardware of the Siberian pine doors, or a brass plaque of crossed fishing rods on a beam, said Ryan Shadrin, Orvis's director of marketing communications.

The log homes were advertised in the 2.2 million copies of the "Orvis News" winter issue and will appear in the spring 2005 fly-fishing catalogue. Despite more than 100 inquiries, primarily from developers considering them as options in gated communities, none has sold as of this week, officials said.

Orvis was founded in 1856 as a mail-order firm for fly-fishing rods and touts itself as the nation's oldest, continuously operated catalogue company. In 2004, it reported revenues of $250 million. Over the years it has expanded its offerings to include men's and women's clothing, home furnishings and dog accessories through catalogue and Internet sales and in 29 free-standing retail outlets.

Asked if he might buy one of the log homes, Shadrin laughed. "We get a neat little discount, but it's still not enough for me."

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